Banks keen for links with Money, Quicken

New Zealand online banking customers may soon be able to access their bank accounts through personal financial management software such as Microsoft Money and Intuit Quicken. At least three New Zealand banks are keen to provide links between personal financial software and online banking so that customers using the products can download transactions directly into their financial management software. At the moment, a major drawback of these products is that users have to type in all their banking transactions themselves.

New Zealand online banking customers may soon be able to access their bank accounts through personal financial management software such as Microsoft Money and Intuit Quicken.

At least three New Zealand banks are keen to provide links between personal financial software and online banking so that customers using the products can download transactions directly into their financial management software. At the moment, a major drawback of these products is that users have to type in all their banking transactions themselves.

Countrywide Bank, which expects to launch its online service by the end of next month, is extremely interested, according to chief information officer Ron Hooton.

“This type of thing is very much in line with our thinking and I see a lot of potential. One of the features of Microsoft Money is that the banks are able to brand it as their own so we could offer Countrywide Money to our customers as a way of accessing our web site.” Hooton gives an 18-month time frame for offering such a service.

BankDirect technology manager Derek Redman says such a service is a natural complement to online banking.

“It is certainly in our plans and we see it as absolutely necessary to be able to offer that service. It’s just a question of when. Being a new bank on the block we have many things we want to do but we’ll be looking at it very hard. It is one of the things we want to do.”

ASB IT director Garry Fissenden says the bank has had a number of queries about such capability.

“It is one of the things we are looking at and we’ll be able to say more about it in the next six months.”

Both Microsoft and Intuit have just released products which include an Internet browser. With the click of a browser button, customers can access their online banking services from within the software.

The latest versions, Microsoft Money 98 and Intuit Quicken Deluxe 98 also incorporate Open Financial Exchange (OFX), specification announced last year which provides a common standard to allow connectivity to banking services.

Microsoft Money has been bundled with 90% of Windows 95 PCs for the past two years. According to IDC New Zealand, 200,000 PCs are shipped here each year, the majority of which run Windows 95. However, whether people use it is another question. Microsoft says not all copies are registered.

Worldwide, Intuit owns the lion’s share of the financial management software market with about 10 million users. Quicken is distributed in New Zealand by Auckland-based Tech Pacific.

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