NAB data chief outlines concerns over data breaches in open banking

  • By Christine St Anne

Hit by previous data breaches, National Australia Bank chief data officer Glenda Crisp has highlighted concerns around the way data will be used as the open banking regime draws closer. 

Crisp was speaking at a webinar with the University of Melbourne and spoke on other issues such as the bank’s approach to using data in helping its customers manage the challenge under COVID-19

While a supporter of the consumer data right, Crisp emphasized that data sharing should be done in a safe and secure way.

“I do worry about it and I am sure the government agencies are focused on these issues. 

“I worry about the third parties and how are they going to be using the data and I am particularly concerned about vulnerable customers,” Crisp said. 

She highlighted identity theft as one key risk that could emerge “as a result of this data kind of moving more freely”.

The bank has experienced a number of data breaches in the past. 

In July 2019, the bank engaged with about 13,000 customers to advise that some personal information provided when their account was set up was uploaded, without authorisation, to the servers of two data service companies.

Crisp also acknowledged that the bank had “seen some issues with the New Payments Platform that we had to deal with.”

“My concern is how do we enable our customers to both understand and manage their data but do it in a safe and secure way,” she added. 

However, she acknowledges that open banking will offer opportunities for banks while also creating a “very interesting business environment for startups”. 


Crisp also highlighted a number of services and products the bank has rolled out following collaboration with the data and analytics teams.

Most notably is the bank’s QuickBiz offering that provides small businesses with access to fast unsecured lending based on machine learning. 

The product went live in 2018 and since then the bank has “revamped the offering and will continue to evolve the product”

Another product is its NAB Assist which helps the bank to engage with its customers who are about to get into or are experiencing financial difficulty. 

“It was a model that was built pre-COVID, and now we are looking at how to retrain it given the COVID situation  has put a lot of pressure on our customers. We were trying to find ways to get out in front and be helpful.” 

Another innovation is payslip fraud which uses a machine learning model to help identify fraudulent payslips in income verification processes. 

“It’s really trying to find those opportunities where we can actually really ramp up the percentage of accuracy in any one of those areas.” 

Crips said the bank’s data labs act as “matchmaker role” with other businesses in the bank as her team has an in-depth understanding of where all the data sits within the bank. 

A committee that meets every Thursday about how the bank can access “COVID-analytics” quickly that enables the teams to adopt a more coordinated approach to accessing data. 

Crisp also recognizes that the bank needs to “walk the line between adding value and doing what is right for the customer with running essentially what is a profitable business”. 

“Financial institutions have a higher bar to meet. We have a fiduciary responsibility that I take quite seriously and so it is finding that right balance.’