Financial aggregation services that consolidate your financial data from multiple banks and brokers in one place e.g. First Direct in the UK, have been around for sometime.
For such services to operate, you have to provide them with your log-in details to those other institutions and rely on them using them appropriately, not to mention holding them securely. Typically, institutions offering this facility provide “indemnities” against misuse to re-assure you, since in most instances you’ve almost certainly invalidated any security warranties offered by the banks they are accessing (“Have you shared your details with anyone else?”).
But in most cases, people are happy to trust bank with their details. Ok, so how about a new web start-up that wants all the same details? Are you crazy, who’d be that gullible? Surely to provide such info to an “unknown” website would outdo the stupidity of people that send money to email scams. Well, according to Techcrunch,
“…in just the past three weeks, Mint has already helped “organise” more than $2 billion worth of people’s personal financial accounts, and identified more than $40 million in potential savings for those members. (Mint helps you find better interest rates on bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial products). At one point, Mint was signing up a new member every five seconds. Not bad for a service from a previously-unknown startup that asks for access to all of your private financial data, including your bank and credit-card accounts.
—That $2 billion is spread across 50,000 registered users.
—About 70 percent (or 35,000) have come back more than once.
—Those who have been in the system at least a week (including beta testers), visit Mint.com 2-3 times a week.
—About 10 percent (or 5,000) come to the site every day.
—And 10 percent have signed up for mobile alerts.“
Perhaps I shouldn’t be astonished. People can be very trusting and I’ve no grounds to question the honesty of Mint etc, nor am I doing so. Moreover, perhaps some of the data supplied by users is possibly fictitious, but any information that has been sourced (“scrapped”) from bank accounts can’t be.
Consequently, realising my error of judgement, I am pleased to announce that if anyone would like to share their bank details and related security info with me, I shall be pleased to review your accounts etc. Of course, there will be a nominal fee for such a service but that will be automatically collected from your account and you need not worry your pretty little head with such details, because I shall probably save you lots of cash, with which you can get even more counselling.
Joking aside, the underlying value from gathering such info is immense, since the aggregator can begin to build “buying groups” for financial products e.g. bulk buy financial products on behalf of users. This should generate cheaper prices for users, whilst still allowing the aggregator to take a fee in the middle.
Unrelated point, Mint is a clever name – easy to remember; sounds financial (royal mint); clean and fresh.