Transforming Data

Join us in making the data revolution in finance work for people and planet.

Finance is changing – fast. A data revolution is underway. Most payments are now made digitally, as people increasingly use contactless and bank and buy online. Cash itself could become digital, through a new ‘Central Bank Digital Currency’, and the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Facebook’s Libracoin. As data about our finances proliferate, new ways to access and make sense of it are being devised. In 2018, the biggest banks and building societies were forced to enable customers to access and share information about their money and spending habits for the first time via ‘open banking’, and more personal financial data could be opened up soon with the advent of ‘open finance’. Two thirds of financial firms are using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence (AI).

Transforming finance by advocating for a democratic, sustainable, just and resilient data-driven system

The seismic change creates new possibilities to shift the values underpinning the financial system, and the power that people and society have over it. At the same time, the data revolution has the potential to exacerbate all that is wrong with finance today and create new risks.  A huge amount is at stake – including our privacy, the life opportunities available to us, and the stability of the whole financial system.

The financial system will only be rewired for the better if consumer groups, civil society organisations and responsible finance providers are meaningfully included in the creation and oversight of the new policies, regulations and infrastructure that are shaping our data-driven future today.

Our new programme, Transforming Data, will harness the third sector’s unique expertise about the social and environmental opportunities and risks of the data revolution. We will work with a range of organisations representing diverse interests to understand, advocate for and build the new, digital foundations of a better financial system.

Join us

Do you work for a consumer or civil society organisation, or a responsible finance provider? Are you interested to learn more about the data revolution underway in finance? Do you have ideas about how data-driven finance could work for you and the communities you work with? We can help you discover useful resources and events, share your expertise to develop new knowledge and arguments about the transition, network with peers, and collaborate to advocate for positive change. Get in touch to find out more and join a growing coalition of organisations building a better future for data-driven finance.

We are grateful for the support we have received from the Barrow Cadbury Trust and Paul Hamlyn Foundation to do this work.

Current projects

Open Finance: In 2020, the Lab and StepChange partnered to start a new conversation about open finance – a major new programme of the data revolution. Our first event Open finance, ‘open x’: What’s the use? took place online on 24 June 2020, and was attended by over 60 representatives from the third sector. Read about it and watch the recording here.

As a result, we identified a need and opportunity to develop a third sector-led vision for how open finance could serve the needs of individuals, communities and wider society. In September, we formed the Open Finance Working Group to help draft this. Alongside the Lab and StepChange, the group includes: ABCUL, Fair by Design, Fair4All Finance, Faith Reynolds (Senior Fellow), MacMillan, Professor Sharon Collard and The Open Data Institute. For more information about this work, contact the Lab’s Head of Programmes, Marloes Nicholls.

Find out more:

Mapping the context: We have an ongoing project, working with members of the Lab community, to gather intelligence about the policy initiatives shaping the digital transition. This mapping enables us to identify the most promising opportunities for influence.

Past projects

Alongside our incubation programmes, which have developed our data-driven innovation expertise, we have undertaken collaborative research with a wide range of stakeholders to build knowledge and understanding of the ways in which finance is rapidly changing and what the impacts of that will be on society and the environment.

We have advised parliamentarians and civil servants, spoken at high-profile events (such as The Alan Turing Institute’s conference on AI ethics in finance and The ODI Summit), and taught the data ethics module of Cranfield University’s MSc in Retail and Digital Banking.

“There’s a huge and urgent challenge to ensure that data and AI work for people and society. The Lab has been leading efforts to understand the opportunities and risks new technologies pose for financial health, and has been uniquely effective at bringing together diverse stakeholders in finance to learn from one another and collaborate to use tech responsibly. ”
- Reema Patel, Ada Lovelace Institute

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