I am bit fed up with my local banks that are click-click-click-...click type of banks, every time I use them I get a sense of absurdism. If I am doing anything a bit more specific like doing abroad money transfers or analysis, it requires a lot of time and a lot of wasted clicks. If I want clean exported data, the answer is no -- doing a parser for closed blob is not the funniest thing to do. And if you are saying that it is not so-so-closed-so-so-simple because it is about money, so what I want a bank with easy-to-use UI. So is there any bank that has nice Command line -style UI, perhaps a more user-friendly exporting facilities and perhaps a bit programmer-friendly environment (not having to explain why ISINs may be relevant etc)?

And this question is general, not targeted to any single country.

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    If you're going to make a big thing about the difference between a "command line interface" and a "command line style interface" maybe you should explain what you mean. – DJClayworth Apr 25 '11 at 20:16
  • @DJClayworth: sure "click-click...click" -thing stresses repetition which I don't prefer, it can be caused by many things such as poor structural design (you may need to repeat the cycle-click-10-times-to-get-the-CSV-do-it-again-100-times-and-next-year-do-the-cycle-again, frustrating and time-consuming) -- and suppose you wrote your nice tool to solve it, the party changes the layout (broken). Another thing: suppose I want shortcuts to my most used features such as "^a+s" "go to accounts, "^A+e" "create the efficient frontier", "^v+c" "visualize consumption", "^c+A" "create alert" -- many more – user1770 Apr 26 '11 at 20:46
  • ...and then suppose you want proper information such as data over the past XYZ years about your accounts, in certain format preferably, to verify and to trial. I cannot stress the importance of the last thing (once found a bank charging me systematically 0.3% too much, got into interesting discussions, not even now sure whether it was a programming mistake but crux thing was that I had the data which was too hard to get), currently it takes me about the speed of snail mail to achieve data/personal-info-related-things. – user1770 Apr 26 '11 at 20:58
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    You use gmail as a good example in another comment. Do you want keyboard shortcuts on a web page? Also, in response to the "why the down-votes" question: People are voting that "This question is unclear or not useful". Based on the comment feedback I would think that it is unclear what you are looking for. – Alex B Apr 29 '11 at 18:09
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    Further, I'd like to point out that the comments I've read are aimed at answering your question or getting clarity on what you are asking. Everyone seems to be helping. – Alex B Apr 29 '11 at 18:12

There are API libraries available to various banks in various programming languages. For example, in Perl there are many libraries in the Finance::Bank:: namespace. Some of these use screen-scraping libraries and talk to the GUI underneath, so they are vulnerable to any changes the bank makes to their interface, but some of the better banks do seem to provide back-end interfaces, which can then be used directly.

In either case, you should still be sure that the transactions are secure. Some bank sites have appallingly bad security. :(

A good place to start is to call your bank and ask if they offer any programming APIs for accessing their back end.

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  • +1 for breaking the scrapers out of the UI debate, great. Yes, the action is many times necessary to get the info in the first hand. Very good now what does the "scraping technology" really mean? Can it be a Expect/xdotool/etc -thing or does it entail something more like certain rules? Excellent answer! More like this. – user1770 May 4 '11 at 4:38

At one point you could log into your HSBC account from the command line, but gosh, I've never heard of a bank that has a command line interface!

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  • please read how phrased the question with "command-line style user interface?". I did not write "command-line interface" by purpose but "command-line style interface", they are two totally different things. I am looking for a bank that has adopted the best parts from powerful cli-interfaces. Good examples with "command-line style interface" is Gmail/other Google products where you have the shortcuts to navigate fast between your content. Look the war btw GUI-CLI is stupid, you can make much powerful UI applying both of them to some extent. I am not looking for an extreme solution. – user1770 Mar 30 '11 at 13:27
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    @hhh I'm not getting into the war. In fact, once in a while I scold myself for not having developed my CLI ninja tactics further. I completely see your point, and I did miss the subtlety of your question. If your favorite online bank doesn't have the interface you want, maybe let them know so that it's on their radar? – mbhunter Mar 30 '11 at 19:24

Some banks would allow you to export your transactions as CSV (they call it Excel export, but in many cases it's actually just CSV). However, I would not expect any bank to bother with creating anything like command-line access - return on such investment would be too low.

There are other ways to get information out of the banks, I'm sure - providers like Yodelee must be using something to fetch financial data - but those usually not for general public access.

Also, you can use something like mint.com to aggregate you banking data if you bank doesn't do good export and then export it from there. They have CSV export too.

If you need to do any actions though, I don't think there's anything like you are looking for.

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  • I am skeptical about ROE because many times simple things, such as cli -things (sorry fuzzy term but I mean here to customize the UI in the simplest fast usable way) are used to build more powerful functionalities, look Google is copycatting such features all over its products after Bram joined the team -- and I do love it, a man who knows what speed/power is. "Cli UI" does not need to be bad-looking, it could easily be integrated to the GUI design making repetitive commands less time-consuming. I thought that I would do a JavaScript hack but I feel it would waste time, instead a new bank. – user1770 Mar 30 '11 at 13:07

A bank is unlikely to provide a 'command line' interface because typical users consider a graphical interface easier to use than a command line interface. The extra effort in providing a command line interface for the remaining handful of people isn't worth it. It's the same reason that everything else in the world has a point and click interface.

Command line-like features, such as easy repetition and keystroke shortcuts are also unlikely to implemented for the same reasons. They are hard to implement in a web interface, and most people aren't interested in them. Most people have only a few accounts and don't need to download multiple files on a frequent basis. They do typically provide link shortcuts to commonly used features.

However all online banking works by implementing the HTTP protocol in some way. You should be able to deduce the HTTP transactions necessary to get the information you want, and implement your own 'command-line'style' interface, or any other interface you want. That won't be easy, especially since you will almost certainly have to implement the security protocols too, but it should be possible.

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  • -1 the answer exploits the stereotypical war btw GUI-CLI. Please, reread the sentence "So is there any bank that has nice Command line -style UI, perhaps a more user-friendly exporting facilities and perhaps a bit programmer-friendly environment--?" I haven't defined the CLI -style UI. It could be JavaScript hack, integrated to GUI a bit like in Gmail/Google Sites/etc -- I am fed up with losers that market themselves with merry pictures, sexual models, idealistic families, free credit cards -- I don't need the clutter. I am looking for bank that understands usability/power-users' needs. – user1770 Mar 30 '11 at 13:20
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    My point is that your viewpoint of preferring command line to GUI is very much a minority one. I'm not saying its not valid, just that most people disagree with you. Banks target their tools to reach as wide an audience as possible, and very few people indeed would be interested in your approach. Again, not that it's a bad viewpoint, just a minority one. – DJClayworth Apr 18 '11 at 14:44
  • again the false dichtomy. Dangerous generalizations with "most" and "very much a minority one" and please don't get personal with "your approach" when you clearly cannot understand the question. Please, stop pushing. – user1770 Apr 18 '11 at 15:53
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    I understand the question completely, thank you. If you are claiming that a substantial fraction of users want a command line interface (in JavaScript or whatever) to their banking data, supporting evidence would be nice. – DJClayworth Apr 25 '11 at 20:01
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    I gree with hhh - it is less relevant what the differing levels of popularity are, and more relevant if such an interface is provided at all. Interfaces are of interest not just to the rare end-user like the OP, but also tool developers and independent financial service providers. There is great use in having a programmatic interface to the bank's back end, e.g. for handling many accounts at once. As suggested by my answer, there already are implementations available for many banks that either bypass the GUI entirely or use screen-scraping technology to automate it. – Ether May 1 '11 at 15:55

I think I get your question, but your wording is throwing a lot of us off. If what you want is a clean, effective and efficient interface over port 80, then USAA.com has done some great usability work.

Additionally, they have really done some pioneering work with web services and mobile applications. On top of that, they have excellent document archiving. I can navigate their site more quickly than any of the other I've used.

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You should definitively check boobank. It's not a bank !, but a framework that helps people to create quick interface modules to any bank so you don't have to use your web browser anymore with them. Actually, there is already an honest list of modules to access a few banks (I guess these banks are all french banks for now), but contributing a module seems easy and reading other contributed modules should constitute a good start.

So boobank can work with any bank provided the interface with the bank is written.

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You could keep an eye on BankSimple perhaps? I think it looks interesting at least... too bad I don't live in the US...

They are planning to create an API where you can do everything you can do normally. So when that is released you could probably create your own command-line interface :)

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