In order to enhance consumer control over the data they share with financial applications (apps) and to provide for a safer and more secure method to facilitate such sharing, The Clearing House Payments Company‘s (TCH) Connected Banking Initiative is focused on accelerating the ability of data providers, (e.g. banks) and data receivers, (e.g. data aggregators or fintechs) to establish safe and secure direct connections through application programming interfaces (or APIs). Unfortunately, legal agreements between banks and fintechs have sometimes taken 12 months or more to be developed and finalized and have become a significant bottleneck to API adoption.
In collaboration with its member banks and in consultation with fintechs, TCH has developed a Model Agreement that banks and data aggregators/fintechs can use as a reference to facilitate the development of API-related data sharing agreements. Use of the Model Agreement is entirely voluntary and the agreement is intended to be modified as circumstances may warrant. Further, the Model Agreement avoids taking any positions on commercial terms, which will need to be negotiated strictly between the parties. The Model Agreement does, however, provide a potential foundation of common, generally accepted terms that both parties can reference; reducing, if they choose, the need to define and negotiate the same terms each time they enter into a bilateral data access agreement.
The Model Agreement has been specifically developed to be consistent with the CFPB’s Consumer Protection Principles: Consumer-Authorized Financial Data Sharing and Aggregation (Oct. 18, 2017). These principles focus on consumer control and transparency, safety and security of the data, and appropriate accountability for any risks introduced into the system. More information on how CFPB principles were incorporated into the Model Agreement is available here.
TCH has gone through significant effort to obtain feedback from multiple parties including banks, nonbank financial institutions, and fintechs. The Model Agreement, however, is intended to be a living document, subject to continued modifications and updates that may reflect evolutions in technology and other factors. We encourage feedback that may be useful to improve future versions.
Please send any feedback here.