Nedbank unveils own free PFM service

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Nedbank today took the wraps off its own online personal financial management service, MyFinancialLife, as it forges ahead with its new digital strategy.

MyFinancialLife will become available to both Nedbank clients and non-Nedbank clients by the end of August - free of charge.

The new service will provide six core functions at launch, namely net worth calculation, spend analysis, budgeting, saving for a goal, customisable alerts and a calendar view.

In many ways, the service resembles the functionality of independent PFM service 22seven, but Nedbank says its own offering is in no way a reaction to such services and has been a long time coming.

Ingrid Johnson, group managing executive for retail and business banking for Nedbank, says the bank had its “light-bulb” moment in May 2010, and has been working towards launching MyFinancialLife since.

“We want MyFinancialLife to be the single hub and place where everything comes together for people's financial lives. We would love the service to be the one place you go for everything you need financially.”

According to Nedbank, MyFinancialLife will be built into its online banking service, and will automatically have a live feed of data for existing clients. Non-Nedbank clients will be able to access the service via a standalone site. Nedbank also suggests the services could be used by small businesses as a free budgeting service.

Tracking progress

The service automatically categorises spending and income, and provides graphical representations in the form of bar graphs and pie charts to help users gain a holistic picture of their finances. MyFinancialLife will scrape all transactional data from the past 90 days, to build an overview of the user's finances. Nedbank clients will benefit from having their data pulled into the service as a live feed, while for non-Nedbank clients the service will update on each login.

Some of the differentiators of the service, apart from being free of charge, include the features that allow saving towards a goal, and the customisable SMS and e-mail alerts that users can set up in order to remain up to date on how they are faring with their budgeting and savings.

“The calendar view plots your spending by date, helping to keep track of daily cash flow. The service also helps you create a budget and stick to it, track your spending against your budget and alerts you when you have exceeded it.”

In terms of saving towards a specific goal, the service also suggests how much the user should save each month to achieve it - charting the user's progress towards the goal.

“Spend analysis is an area in which we also expect users to spend a lot of time unpacking their needs versus their wants, and identifying where to cut back on frivolous spending,” says Nedbank.

The bank emphasises that the MyFinancialLife is just the beginning, and the service will evolve over time. Possible features the bank is working towards is a mobile version of the service, as well as being able to offer clients customised service offerings based on the insights gleaned from their use of the service.

Nedbank says it will continue to increase the capability of MyFinancialLife by expanding the range of accounts that can be drawn into the service - such as loyalty cards and store cards.

Competitive backlash?

Following the controversy surrounding the launch of 22seven, when asked if there is any concern as to how the other banks may respond to their clients using MyFinancialLife, Nedbank says it advises competitors to “think very carefully” about how they will respond to Nedbank “leading the charge” in this space. “We hope sanity will prevail, and there will be a revolution of demand.”

Nedbank managing executive for client engagement, Anton de Wet, says: “Because of the power of this service, it would be very unfortunate if other banks blocked their customers from using it.”

De Wet adds that MyFinancialLife users can have peace of mind in the security of the service because it exists within the banking environment. Like 22seven, Nedbank is also using financial aggregator Yodlee, to facilitate the link between the service and the user's online banking profile.

“MyFinancialLife allows clients to link accounts from various banks and non-banking financial service providers in a highly-secure environment, which is enabled through an innovative digital security solution called Approve-it,” says De Wet. “Nedbank clients can access MyFinancialLife directly from within their electronic banking, providing an additional security layer.”

Both existing Nedbank clients and new users will be prompted to create a new logon through Nedbank ID, allowing the user to use their own e-mail address as the username. Approve-it then adds an extra layer of security by prompting the client to authenticate at registration and logon when accessing MyFinancialLife.

According to Nedbank, since the introduction of its new security features such as Approve-it, there hasn't been a successful phishing attack on any of its users since March.

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