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I noticed that my banks (at least in France) start to offer the ability to consolidate accounts from other banks (in order to have a unified view of all belongings).

This is not done though a public, generally available API, but via a backend mechanism. This means that, as opposed to scrapping, they actually offer (or cross-offer) this functionality between them.

Why do they do that?

Looking at the fierce competition in that area, I would have expected that they would not be willing to share their data with other banks, to force customers to connect to their portal and, possibly, buy some extra services. If I can view another account (possibly less important, or with a worse interface) though a consolidated dashboard, I have no incentive to connect there.

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They are doing that because they have been told to under new EU rules - Payment Services Directive PSD2. See BBC or CNBC.

This requires banks to make APIs available so that other financial companies can pull together data from multiple banks, for instance in mobile apps.

  • This is excellent information, thank you. BTW one of the articles you linked to (BBC) states that Crucially, these services will have access to the data, but will not have the login and password details to your account.. This is false as one is required to give their login and password to aggregate accounts. – WoJ Dec 3 '18 at 9:02
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They don't make money off of you connecting to their website, they make money off of you keeping your loans with them (or your deposits, such that they can fund other loans).

If they don't provide an ability for you to view your balances through a (secure) consolidated third-party interface, and another bank does, some customers may be incentivized to use the other bank instead, giving their competitors an advantage.

If you're shopping around for services (perhaps a new loan for a car, home, or purchase), and two banks offer you the same terms, but only one allows this kind of unified view, you have an incentive to take the loan from them. You might never connect to their website directly, but you will give them your money, which is what they're actually after.

  • I agree with you that offering such a view is an advantage. My question is why the other bank (whose data is viewed though that aggregated dashboard) allows its data to be seen. – WoJ Nov 30 '18 at 21:29
  • For exactly the same reason. My answer was actually meant as that explanation; I realize now it could be interpreted to apply to the provider of the third-party consolidation interface. – yoozer8 Nov 30 '18 at 21:51
  • For example: assume my bank offers this convenient view, but does not offer competitive interest rates on loans. I determine that two other banks offer a much better rate for the car loan I want, and the rate the offer is the same. If one of them allows this kind of access to their data and the other doesn't, which one do you think gets my business? – yoozer8 Nov 30 '18 at 21:53

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