Banking for Geeks

Heard via @chieftech on twitter that the Banking Technology 2008 conference is on today. It's great to see the financial world engaging with developments online and thinking about new technologies and the Web 2.0 space, but the agenda strikes me as somewhat weird, perhaps driven mainly by the vendors they could get willing to spruik their wares?

How, for instance, can you have a "Banking Technology" conference and not have at least one session on 'online banking'? Isn't this the place where your technology interfaces with your customers? Weird.

My impression of the state of online banking in Australia is pretty underwhelming. As a geek who'd love to see some real technology innovation impact our online banking experiences, here are some wishlist items dedicated to the participants of Banking Technology 2008. I'd love to see the following:

  • Multiple logins to an account e.g. a readonly account for downloading things, a bill-paying account that can make payments to existing vendors, but not configure new ones, etc. This kind of differentiation would allow automation (scripts/services) using 'safe' accounts, without having to put your master online banking details at risk.

  • API access to certain functions e.g. balance checking, transaction downloads, bill payment to existing vendors, internal transfers, etc. Presumably dependent upon having multiple logins (previous), to help mitigate security issues.

  • Tagging functionality - the ability to interactively tag transactions (e.g. 'utilities', 'groceries', 'leisure', etc.), and to get those tags included in transaction reporting and/or downloading. Further, allow autotagging of transactions via descriptions/type/other party details etc.

  • Alert conditions - the ability to setup various kinds of alerts on various conditions, like low or negative balances, large withdrawals, payroll deposit, etc. I'm not so much thinking of plugging into particular alert channels here (email, SMS, IM, etc), just the ability to set 'flags' on conditions.

  • RSS support - the ability to configure various kinds of RSS feeds of 'interesting' data. Authenticated, of course. Examples: per-account transaction feeds, an alert condition feed (low balance, transaction bouncing/reversal, etc.), bill payment feed, etc. Supplying RSS feeds also means that such things can be plugged into other channels like email, IM, twitter, SMS, etc.

  • Web-friendly interfaces - as Eric Schmidt of Google says, "Don't fight the internet". In the online banking context, this means DON'T use technologies that work against the goodness of the web (e.g. frames, graphic-heavy design, Flash, RIA silos, etc.), and DO focus on simplicity, functionality, mobile clients, and web standards (HTML, CSS, REST, etc.).

  • Web 2.0 goodness - on the nice-to-have front (and with the proviso that it degrades nicely for non-javascript clients) it would be nice to see some ajax goodness allowing more friendly and usable interfaces and faster response times.

Other things I've missed? Are there banks out there already offering any of these?

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