Earlier this month, the UK government launched its Smart Data Consultation (Consultation). The Consultation follows the publication of the terms of reference which launched the smart data review late last year, and seeks input on proposals to:

  • enable data-driven innovation in consumer markets;
  • use data and technology to help vulnerable consumers; and
  • ensure consumers and

The UK government launched its Smart Data Review on 28 September 2018 (Review). The Review will look at how technology, such as online comparison tools and open banking, can be used to make it easier for consumers to get good deals on essential services and put an end to consumers paying unjustifiable ‘loyalty penalties’ for staying with their service providers rather than switching.

Background to the Review

The government’s Modernising Consumer Markets green paper highlighted the challenges that consumers face in regulated markets, such as financial services, energy and telecoms. It recognised that consumers often struggle to stay on top of their contracts for essential services, find it difficult to identify the best deal and end up paying considerably more by not switching.

These challenges have been further highlighted by a ‘super-complaint’ submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by Citizens Advice, the UK consumer watchdog, on the same day that the Review was launched. This complaint estimates a cost of £4.1 billion per year to consumers who remain loyal to their service providers in these markets. This penalty is disproportionately paid by vulnerable, lower income and less educated consumers who do not realise they are being penalised for their loyalty and face obstacles when trying to shop around. The CMA will now investigate the complaint and engage with relevant regulators, such as the FCA and Ofcom, before publishing its response.

In relation to the Review, the government recognises that new technologies, such as automatic switching services and utility management services, have the potential to address many of the problems faced by consumers in regulated markets. However, these innovative intermediary services require access to customer data, which is often locked away in a way that works against consumers and innovators. For example, development of these services can be constrained by difficulties in accessing data on consumers’ current tariffs, their usage and the other available deals in standard formats.Continue Reading UK government launches Smart Data Review