New row brewing over PFM sites? - TechCentral

New row brewing over PFM sites?

Ingrid Johnson, Nedbank’s managing executive for retail and business banking, launching the bank’s PFM product in Sandton on Thursday

A fresh row may be brewing over banking clients sharing their Internet banking details with online personal financial management (PFM) sites after Nedbank, one of SA’s big four retail banks, on Thursday announced it was launching its own PFM product in which it will encourage its clients to do exactly that.

Earlier this year, Nedbank rival Absa said it would block Yodlee, the US technology partner of independent PFM provider 22seven, from accessing the bank’s online banking service. Yodlee uses the credentials to “screen-scrape” customers’ financial data.

Nedbank’s launch of its own PFM tool, which also uses Yodlee as its technology service provider, could increase the pressure on other banks to allow access by third parties to their clients’ financial information.

PFM sites provide a comprehensive, often graphical overview of people’s financial state and budgets.

Absa warned soon after 22seven’s launch that its clients should under no circumstances share their private Internet banking credentials with any third party. It also said it might not reimburse its customers for fraudulent transactions on their accounts if they had shared their details with any third party.

Absa on Thursday again warned that its clients should not disclose their confidential information. The bank’s managing executive for digital channels, Christo Vrey, tells TechCentral that despite Nedbank’s plans, Absa’s position “remains the same” as it was when 22seven was launched.

Though Absa continues to try to block Yodlee from accessing its online banking website, Vrey says it is possible that the service could still read Absa clients’ data in some instances because the US company changes the Internet protocol addresses it uses.

Nedbank’s PFM product, called MyFinancialLife, will be launched by the end of August. It will be available to everyone, not only Nedbank customers. It gives its clients the option of providing their login details so it can access other bank accounts and accounts at non-bank financial services providers. The bank’s chief information officer, Fred Swanepoel, says it has carefully inspected Yodlee’s systems and is certain that they are secure.

The Nedbank product provides a consolidated view of users’ entire financial position online and will be available to consumers by the end of August. Its core features, available at launch, will be free of charge. It comes just months after the arrival of 22seven, launched by a team led by Christo Davel, the man who was behind online bank 20twenty.

Absa has also launched a basic PFM service as part of the overhaul of its digital channels and has promised more features will follow in coming months.

Nedbank says MyFinancialLife allows its clients to link accounts from various banks and non-banking financial service providers using its digital security mechanism, called Approve-it. The service is available from within Nedbank’s Internet banking website.

At launch, MyFinancialLife provides six core functions. These are:

  • Net worth calculation: A consolidated view of people’s financial position, based on financial accounts linked or non-financial assets added manually; Nedbank clients will have some accounts  pre-populated.
  • Spend analysis: Shows clients their spend graphically based on the categorised card and electronic transactions. Initially a manual intervention, the system will then automatically recognise all repeated transactions with the same supplier.
  • Budgeting: Allows clients to track their spend against their planned spend.
  • Saving for a goal: A “goal-save” tool that allows people to set goals, categorise them, choose an amount they would like to save during a specific timeframe. This tool then calculates how much should be put aside for people to meet their goals.
  • Alerts: These can be set on budgeting or “goal-save” functions and can be sent via e-mail or SMS. For example, a client could request an alert if 50% of their allowed credit card limit has been reached or when they have exceeded a budgeted amount.
  • Calendar view: Allows clients to track debit orders against payments that need to be made, making it possible to view weekly, monthly or yearly transactions.

The core functionality will be available to new and existing clients free of charge, the bank says. Future functionality may be priced separately. Mobile versions are planned.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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