22seven is no longer in beta. It will offer users a 30-day free trial, after which the service will cost R70/month. There is no contractual commitment and users can opt out at any time.
CEO Christo Davel says mobile applications are inevitable, but won’t commit to a timeline for their launch.
The personal financial management service was launched in January, causing consternation in the process. Absa decried the service and suggested that customers using it could find themselves unable to claim compensation in instances of fraud, even if the fraud was unrelated to 22seven. It pointed to its terms of service that preclude customers from giving their online banking information to any third party.
First National Bank, on the other hand, offered a solution whereby its customers could create a secondary, “read-only” profile for use with the service. “A large number of Absa customers moved to FNB because of Absa’s response,” Davel claims. “This shows just how much people want services like this.”
Now that it’s out of beta, a subscription fee of R70/month is applied and Davel says this was “as low as we could possibly keep it” due to the licence fees it has to pay third-party technology provider Yodlee, which handles the secure login process to extract data from users’ Internet banking profiles.
Davel won’t disclose how many users have signed up so far and says it’s difficult to predict how many of these will leave the service in a month’s time when they are required to pay their first monthly subscription fee.
At present, there are no mobile applications available for the service but Davel says these are “inevitable” and that it may be on mobile platforms where the service proves most useful for customers.
“We really believe the service is going to have to go mobile,” Davel says, but adds that he is disinclined to speculate about a timeline because the most important thing is ensuring users have the best possible experience of the service.
In the interim, the online portal and its user interface have been overhauled. Users can view their disposable income, debt and the amount they can borrow on a single screen, and can categorise all income and expenditure. The system recognises recurring expenses so that users should find themselves doing less manual categorisation over time.
Head of product strategy and design, Simon Dingle, says 22seven is also looking at options that allow households to view combined accounts, but that it’s unclear what this will look like. There is also no indication when the service will move from being Flash-based to using HTML5. While most browsers can view Flash, mobile devices, particularly Apple’s iPad, don’t support it.
“We wanted to use HTML5 only, but sanity prevailed and we had to realise that if you look at the browsers that get used mostly in SA and the way people access their digital information, and if we wanted to supply a slick experience that isn’t clunky, we had to use Flash,” says Davel. “But it’s an old technology and we want to migrate away from it in time.” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media