Over the past twelve months there have been significant developments and enhancements of the customer experience as it relates to the aggregation of financial information, and what are commonly referred to as Personal Financial Management tools or PFM.
Yet without aggregation or the coming together of a customer's otherwise separate financial products and accounts personal financial management tools will never meet the true customer need of having an overview of their total (or near-to-total) financial picture.
If, for example, my credit card is with Lloyds, my savings account with HSBC, and my lending is with Barclays how can I quickly, accurately and insightfully gather together the threads of my financial services providers and products?
Into the void have stepped an increasing number of solutions and services, offered by challenger and traditional providers alike. Consequently, older stand-alone offerings from companies such as Mint (Intuit) are facing increased competition from challenger providers such as Cleo and Emma, and the new market entrants from traditional providers such as Yolt (ING) and Connected Money (HSBC).
With the exception of Mint, which has traditionally focused on the North American markets, all of the aforementioned traditional and challenger providers launched their offerings in the United Kingdom, which has been a hotbed of open banking activity driven in part by the regulator.
Open Banking, or more simply the sharing of data through APIs (Application Programming Interface), allows customers to securely and often selectively share their personal or financial data with a third-party provider. In other words, open banking allows customers to separate the digital financial service from the financial product, and opt for alternate service providers that might better suit their digital needs.
What follows is an analysis and demonstration of the customer experience in relation to aggregators from HSBC (UK), Yolt (UK), Emma (UK), Curve (UK) and Mint (US), selectively in tandem with account providers Monzo (UK), Starling (UK), Lloyds (UK), HSBC (UK) and Chase for Business (US).
Yolt began in 2016 as a Fintech operating out of Amsterdam, and having later been acquired by ING expanded its operation to the UK. It's service, interface and model are all comparatively simple, and in that way the app proves to be a compelling counterpoint offered by a traditional provider in a market increasingly crowded by challengers.
Amongst the providers analysed herein, Yolt proved the most successful at leveraging the open banking systems currently accessible in the UK, allowing customers to connect three of the four accounts we analysed via open banking. HSBC was the exception, wherein the link was only able to be created via a manual login (which is presumably relying upon what is typically known as 'scraping').
Lloyds was mixed modal, with current accounts able to be setup via an API, though savings and other account types - like HSBC - relied upon a manual login or what is assumed to be scraping.
The videos below demonstrate the setup of each of the four product providers in the Yolt app.
Adding Monzo to Yolt
Adding Starling to Yolt
Adding Lloyds to Yolt
Adding HSBC to Yolt
Disconnecting accounts from Yolt was also a mixed affair. Starling and Lloyds customers were able to disconnect from Yolt via their respective banking channels, which in the case of Starling is exclusively mobile and in the case of Lloyds was limited to the desktop web channel.
HSBC and Monzo customers however were only able to disconnect from within the Yolt app, an option that was also available to Starling and Lloyds customers if preferred. Each of these experiences is demonstrated below.
Remove all from Yolt
Remove Yolt Access from Starling
Remove Yolt Access from Lloyds
Like Yolt, Emma is a relatively new offiering having launched in 2017 with a mission statement that reads "We believe money management should be easy and straightforward. You should be able to access all the information regarding your personal finance from the push of a button".
The company is headquartered in London and embraces emojis, simple language and a colourful design to deliver a service that is engaging and relatively easy to setup and use. However, unlike Yolt, at the time of writing Emma was only leveraging access to the Monzo and Starling APIs, whilst relying on a manual login for the larger providers in Lloyds and HSBC.
The videos below demonstrate the setup of each product provider in the Emma app.
Adding Starling to Emma
Adding Monzo to Emma
Adding Lloyds to Emma
Adding HSBC to Emma
Removing access to Emma from the respective account providers was equally limited in terms of customer options, with Starling the only provider that offered customers the ability to delete such access from within its own app. Each of Lloyds, HSBC and Monzo required the customer to remove access from Emma, or change their login credentials (for the former two).
The videos demonstrate both the Starling in-app removal, and the Emma removal of all access.
Remove all Emma access
Remove Emma from Starling
The third of our UK based, standalone aggregator apps was the recently launched Connecte Money from HSBC.
Seemingly a deliberate attempt to head of the aggregator threat seen in the likes of Emma, and Facebook Messenger based Cleo, HSBC Connected Money is likewise billed as a one stop shop for financial aggregation and management.
However, in our experience we found an app that had some inexplicable flaws, and will need to make some much needed additions if it is to succeed as a genuine alternative to the likes of the providers mentioned above.
Most frustrating was, as a HSBC customer, the need to log into the app - in effect - twice. First to setup a profile, and second to incorporate the customer's own HSBC accounts into the app. Even more odd was that this setup was not instantaneoues, rather customers are told it will take around five minutes, and the setup itself suggests that the data is being manually extracted or scraped from the customer's banking profile.
Secondly, there was a clear of absence of challenger providers amongst the options available to customers in terms of aggregation. For example, we were not at all able to incorporate the Monzo or Starling accounts we hold into the app.
Finally, there was no way to delete an account - be it HSBC or otherwise - from the app once it had been incorporated (from within the app, and in our expereince in the product provider's own digital banking channels).
The videos below demonstrate, breifly, the setup of HSBC and Lloyds account access in the app.
Adding Lloyds to Connected Money
Adding HSBC to Connected Money
We had set out with the intention of contrasting four aggregation apps, with Curve added into the mix, though as we soon discovered the process involved in adding an account (or more specifically a card) to the Curve app made this a challenging undertaking.
Curve is a card aggregator, that allows customers tyo combine cards from multiple providers into one - one card to rule them all so to speak!
It also incorporates a pretty funky time machine funciton, that allows customers to reassign a transaction up to two weeks after the spend - and for those, like the author that were children of the 80s, it even includes a flux capacitor!
The videos below demonstrate our attempt to incorporate Lloyds and HSBC into the app, though unfortunately the app did not allow us to incorporate our Monzo card nor did we have the Starling card in our posession at the time.
That said, we still very much like what Curve is seeking to achieve, and think that the design seen in the app stands up well under scrutiny.
Adding Cards to Curve
Mint and Chase
We made Mint something of a special case, as we incorproated it specifically to be able to demonstrate open abanking from a business customer perspective - and in particular in relation to the Chase experience.
Chase was one of the first in the market to provide customers with management functionality in the bank's web channel, allowing customers - both personal and business - to control and determine the access of third parties to their financial information.
As the video below demonstrates, the setup from within Mint is a smooth one (which is not a surprise given the years of experience it has), whilst management of the open banking access in the Chase web channel is comparatively comprehensive and simple to use.
The bank also advises customers of a succesful setup via email, a copy of which can be seen opposite.