Importing data from your bank
For Money IO I am always thinking of ways of how to streamline the experience of getting your finances into the website. The ideal situation would be to contact your bank, prove that we have a trusted relationship with you and then obtain your data (balances and transactions) through an API. As it stands, not many banks will offer a mechanism to do this and will actively discourage you from attempting to do so, which is upsetting to say the least.
Here is a recent conversation I had with one bank (Santander) that affirms this lack of openness and warns against attempting to act on behalf of the user (automating the online banking login flow, pretending to be you).
Me to Santander:
Hi Santander, please can you let me know what API’s I could use in order to obtain a client’s financial details with their consent?
Santander to me:
Thank you for your email.
Unfortunately there is no Application Programming Interface that we can recommend or provide for our site. Please be aware that we make modifications and changes to the site on a regularly basis and as such we do not support any third party applications.
I am making you aware of this due to any application you develop may be rendered incompatible with the site following one of these updates.
I apologise I am unable to help further.
The problem with this recurring story among the banks is that they stifle innovation in the personal finance world as no one else can get access to your data.
Imagine the potential if third party services could automatically to do useful things such as:
- Provide understandable graphs of your data
- Surface spending trends
- Warn you if you exceed your budget
- Offer cheaper alternative to your utility providers.
We thought we would write about this to let you know why we haven’t added the functionality to automatically pull details of your purchases or salary information.
We are hopeful however, that there will be enough demand on the banks from consumers, developers and the tinkering community to open up in the near future.