The Australian Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology released its interim report in September where it recommended that the Australian Government maintain existing regulatory arrangements in relation to digital data capture (screen scraping).1
In its conclusions and recommendations relating to the treatment of screen scraping practices, the committee noted that in its view, it is pertinent that ASIC has found no evidence of consumer harm as a result of these practices. Further, they note that it is also clear that it will take some time for the Open Banking regime to provide a level of data quality and ubiquity that is currently available using digital data capture services.2
The regulator’s perspective
Among the 123 submissions and evidence from public hearings received by the committee was advice from ASIC and the ACCC, both of which agreed screen scraping doesn’t harm consumers.
In particular, the committee’s report noted that when asked about screen scraping at a public committee hearing, ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes told the committee that ASIC is not aware of any evidence of consumer loss occurring as a result of screen scraping.3
Screen scraping is valuable
As the way people share data evolves, consumers have more opportunity than ever to leverage their data to create value. Consumers should have agency over their data and be able to share it safely and easily to negotiate better deals, connect with services faster and achieve their personal goals.
Screen scraping is mature technology that enables consumers and businesses to share their data safely and securely, powering global services and helping people use their data in ways that benefit them. Whether it’s personal finance management solutions, supporting equitable access to credit, reducing compliance costs for businesses or just making access to products and services more convenient. Screen scraping is valuable, and right now, there is no substitute.
The committee’s conclusion
I recommend you read Committee Chair Senator Andrew Bragg’s foreword to the interim report to understand what the inquiry is about and its goals. In it (amongst other quote-worthy commentary) he says:
“Put simply, the inquiry is about ensuring the settings are optimal to encourage and support Australian FinTech and RegTech businesses, the purpose of which is to increase competition and productivity, offer technology solutions to assist customers, create jobs and also engage in export opportunities. More jobs and more choice will be the dividend.” 4
The Senate Select Committee’s conclusion on screen scraping is an important lesson in fundamentals, and shouldn’t come as a surprise. Screen scraping doesn’t harm consumers and is a valuable enabler of innovation and competition in the financial services sector – virtues that align with Australia’s FinTech and RegTech goals.
1 Interim report of the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Recommendation 22.
2 Interim report of the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Treatment of digital data capture practices, p220, para 8.93.
3 Interim report of the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Arguments in favour of the continued allowance of screen scraping practices, p146, para 5.62.
4 Interim report of the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Chairs Foreword.