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In-house: Open banking group appoints first GC and picks Hogan Lovells as sole adviser

An open banking initiative funded by the UK’s nine biggest banks has appointed former Lloyds and Halifax lawyer Marcus Ezekiel as its first general counsel, Legal Business has learned.

The Open Banking Implementation Entity was founded in August last year as a result of a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) report into retail banking in 2016. The group is funded by the UK’s biggest banks, including Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, HSBC, Barclays, Nationwide and Santander. Hogan Lovells is acting as the group’s sole external legal adviser.

The group’s goal is to provide a secure way for customers to compare the deals they are getting from banks. The initiative aims to begin a roll out of sharing customer data by January 2018, increasing competition between major banks, fintechs and challenge banks.

Ezekiel joins the body after working as a legal consultant in Europe for Dutch telecoms giant VimpelCom. He has spent time at a number of companies as an interim general counsel, including the World Gold Counsel and G4S.

Prior to this, he spent a year as Lloyds GC for government asset protection, joining in 2009. He also served as head of legal for Halifax Bank and was chief legal officer of internet bank Egg.

Ezekiel  told Legal Business: ‘We are dealing with a very dynamic legal, commercial and regulatory landscape . In banking this is a game changing intervention and one of the first of its kind in the world. Stakeholders are not just the banks, but fintechs, challenger banks, aggregators and intermediaries as well as regulators and the government.’

The CMA’s report called on the UK and Northern Ireland’s biggest retail banks to use more open systems for payments to make it easier to switch and compare banks.

The report said: ‘Implementation of an Open API banking standard has the greatest potential to transform competition in retail banking markets. We believe that it would significantly increase competition between banks, by making it much easier for both personal and business customers to compare what is offered by different banks and by paving the way to the development of new business models offering innovative services to customers.’