ElectraLink reached an important milestone this month, as we launched our consultation for the Third-Party Intermediary Code of Practice (TPICoP) which is scheduled to close on Friday 23 November. The TPICoP is designed not only to create a robust central governance and assurance framework for intermediaries, but to also underpin the principles of transparency as well as fair and appropriate selling – all for the benefit of customers.
The consultation, which follows the implementation plan we shared in July 2018, seeks to obtain industry input into our drafted code, our governance and assurance framework and the standardised Letter of Authority (LoA) template.
The addition of a standardised electronic Letter of Authority (LoA) template will streamline the process between TPIs and suppliers for onboarding or renewing customer contracts.
ElectraLink has been engaging and collaborating with stakeholders throughout the process of developing the TPICoP and we are confident that it will be welcomed by the energy industry and beyond.
The ‘Open Energy’ report by the Federation of Small Business’ (FSB), published in September this year underlines this support. It includes the recommendation that it should be possible for the active work of searching and switching to be entrusted to a TPI, but only if customers can be confident that the TPI is acting in their best interest, and that this should be formalised. ElectraLink’s TPICoP provides a formalised approach which will enable trust in both TPIs and in the market.
The FSB report also sets out the case for the use of APIs as a means of making market data more accessible and enabling more informed and accurate switching. We strongly believe that accessible, intelligent data is central to the ongoing transformation of the energy market. ElectraLink has the capability to provide APIs that would allow the energy broker market to access industry data – processed, analysed and presented in such a way as to add real value.
We recently reported that we had designed an API for British Gas to be able to offer its customers a service which doesn’t require them to fill in a complex form with difficult to understand questions around consumption. Instead, customers simply provide some basic information about themselves and give permission for their data to be accessed.
In return, customers receive precise quotes, can set accurate direct debits and can have confidence in the accuracy of their switch. We are already in the process of developing similar APIs with some TPIs.
Once the Code is complete and published, a separate data schedule will be published, setting out the process by which TPIs can apply to obtain access to ElectraLink’s API services and the industry data that we are able to provide.
Applications and the granting of access to the API will be subject to a robust data access audit undertaken by our Governance Services team. Access to such APIs will ensure TPI’s will be able to more accurately validate customer information during the quotation process and will be able to improve the overall accuracy of the process. This will ensure a more transparent and fair process for customers, and is in line with the FSB’s views.
Over the coming weeks and months, ElectraLink’s TPICoP team will continue to deliver against the implementation timescales set out and to engage with industry to ensure that we deliver what the energy market needs at this time.
We really value your input so please take the time to review and respond to our consultation or get in touch via [email protected] and we will be happy to set up an appointment, to discuss specific points in more detail including becoming a Founder Member of the Code.
Mark Olliver: Senior Specialist Consultant and TPICoP Lead, Governance Services, ElectraLink