Wesabe Brings Real-Time Bank Account Data To The Desktop

FILED UNDER: Technology

An innovative personal finance service called Wesabe has caught my attention with a desktop widget that gives you real-time reporting of all your bank account balances and transactions.

The widget is available for Mac and Windows Vista users and promises to provide you with all of your financial data in one place, without having to go through the tedious login process for each and every account you hold.

To take advantage of the service you must create an account with Wesabe, where you can add your bank/credit card accounts and upload statements in OFX, QFX, QIF or OFC data formats. The desktop widget / gadget is updated through another tool called the Uploader which can be run as a standalone app, or as a Firefox extension. This tool automatically grabs current data from your bank account and feeds it to your widget via Wesabe’s site, that is, if your bank supports auto-downloading.

The downside to the service is that while hundreds of banks and credit cards are available to select from, many (particularly UK banks), aren’t compatible with the auto download feature and require you to manually download a statement from each bank you’re with. Defeats the purpose, really. This is not Wesabe’s fault, but rather due to the complex security logins UK banks use such as random number generators or forms asking for particular parts of a password with the parts changing on each visit. Many US banks, however, are quite accommodating with simple fixed login details which will work with no problem.

I signed up and listed my HSBC UK account which, unfortunately, does not support auto-updating. There is a hack that may make it work, but I haven’t investigated that as yet. Despite my troubles in getting this feature set up, my experience with the service so far has been a very positive one. I am even looking into opening a compatible bank account just to use this service because I feel it would be incredibly useful.

The biggest hurdle the service has to overcome is the public’s fear of security issues. To take advantage of the auto-uploader you need to supply your banking username and password, which is sent over the internet using industry-standard encryption. Apparently this information, when used with the auto-uploader, is never given to Wesabe and is kept encrypted on your computer. They do seem to be very focused on the security aspect which is reassuring; not just with passwords, but with all account data they hold.

Founded in December 2005 and located San Francisco, California, Wesabe aims to give its members a better understanding of how they spend their money. With easier access to personal financial data, the service will likely inspire many people to become more active in the management of their money.

The reporting is customizable with tags which makes for easier reading of your statements and the community of users provide savings tips which you receive on a contextual basis, ensuring you only receive information relevant to you. Wesabe is shaping up to be the Web 2.0 of personal finance.

Wesabe via PRNewswire

Comments (One Response):

What a great post. The more I read on this site the more I like it. Simple, straightforward advice and it works.

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