Data Protection: Open Banking, GDPR & What It All Means

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If you aren’t in the tech world, it is likely that you’ve never heard of Cloud Expo, but for our tech team it’s a bit like the Ideal Home Show. There are some really cool products and services on display and it’s a great opportunity to meet new companies and exchange knowledge. I spent last Wednesday at the expo – specifically the Fintech, Finance & Banking Technology area, presented by FINTECH Circle – and I wanted to take this chance to share some of what I learned there.

In addition to checking out some great exhibitors (and their expo stand baristas!), I also had the opportunity to be part of a really interesting FINTECH Circle panel along with Peter Lancos and Sonal Rattan (CEO & CTO of Exate Technologies), discussing open banking and data protection. Led by moderator Nicolas Steiner (Digital Ecosystem Director, FINTECH Circle Innovate), we were able to touch on and debate several interesting topics at the heart of financial technology. One major point concerned how incoming initiatives, such as open banking, create both obstacles and opportunities for businesses such as Bean.

As a company at the centre of this world, we are really excited about these advancements, not only because they open new frontiers for us to create amazing products, but because they ensure everyone acts responsibly towards information, such as customer data. However, as with any step forward, there will be considerations that need to be addressed. In particular, open banking creates significant questions around data security and ownership, a highly debated topic within the industry That being said, there are already steps being taken to regulate how companies use data, such as the upcoming GDPR legislation.

What is GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation is basically an add-on to the Data Protection Act. It would bring accountability and governance to the use of personal data by corporations. If you would like to see the full list of requirements and proposed principles, check out the overview, here, but, in short, the GDPR aims to put the consumer back in control of their own personal data and who has access to it. The stringent new guidelines would see corporations fined up to 4% of global revenue for any data mistreatment and/or failing to show their active steps taken to protect their users’ information.

That focus is exactly why we at Bean support it; we agree that you should have complete confidence in how your information is being used. GDPR, along with the regulatory oversight created by Open Banking, will help ensure security will be uniformly enforced across businesses dealing with your financial data.

That being said, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch and we’ve got a way to go before we can all agree on what needs to be implemented. These initiatives are highly complex and, unfortunately, vulnerable to manipulation by large corporations (with even larger budgets) who lobby to protect their interests, rather than consumers. It may be a long road but we here at Bean will continue to put the user first and keep you in the loop regarding any developments we think will help you make informed financial decisions.

If you have a question about GDPR, data protection or anything else, get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @usebean. For more helpful information make sure to check out the rest of our blog and sign up to the waitlist at usebean.com today.

Are subscriptions turning your bank account into a leaky bucket?

A recent Citizens Advice online survey found that 84% of people did not realise they had agreed to a subscription.

These “subscription traps” can turn a spur of the moment free trial sign up into an annual liability costing consumers hundreds of pounds per year.

In the same survey, it was found that more than 16 million people had signed up to Continuous Payment Authorities (CPAs) over a 12-month period. Most of these were set up online.

CPAs differ from the more widely recognised Direct Debits in a number of ways, however, the most contentious issue for customers is that CPAs allow companies to take payments from their accounts without them being notified and giving explicit authorisation before each payment. Companies are, therefore, able to lure consumers into signing up for monthly, quarterly or yearly contracts using long winded terms and conditions statements (we even know lawyers who don’t read these!) and take payment even if users do not use their service.

A new tactic increasingly used by companies is offering discounts for annual recurring plans. These lengthy plans mean that there is an increased likeliness that a service is forgotten about and not cancelled, before the payment is renewed and paid for in advance. Sneaky, hey?

At Bean, we believe that consumers should not be tricked into signing up for lengthy and costly contracts without realising, effectively creating leaks in their bank accounts. There are a number of initiatives which can be put in place to increase consumer protection from a legislative point of view. We are excited to see what Philip Hammond announces in the Budget later today. However, in the meantime we are busy working away to create the best technological solution to enable consumers to take control of their subscriptions and plug these leaks.

About us

Bean is the UK first consumer subscription management platform. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.

Why no one can afford a new house

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House prices are up again and now almost 8 in 10 families in England cannot afford a new house in the area they like to call home, according to Shelter.

To all but a few people who have been living in a hole for the past 20 years, the news that house prices are completely out of balance with what we can pay is not news.

With the UK Government planning on addressing the housing crisis by building one million new homes in the next four years. If no one can afford them, this strategy is pretty pointless.

Shelter’s research shows that this issue is no longer just confined to London and the south-east, affecting the whole of the UK, with the average price of a new home in the UK being £206,950.

We do not want to suggest that there are any simple fixes to the issues facing the housing market in the UK. However, Shelter points out in the report how badly the current system is rigged in favour of housing developers and land dealers. These companies have been put in a position where they can maximize their profits by distorting the market and maintaining the status quo.

In the same week that this report was published, other research outlined how consumers are wasting millions of pounds every year due to ineffective management of their personal finances. Only 7.7m households switched their energy contract in the past year, costing them well over £200 per year. In addition, nearly 42% of households have not switched their broadband supplier in the past five years, at a potential cost of £1,200 over the period.

About us

Bean is the first of a new breed of personal finance management tools. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.

4 in 10 people haven’t switched broadband in 5 years, why this is bad

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4 in 10 people haven't switched their broadband

Fresh off the heels of Monday’s announcement that only 7.7m households switched their energy supplier last year, ISPreview.co.uk has released a survey showing that an incredible 4 out of 10 households have not switched their broadband supplier in the past FIVE years. Furthermore, only 29.8% of people have switched once and a further 15.2% have switched twice.

Without context these figures don’t mean much. However, when you consider that 29.6% of households with superfast broadband say that they are dissatisfied with their speeds, it seems that we consumers are not applying enough pressure to the broadband industry.

So, what about the money? Reviewing current broadband contracts, we can see that Origin Broadband is offering a simple broadband contract for £17.99, with no connection fee, vs Sky who will charge £36.99, plus a connection fee of £9.95, for a slower connection but free minutes from your landline. Assuming you don’t use your landline, you could save close to £240 per year if you switched. Therefore, it doesn’t take a maths whizz, thankfully, to work out that the 41.9% of households who have not switched in five years could have saved around £1,200 if they had done so.

To some (lucky!) people, £1,200 may not seem like a significant figure, but given that the news today states that nearly 8 in 10 people cannot afford to buy a new home in their local neighbourhood, there is a clear need for people to optimise their finances in this way.

About us

Bean is the first of a new breed of personal finance management tools. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.