Johannesburg - First National Bank has enabled online personal
finance management startup 22seven to have limited access to its customers’ accounts,
breaking ranks with other big banks that rejected the idea because it was risky.
22seven, led by Christo Davel, the founder of failed
online bank 20twenty, wants bank customers to provide their internet banking
login details so it can provide them with a detailed summary of their income
and expenditure. This is aimed at helping customers prioritise their personal
SA's big banks rejected the idea when 22seven was launched,
saying it would risk customers’ personal information and weaken security at
these financial institutions.
Absa Group [JSE:ASA] and Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK] were
still to respond to FNB’s announcement on Tuesday. But Capitec Bank Holdings
[JSE:CPI] rejected 22seven’s idea again, with Nedbank asking its customers to
Capitec CEO Riaan Stassen said: “We make a living
out of protecting customers’ money. Now with this new idea we will have no
control over customers’security and money.”
He said the whole thing was not only about access to
information, but about the fact that it would now be hard to know what the
company would be tempted to do with this information.
“We have warned our customers that we do not want to
facilitate this. We were approached by 22seven a few years ago and we rejected
the idea from the get-go,” Stassen said.
Anton de Wet, management executive of client engagement at
Nedbank, admitted that the use of personal financial management tools was a
rising trend globally.
“People, however, making use of these offerings need to be
aware of the risks associated with disclosing their personal credentials to
others and use service providers they trusted,” De Wet said.
Earlier this month, 22seven accused Absa of blocking its US
technology partner Yodlee from accessing users’ internet bank accounts.
Absa confirmed it had blocked the service and defended its
decision to do so.
Sarah Rice, spokesperson at 22seven, admitted that Absa,
Standard Bank, Nedbank and Capitec were still hostile to her plans.
“In the US, a similar company like ours… initially got a
serious backlash but this changed with time,” Rice said.
“We hope to have a good working relationship with the local
financial institutions. We hope this will be sooner rather than later.”
Change of mind
FNB’s announcement came as a surprise because the bank was
among those that the rejected 22seven’s idea initially.
This prompted observers to ask what made them change their
Lee-Ann van Zyl, the CEO of Online Banking at FNB, told Fin24 FNB’s move came after a thorough investigation and careful consideration of
the option offered by 22seven.
“We then decided that setting up a secondary user profile is
the most appropriate option,” Van Zyl said.
“We do not believe that a secondary user profile poses
additional risk to the client as it has a more limited functionality and a
different user name and password to the primary user profile.”
She said if correctly set up to allow “view access” only,
this will limit the exposure of client information to transaction history,
balances and account numbers.
FNB’s online banking customers can set up a secondary user
on their online banking profile, an option already available on FNB Online
The secondary user profile has a more limited functionality
and a different user name and password to the primary user.
“However, we continue to urge our customers to never
disclose their personal details such as their personal identification number
(PIN), username, password and one time pin (OTP)," Van Zyl said.
She urged customers to never access FNB's Online Banking via
a link. They should also never respond to requests to "update" or "reconfirm" their
banking details, as this exposes clients to phishing.