Wesabe have launched something quite significant: they’ve opened up their data to other applications, applications outside Wesabe itself. That’s important, because it makes it possible to create mashups and other kinds of apps using an individual’s financial data. It is also important because, as they quickly point out, it provides an API to the bank, even if the bank doesn’t provide one itself.
Wesabe has consistently surprised me at how well they are reading the very forward edge of the market, and I have to admit that their’s is a case study of why the small , nimble organisation is so much better placed to serve the niche the big institutional players that have held sway till now.
Anyway, when I first read the press release (Wesabe are marvellous at letting everyone know when they are doing something new, so hat-tip to them), I was pretty excited. I was thinking, immediately, it would be possible to mash their data into our internet banking platform. Wesabe, because of its operational agility, has been able to build something that would be much more complicated and involved for a bank to build. And, to top it all off, they’ve got data that spans the market, something that banks themselves have tried (with account aggregation) and largely not been able to make work very well.
So integrating Wesabe into a bank web site seems to me to be an exercise that could be interesting. The exchange in value is obvious – a banks many millions of internet banking customers would get a better experience as they shared their classification and collaboration, whilst at the same time, Wesabians would have the value of the input of those same customers.
Of course, it is the read-only nature of the new interface that causes the problems here. While it might be possible to get the customer’s Wesabe based data into the internet banking channel, it wouldn’t be possible to provide the facility to update it. They’d have to go outside the internet banking site for that. Considering a Wesabe customer is going to be in the IB channel to get the transactions to start with, (or at least, use the downloading tool that Wesabe provides), it isn’t the best user experience I can imagine.
So my challenge to Weabe is this: you have opened up your data to end users, and people that have been given permission by those end users to use the data. Now take it one step further and allow those users to add the Wesabe classification in the bank channel where they are going to get the transactions in the first place. I suspect that forward thinking banks will be interested in a discussion around how to best work with you to make such a thing happen.