22seven gets FNB nod

2012-02-15 07:39

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 spending.

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 be cautious.

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 minds now.

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 Banking.

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.

  • leon.j.steyn - 2012-02-15 09:21

    As an FNB customer for a number of years I have been very happy with the online banking service. But THIS is something I am not comfortable with and would choose NOT to have it as part of my service.

  • Meyer - 2012-02-15 12:06

    I still prefer to use a mobile tool that is free and does not require any pin banking number - I use and log every rand I spend through my mobile phone - and also receive and able to view "stats" and "pie-charts" on my spending on the mobile2budget site.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-15 12:29

    This is fine as long as the only access granted is to clients of 22seven that have signed a specific waiver allowing them access, if I were to get a letter from 22seven to say they have reviewed my banking history and have a plan to help me I would most definitely sue them and FNB for breach of and invasion of privacy.

  • brian.heunis - 2012-02-15 14:47

    Indeed, provide this as an additional service to which you, as bank client, can subscribe to. It would be the banks responsibility to provide these subscribers with enough information with regard to risks surrounding security and privacy.

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