Many people hope that data interoperability can increase competition, by making it easier for customers to switch and multi-home across different products. The UK’s Open Banking is the most important example of such a remedy imposed by a competition authority, but the experience demonstrates that such remedies are unlikely to be straightforward. The experience of Open Banking suggests that such remedies should be applied with focus and patience, may require ongoing regulatory oversight to work, and may be best suited to particular kinds of market where, like retail banking, the products are relatively homogeneous. But even then, they may not deliver the outcomes that many hopes for.

By Sam Bowman1

 

Data portability and interoperability tools allow customers to easily move their data between competing services, either on a one-off or an ongoing basis. Some see these tools as offering the potential to strengthen competition in digital markets; customers who feel locked in to services that they have provided data to might be more likely to switch to competitors if they could move that data more easily.2 This would be particularly true, advocates hope, where network effects grant existing services value that new rivals cannot emulate or where one of the barriers to switching services is the cost of re-entering personal data.

The UK’s Open Banking system is one of the most mature and important examples of this kind of policy in practice. As such, the UK’s expe

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