Consumer data right moves forward for energy industry

The Federal Government will introduce new legislation to allow consumers to compare and switch between energy products and services with greater ease. 

The Consumer Data Right reforms will also encourage competition between service providers, leading not only to better prices for customers but also more innovative products and services. 

It will first apply to the banking sector, followed by the energy sector and with the telecommunications sector proposed to follow.

This initiative has already seen major improvements in the levels of transparency over the terms and conditions of a wide range of banking products, with three of the four major banks voluntarily launching the first stage of the Consumer Data Right on 1 July 2019.

The next stage – due in February 2020 – will give consumers greater access to information that banks (and later energy retailers) hold on them; and the power to require those banks to provide safe and secure access to that information to trusted third parties. Within the regime, consumers will have control over what data will be shared, with whom and for what purposes.

Improved consumer control over data will support better price comparison services, taking into account people’s actual circumstances, and promote more convenient switching between products and providers. Improved access to data will also enable the development of better and more convenient products and services, customised to individuals’ needs.

Progress to the February launch is well advanced. The ACCC will issue the ‘lock-down’ version of the Rules governing the system by the end of August; and the interim Data Standards Body has, in the last week, issued the implementation draft of the technical standards.

High levels of privacy protection and information security will be a core feature of the system. It is not a right for businesses to share consumer’s data without their consent.

Improved competition and data-driven innovation will support economic growth and create new high value jobs in Australia. Better access to data will also support more efficient processes for businesses, with savings flowing through to consumers.

The Right will be regulated by the ACCC and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, with a new Data Standards Body developing transfer and security standards.

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