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Developer-Friendly Banks?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the or-how-about-friendly-to-anyone dept.

Businesses 158

tyen writes "Any suggestions for a 'developer-friendly' bank for small businesses? The banking world is awash in data protocols that business customers who are/have coders would find useful, like BAI to extract all the raw data from an ACH or SWIFT transfer. Unfortunately, the ones I have spoken with about this access are still stuck in the Dark Ages of computing; they price the access like only big companies still have the skills to tap into these interfaces. For example, one of the four US banks with a perfect trading record this past quarter quoted us USD five figures for access to several of our accounts via BAI format. Per year. After waiving sign-up fees. Are there any banks out there that have a more progressive attitude about letting small, entrepreneurial developers work with their business accounts in a more modern, dare we say automated, way? With big businesses demanding EFT integration from small business vendors, and globalization rewarding premiums to nimble, lean businesses that automate wherever possible, automating the retrieval of this information (which is not available in consumer-oriented access like OFX) becomes an increasingly pressing issue for the small guys."

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Premium features (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221298)

If you can access it with a browser, you can script it too.

Unfortunately businesses always ask more for not-so-common and premium features. This is also quite close access to their internal systems and since it's probably 0.01% of customers who need such access, they have to ask more from those who actually need it. Banks have to develop, secure and maintain the system too and it costs.

Re:Premium features (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221648)

Yeah, but the problem with screen-scraping is that you'll spend a large chunk of your life trying to turn HTML back into the structured data it would have started at before the bank's systems processed it and dealing with every tiny little change which may not be immediately obvious to the naked eye but may well affect the processing. Which is a PITA if that's not your main business.

Re:Premium features (1)

philj (13777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222546)

The amusing thing is that most banks have their web based interfaces screen scraping their old green screen systems because they're petrified of upgrading anything!

I have no problem with that (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223018)

So, the underlying systems that most banks use are extremely robust after having been tested for decades and - very possibly - being a lot simplet than similar systems would be if they were coded today? That sounds pretty ideal situation, to be honest.

Flash? (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221744)

If you can access it with a browser, you can script it too.

That would be true for HTML. Unfortunately, many banks have flash-only access.

Re:Flash? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222192)

That's okay. There's a trick [mit.edu] for that shit too.

Re:Flash? (3, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224344)

if your bank uses a flash interface your first step needs to be close your account and switch banks before you get pwned

Re:Premium features (2, Informative)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221818)

My bank, ING, has MT940 and csv exports on any account here in the Netherlands, personal, small business, non-profits, any. Or are you looking for actual interfaces with which you can do the banking so as to circumvent the website of your bank?

Oh no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221350)

You're not getting away with automating the economy in your favour.

"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (4, Funny)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221376)

Sounds like an oxymoron to me.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221384)

A friendly bank is one who uses lube before they bend you over, isn't it?

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (0, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221426)

No no no, friendly bank is the one that does not hit you on the head with a baseball bat more than 3 times after having its way with you. You don't want them to use the lube, they use the same stuff that kills the engines on cars in the 'cash for clunkers' program for that.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223012)

A friendly bank is one who uses lube before they bend you over, isn't it?

A friendly bank doesn't use sand until you are well broken in.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221414)

I'm quite sure banks are really friendly to you if you have enough money.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222690)

I'm quite sure banks are really friendly to you if you have enough money.

Yeah, good point. I'll bet Warren Buffet gets a better reception when he walks into his bank than I do when I walk into mine.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223026)

Does Milburn Dryesdale ring a tune?

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221470)

It's amazing how well propaganda works. There's a LOT of friendly banks that will bend over backwards to help their customers, but you wouldn't know that because you can't do anything but parrot CNN and the Democrats.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32224190)

The -1 troll just proved his point. lol

Be careful with BAI (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221488)

I overheard this conversation between some programmers in my company about BAI, It was pretty heated. What I namely remember is:

Ok! Ok! I must have, I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place
or something. Shit. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail.

I can't remember what happened to them... It was around the time that we had a big fire at our main office.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (3, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222688)

By and large, yes - but it's not impossible. Of course, it really depends what you're looking to do. Many merchant processors allow you to move money in and out of your account(s) via ACH, and plenty of them have APIs with varying degrees of crappiness. You'll find that initiating the transfers tends to be fairly straightforward with most of them; it's the reconciliation of which transfers actually went through that's a pain in the ass (download a rather nonsenisical CSV file over FTP that's only available after a seemingly random time of day, rather than just pinging an API every few hours with a cron job).

I'm currently working with a company called Check Gateway which has a pretty good API at least by bank standards and staff that's quite helpful and willing to do stuff that a lot of other processors aren't comfortable with.

Re:"Friendly" and "Bank" in the same sentence? (2, Funny)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223178)

They are located next door to the consumer friendly movie studio.

Good Luck with that. (4, Interesting)

Lil'wombat (233322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221388)

Banking thrives on secrecy. That last thing they want are outsiders poking around with their data and protocols - lord know what you might find. You best bet would be to hit up the next bank president you come across on the golf course (private - not public). Barring that you could try dealing with one of the online banks like ING or perhaps a credit union?

Re:Good Luck with that. (2, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221624)

ING Direct is really crabby about letting individuals access their information through services such as Mint.com. They're also heavier on the security-theater than actual security, and their website keeps getting worse every year. Meh. They do have a pretty decent savings account rate, though.

Re:Good Luck with that. (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221976)

Meh, interest rates not as good as my local bank, which allows me to pay all my bills online. The one thing I don't like is that I can't stop ACH without stopping all checks and online bill payment too.

What do you expect... (5, Interesting)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221412)

... they're in it for the money.

Very few small clients will access their accounts in that way. As such, the service is priced with the large client in mind. They will not drop the fees for a small client because then the larger clients would insist that they drop the fees for them, too. Plus, it's a pain in the butt to administer the "small fish" they might pull in by lowering their fees.

Tell you what... You think this is a brilliant way to make money? Open your own bank. It's actually legal (and relatively easy) in this country. It's a good time to open a small bank, too - people are sick of the big banks. Find a backer and let them know that there's this underserved banking market out there. I'm sure you'll find plenty of takers if the idea is a good one.

But, in general, the main reason a banking service isn't offered to you is because the service isn't profitable enough to offer it to the market you're part of.

Re:What do you expect... (3, Interesting)

digitalnoise615 (1145903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221456)

Tell you what... You think this is a brilliant way to make money? Open your own bank. It's actually legal (and relatively easy) in this country. It's a good time to open a small bank, too - people are sick of the big banks. Find a backer and let them know that there's this underserved banking market out there. I'm sure you'll find plenty of takers if the idea is a good one.

But, in general, the main reason a banking service isn't offered to you is because the service isn't profitable enough to offer it to the market you're part of.

I would second this. Seriously, if someone were to start a geek-friendly bank, with reasonable terms, I would seriously consider using it, and I've got quite a few friends who would as well.

The issue, as mentioned, is finding a backer. To open a bank, you have to have a certain amount of cash on-hand, and that's where the sticking point comes for most of us, otherwise we'd all open banks.

Re:What do you expect... (0, Offtopic)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221486)

Isn't the Federal Gov't still handing out wads of cash as if they were chicklets? Or are they only handing them out to banks that already owe them more than $1B?

Re:What do you expect... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221574)

So to get money from the government to support my failing business

1. Give untrustworthy people lots of cast
2. Wait for everyone to stop paying you back
3. Get a big handout from the government.
4. Give yourself a $6million bonus.

Damn I forgot the ??? part. I guess thats why they're rich. They figured out that part.

Re:What do you expect... (0, Offtopic)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221628)

Not exactly cash - interest-free loans. They're not being handed out indiscriminately either.

Whether they should be doing that is one on which we might have a healthy debate, but mischaracterising it as you do isn't cool.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222394)

Only to the politically connected.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221750)

Tell you what... You think this is a brilliant way to make money? Open your own bank.

Really? Have you done it? Can you point me to somebody who's done it?

Re:What do you expect... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221770)

Goldman Sachs did it just last year.

Zing!

Re:What do you expect... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223044)

Goldman Sachs did it just last year.

Zing!

And they will be first in line for Bailout #2.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223222)

I think it's pretty clear from the context that I was talking about somebody who wasn't already rich.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223286)

Hence the "Zing!".

Re:What do you expect... (2)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222310)

I don't personally know anybody, but there are thousands of banks in the United States, so it must be possible to start one...

In fact, a quick web search turns up this news story [registeredrep.com] about people starting their own banks. And little more searching turns up the FDIC site for bankers [fdic.gov] , which presumably has information and forms required for opening a bank.

As others have pointed out, the main difficulty would be establishing credibility. "Hey, I'm some guy, trust me with your savings," just isn't going to cut it.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223066)

I don't personally know anybody, but there are thousands of banks in the United States, so it must be possible to start one...

I strongly suggest that you read "Behold a Pale Horse" by Bill Cooper, you might be surprised what can happen.

Re:What do you expect... (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223208)

Sigh. Can't anybody on Slashdot read in context? Of course I don't think that banks just magically appear. I wasn't asking if it's possible to start a bank. I was asking if it's possible for an ordinary person with no capital or business connections to start a bank.

When I followed the link you sent me, I ended up on an advertising page for some webinar or something. If there was a way past it, I couldn't find it.

So a googled "Start a bank". Got nothing but links for schemes to avoid taxes by starting an offshore bank or other business. I think most or all of them were scams.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222332)

Tell you what... You think this is a brilliant way to make money? Open your own bank.

Really? Have you done it? Can you point me to somebody who's done it?

I can point you to thousands of banks where it has been done. Not good enough?

Re:What do you expect... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223162)

Jeez, did you really think that I was asking for an example of anybody starting a bank? We're talking about banking options for a small development firm without a lot of capital. Which means that in this context, I was asking about somebody like that starting a bank, not some random capitalist.

Re:What do you expect... (5, Informative)

rjlieb (1714418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223212)

Tell you what... You think this is a brilliant way to make money? Open your own bank.

Really? Have you done it? Can you point me to somebody who's done it?

I've been directly involved in the creation of two banks in my career and indirectly involved in a half-dozen more. Detail vary, but you generally need to raise less than $10 million. You also need a lot of patience. New banks take years to start making money.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223268)

In other words, it's not true that anybody can start a bank. You have to have enough experience in the industry so that investors will give you the startup costs. Or have a few million of your own lying around. I think that excludes the typical developer who just needs a bank that will provide him with electronic services on a small scale at a reasonable price.

Re:What do you expect... (1)

rjlieb (1714418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223396)

In other words, it's not true that anybody can start a bank. You have to have enough experience in the industry so that investors will give you the startup costs. Or have a few million of your own lying around. I think that excludes the typical developer who just needs a bank that will provide him with electronic services on a small scale at a reasonable price.

Okay, I'll give you that. A single person couldn't do it on their own. You need a group of investors and you need to hire experienced people. I guess my point was that there are no artificial barriers to entry.

Re:What do you expect... (2)

rocker_wannabe (673157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222570)

The idea of "working with a bank" is somewhat of an oxymoron. I agree with the Frank that opening your own bank is really the way to go. If you're not greedy I'm told it's very hard to lose money running a bank. You're guaranteed to make the difference between the interest you pay on savings accounts and the treasury bill rate at the very least. Maybe times have changed and that's not really true anymore but it's worth looking into IMHO.

DIY Credit Union (5, Interesting)

Legendre (634519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221464)

Roll-out your own credit union for geeks. I'd be interested in a bank with the services you've described. I'm absolutely sick of big banks and their big fees for even minor infractions.

Re:DIY Credit Union (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221670)

I'm absolutely sick of big banks and their big fees for even minor infractions.

I'm not sure what your plans are for a bank that would use the protocols that you describe, but I can tell you that as a small business, the one that is most "friendly" to me is the one that doesn't structure its fees and accounts to milk you for every transaction.

There was actually a time in this country, before "deregulation" when banks made money from taking in deposits, lending that money out and charging interest. They would pay you compound interest for the money that you deposited with them. Sometimes, they'd give you a toaster or a blender on top of the compound interest

That was it: deposits and loans. And they were able to get rich beyond imagining from that simple, honest business model. They built huge, ornate buildings with cupolas and pillars and marble floors that squeaked when you walked on them. There made so much money that they built gilded temples with a tiny fraction of the profits. Generation after generation, they just got rich, bless their hearts.

But then came "deregulation" when banks decided that the unimaginable wealth they could accumulate from the "deposits and loans" model was just not sexy enough. They needed more. Their shareholders demanded more. They not only needed to make even greater wealth, but the rate at which they made tons of money had to increase every single quarter.

Flash forward a few decades, and banks don't really care for deposits and loans any more, because there are these exotic, sexy bits of fiction called "derivatives". They are the banking equivalent of scratch-off Lotto tickets. They fucked it up so badly that the entire economy went into a tailspin, from which we are only now beginning to recover. They fucked things up so badly that they can't even make money from the old-fashioned "deposit and loan" model that worked so well for so long, so now they invented a new profit center, known as "fees". But since their customers have things like computers and calculators and other modern tools for adding up columns of numbers, they have to make these fees hidden and confusing, like ninjas, so that unless you are very, very careful (and maybe even then) you will end up paying a fee. For example, for years my business account has been "free" as long as I keep a certain balance. Then, one day, in a codicil buried three pages deep in a special agreement rider that they mentioned on the back side of page 3 of my monthly statement, they said that unless I used the debit card for that business account at least 5 times within every month, I would be charged $100 for the privilege of letting them hold my money. Further, the "month" is counted not the way we count months, from say April 1 to May 1, but from some shifting day which is tied to the statement period. And by the way, that "month" ends at the open of business tomorrow, so sorry, but you've been charged $100. Don't worry, though, because we deducted it from your account without mentioning it to you before. If it wasn't for a lady that I went to high school with who works at the bank who clued me, I'd never have known about this little trick and would have been hit with that $100 at least once, if not for several months because I didn't expect this kind of sleazy behavior from a business with such a spiffy and noble-looking building with marble floors, so I don't pour over my monthly statements like the Torah, because the only people who can use the account are me and my wife and I know how much money is supposed to be there, give or take, so if it's in the ballpark, I assume that money isn't being funneled out with such arcane practices.

When President Obama and the liberal Democrats in congress proposed requiring the banks to actually disclose this innovative profit center known as "fees", there immediately went up a hue and cry that these regulations were Marxist and Communist and Fascist and Czarist and probably Muslim in some secret way, because we all know that banks cannot make money unless they are set free from any regulation, like say, one that would require them to get rich by "taking deposits and lending money".

The moral of the story is this: Don't worry too much about the protocols that the banks data comes in. Just try to find a local bank or credit union whose business model is not completely based on fucking you over. Try to create a relationship with a human being at the bank itself.

Then pray.

Re:DIY Credit Union (4, Insightful)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221820)

You must like listening to yourself talk.

Flash forward a few decades, and banks don't really care for deposits and loans any more, because there are these exotic, sexy bits of fiction called "derivatives". They are the banking equivalent of scratch-off Lotto tickets.

Sounds like this is taken verbatim out of some bestseller that's popular with the masses. Derivatives are no more "fictional" than other types of securities -- they're just slightly more complex. They're also nothing like Lotto tickets. Please learn about actual derivatives in the real world, such as options [wikipedia.org] and credit default swaps [wikipedia.org] . Both are derivatives, both are useful to our society, neither is fictional, and neither is anything like a Lotto ticket.

Don't worry too much about the protocols that the banks data comes in. Just try to find a local bank or credit union whose business model is not completely based on fucking you over. Try to create a relationship with a human being at the bank itself.

In other words, "I don't know anything about the topic at hand, but I have strong opinions about something unrelated, and I'll be damned if I don't ejaculate them every place I can."

Please, don't bring down the average IQ of this discussion.

Re:DIY Credit Union (5, Interesting)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221876)

Many of those derivatives really are treated as lotto tickets (you brought up options), and the those MBS tied to the CDS really were sold in a fictitious way (using imaginary non-truths). Yes, GPP likes to talk. That doesn't make him wrong.

Do you work for Goldman Sachs? You sound just like them.

Re:DIY Credit Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222232)

Are you a Marxist? You sound just like them.

It goes both ways.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222246)

Well, ok, I think we're talking past each other. I agree with you that derivatives sometimes "are treated as lotto tickets"—the same way that individual investors treat shares of some random company as lotto tickets.

Derivatives are powerful tools. As such, they can be abused and misused, and certainly it seems that this is what happened in the last few years. However, does this mean that derivatives as a whole should be banned?

I don't work for Goldman Sachs, but I try to follow the ongoing investigation. An executive officer of Goldman Sachs made the statement, "We gave our customers as much risk as they wanted." I certainly don't know whether the customers knew the risks (that seems to be what's under investigation), but on face value, that statement is exactly the goal of an investment firm.

As I mentioned in another post, derivatives are powerful tools that can act as insurance for conservative investing or as leverage for aggressive investing. Derivatives give their users as much risk as desired. The fact that they can be abused or misused (like all powerful tools) doesn't mean that derivatives themselves should be banned.

Re:DIY Credit Union (2, Interesting)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223392)

However, does this mean that derivatives as a whole should be banned?

Only the most ill informed make that claim. Rest assured that I do not. Certain classes of derivatives need to be reevaluated (and regulated at a minimum).

... I try to follow the ongoing investigation. An executive officer of Goldman Sachs made the statement, "We gave our customers as much risk as they wanted." I certainly don't know whether the customers knew the risks (that seems to be what's under investigation), but on face value, that statement is exactly the goal of an investment firm.

Then you know that the deregulation PopeRatzo referred to (with no specificity whatsoever) was the separation between commercial and investment banking. His depiction was certainly long-winded, over-simplified, and lacked some accuracy, but is very close to what happened.

And yes, Goldman's made that claim. That is the theory -- providing reward-potential tied to risk to investors. Personally, I think their employees knew they were selling junk. They don't hold sole responsibility for the meltdown, but I believe they own a share of it. Saying "Our clients are sophisticated" is no excuse for lying to them. (Sometimes the best of lies are to convince someone to ignore the truth.)

Re:DIY Credit Union (1, Informative)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222016)

Okay, I'll take the bait. Setting aside covered shorts, name a derivative that is useful to our society. My stance is that uncovered shorts are, essentially insurance and should be regulated as such.

Re:DIY Credit Union (2, Insightful)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222222)

No bait. Theoretically, all derivatives are useful to our society in the same way that all free-will economic transactions are useful to our society. They allow both parties to be better off—otherwise the transaction wouldn't occur.

Every book on options discusses the benefits (and dangers) of every options position—they all have a role. Some provide insurance, others provide leverage.

Whether insurance (or amount of leverage) should be regulated is another matter.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222572)

So it's just a "free markets = pareto improvement" argument, you've got nothing more than that? I'm going to assume that you know some economics and point out that there is no reason a Walrasian auctioneer needs some players to select negative quantities of some goods. In English, efficient markets have no need for people to use uncovered shorts.

Did it ever occur to you that all of the benefit comes from annualized bonuses for agents who play with principal's long run investments?

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222970)

But not all free-will economic transactions are useful to society. For example, hiring a hitman or selling explosives to terrorists, or a bank loaning a bad risk more (other people's) money than it can afford to lose.

Re:DIY Credit Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222552)

Uhuh, well.

Firstly, anything that people want to buy is by definition useful unless proven otherwise. I could say, "name a single politician that is useful to society" and we could have a long argument about what is strictly 'needed' beyond food, a bed and a shovel to dig a hole to crap in. It's not the case that something is useful if a select committee feels it's useful, but something is rather useful if at least 1 single person finds it useful.

Secondly, a derivative is simply anything that 'derives' its value from some underlying value. A derivative that very many find useful is a currency forward contract - for example, a South African firm wants to buy tractors and an American firm wants to sell tractors to them, however like in any contract the buyer usually gets 30-60-90 days to settle the bill. If the price is in dollars and the South African Rand collapses, the SA firm is screwed. If the price is in SAR and the Rand collapses, the American firm is screwed. Solution: Use a currency forward contract to hedge fluctuations in exchange value. This reduces cross-border trade risks and makes more people trade.

Another derivative some find useful is an interest rate swap. Let's say a bank is giving 20-year mortgages at fixed rates, while the funding for those mortgages is 3-year variable rate. Under normal circumstances the bank would have to say that "sorry guys, if we give a number of you fixed rates and the interest rates go up, that means we'd lose a lot of money, so we just can't afford to take that risk". With derivatives they can use an interest rate swap (pay a fixed rate, say, mortgage minus 1%, receive floating rate) to cancel out that risk. Without derivatives they would have to hold a lot more capital to protect against the risk and even so may still go bankrupt if the rate change too much and the capital was too little, or, they could balance out the loss from a rates increase by offering mortgages where the interest moves the opposite of the market, so the gain/loss cancels out. Then I remember that in the US people can refinance at will, so nobody would get an inverse rate mortgage...

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222672)

Similar to a farmer selling products they are planting (and have not yet produced), your first example is a covered short and there is a natural buyer and seller.

In the second case is not as well defined (who sells these). Clearly the bank is a natural buyer, but who is the natural seller? The way you described it, the seller is essentially accepting the same risk that the bank doesn't want to, nothing has happened but a passing of the buck. The seller is essentially contracting dealing with customers for 1% on their money. But now the seller looks a lot more like a insurance company than a bank because they have accepted a bunch of long term risk. If they sell lots of these contracts, it is like selling too much hurricane insurance or flood insrance in one small area--but there is no other area, world finance markets are essentially all one. They have no method of insuring this risk except to have massive stores of cash, like an insurance company.

Again, uncovered shorts are just insurance and should be regulated as such.

Re:DIY Credit Union (2, Insightful)

stdarg (456557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222872)

Any business that deals with commodities benefits from the availability of derivatives like options and futures because it helps them plan for future costs and protect against sharp volatility.

I have a great example for you. There's a big problem in Pakistan right now because of fluctuations in the price of cotton. Two related industries depend on cotton -- the yarn industry and the higher level textile industry (t-shirts and towels and such) -- but handle the business risk of cotton prices differently.

The yarn industry is smaller and more competitive. Since domestic cotton hedge trading has been banned in Pakistan for decades, the yarn industry actually imports a lot of cotton (which they can secure with futures and options). Because of hedge trading they engaged in last year when prices were lower, they are able to fulfill their international contractual obligations and still remain profitable despite rising input prices.

The textile industry has massive government support. They don't worry so much about business risk because the government bails them out whenever necessary. For instance, the government just enacted a 15% export duty on yarn so that the yarn producers will have to sell their product domestically below the international market price.

Now the yarn industry got royally screwed because of the 15% surprise cost in fulfilling their international orders. This is directly attributable to the lack of risk management in the textile industry, or rather the manner in which the textile industry manages risk (heavy-handed government intervention rather than open market methods). The yarn industry is appealing the decision in court and says they will have to shut down about 70% of their industry (basically all the producers with a large component of export sales) if the decision is not reversed.

I'm not an expert on Pakistan so I may not have the full background correct, but in general most industries that deal with raw commodities benefit from being able to reduce price volatility.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223158)

The first instance is a covered short--the producer is selling something that they already know they will produce next year (cotton). It is a great example of why covered shorts are useful, something I would not argue against. You are the second person to point out the usefulness of covered shorts in response to my request for a useful uncovered short.

As for the yarn industry, it really has no bearing on the question of derivatives. I know of no derivative that offers protection against government regulation, but presumably you can see why there are all sorts of problems with allowing that type of contract, right?

Re:DIY Credit Union (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222106)

Derivatives are no more "fictional" than other types of securities

Now that you mention it, you're right.

There was a time when the stock market was used by companies to raise capital. There was a time when commodities markets were used to limit the exposure of producers to market fluctuation. Now, much less than 10% of what happens on Wall Street has any connection to companies raising capital or producers producing.

CDOs are no more "real" than trading in "Carbon Credits" or betting on the weather.

Also, go fuck yourself.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

astar (203020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222142)

Volker now attacks glass steagall but a few months ago he was pushing it. But in any case, it is well reported that he said not too long ago that the only useful banking innovation in the last few? decades was the ATM machine. And i think he challenged the assembled parasites to name one good thing all these wonder banking innovations have done. But Volker is universally understood to be stupid and such. Well, at this point, I would give you gutless.

McCain Cantwell amendment to the Dudd bill is getting some publicity this week end. I am sure you not only hate it, but I suppose everything FDR did to clean up the banking system. Well he did it on the momentum of the Pecora commmision. And what do you think Cuomo? is up to. Shall we call it Pecora II. I think and I hope your crap is going down hard and all the way. Maybe starting Monday.

Let us remember your wonder derivatives were illegal before 1990 and with a little luck again illegal this year and forever after.

Re:DIY Credit Union (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222156)

You must like listening to yourself talk.

It's not that so much as my many fans have come to expect a certain level of eloquence from me.

I'm nothing if not accommodating.

OK, now go fuck yourself.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224000)

> ejaculate them every place i can

interesting lifestyle

Re:DIY Credit Union (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221932)

Can I interject something into your post?

OK. So it used to be that banks did what you said: they took your money and loaned it and made money on interest and that was great.

So what happened between then and now?

Government producing giant amounts of money happened. Government printing money, getting off the gold standard happened. Government setting up minimum wage laws and taxing income and in various ways regulating and thus creating Giant Monopolies happened.

The economy of savings (like putting money in a bank and holding it there) was gone. The Government decided that to satisfy its desire never to shrink with an economic downturn (a bust, which is a fix for the boom problem) it must adopt the Keynesian economics model, which is this: Government must encourage consumption.

Government must encourage consumption and NOT production. That's the policy. How, do you ask, do they approach this? Bizarre income tax laws, that allow you to deduct interest payments on things like houses; regulation to get rid of competition (this is the part where large corporations took over by the way), encouraging people to get into debt to buy those gadgets that the Producer nations were supplying very cheaply and in great quantities. Housing bubble is a Government creation, it is the credit bubble that is fueled by the Government Insuring unsustainable lending to people who cannot pay for a house if the interest rates go up even a bit, the lending with no down-payment, that's the idea: you buy a house and it will go up in price and you don't ever need to worry about anything, you can sell it and get more cash out then if you were working even, or you can walk away, I mean the banks would own it and sell it themselves, right? Because the idea was that the prices never go down, and that idea is Government driven!

Government setting interest rates at 0%, printing money and giving it to their friends and to anybody it seems, who bothers to ask for it, I mean ask the Fed who they give money to? They won't tell you.

So in this situation what possible SAVINGS are you talking about? What savings? Who has savings? Savings don't make any sense in this economy, you can live by borrowing forever, so of-course nobody save anything, everyone lives on credit.

Good luck opening a bank that operates by taking these ephemeral 'savings' and lending them to anyone.

Do you know how the largest banks make their incredible profits today? They get the money at 0% from the Fed and then they buy T-Bills printed by the Fed that actually have a return that is MORE than 0%. There you go, you make money. Try competing with that kind of a business model, nobody can.
 

Re:DIY Credit Union (3, Interesting)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221996)

Maybe they got keynes wrong?

Under a Keynesian model, the government sets policies that will charge up an economy when the private sector is in a bug slump. However, the government should also try to cool down the economy when it grows too fast, precisely to contain possible bubbles. You can't really do what Keynes suggested by just looking at one side of the coin, which is what we saw for the last decade and a half.

Now, you could argue that the Keynesian model still fails due to the complexity of the market, or because the government intervention can be gained, but at least describe it right.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222264)

Keynes is wrong all around. 'Charging up' the economy that NEEDS the bust is wrong, it only delays and worsens the inevitable collapse. Boom and bust are totally normal parts of a cycle - bust is the fix for the boom. Boom is expansion, boom allows inefficiencies to grow, bust removes the inefficiencies, restructures the market. Before the US Government decided to control this with Keynes ideas the market in US had normal boom/bust cycles and busts normally lasted months, no more than a year and happened maybe once in a decade. That is good, that is not bad, it allows removing the fat. Sure it kills some jobs, but the restructuring brings them back quickly. The Great Depression was a normal Depression after Government intervention that decided it would print money and set lending standards.

Keynes ideas failed also to predict what would happen after the WWII, while the Austrian school of economics predicted it correctly. Keynes ideas failed by deducing that after the war, too many people would come home and the unemployment would be high. Austrian school predicts that abundance of labor is good for production, it allows the capital to work together with the labor to produce new things, plus Austrians actually noticed that women were the ones working back in the US and that they would go back home, really, while it is great for women to be Able to work and get the same pay as man, many would prefer not to, they are forced to when the man stop making enough to support the family.

Keynes entire idea that Government can control Economy is ridiculous. Government can allow the Economy (Free Market) to work or it can interfere. Guess what the politicians always chose? Why would they want economy to work and why would they want to see Boom / Bust cycles? After all, Governments are a burden, they are not producers and their spending programs should be the first to go during a bust and that means losing jobs for many Government employees, they can't have it.

Re:DIY Credit Union (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222086)

Government producing giant amounts of money happened.

The government has been printing money for a long time, and banks did very well taking deposits and lending money during that time.

It was the deregulation that started around '80 when the banks really decided that investment banking was a better business than retail banking.

Re:DIY Credit Union (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222220)

Not like this they weren't. The money was printed but the Government created Monopolies still did not leave the country. Monopolies leave countries with high production costs and go to countries with low production costs and then the jobs disappear and then people live more and more on credit and then Government prints more and more to supply money for the party.

Total misunderstandings on many levels. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222372)

In between the flowery rhetoric and populist issue framing, there's a few fundamental economic bits and pieces you simply don't understand.

Banks used to make their money from the spread between deposits and interest rates. In addition, investment banks (like Goldman Sachs and others) did so from underwriting. It wasn't the case that in the old days there _were no_ investment banks - rather, there was a _split_ between banks and investment banks. You cannot have a 'split' between X and Y without there existing any Y, can you?

And so investment banks, like Goldman Sachs and others, have been making profits from "fees" for about the last - what - 100 years? I believe many were founded in the very early 1900s. Trying to speak about "fee income" like it's some newfangled thing is deceptive and therefore evil.

Furthermore - it is absolutely the case that the percentage of income banks have been making from the spread between deposit and lending rates have gone down a lot. Indeed, the spread itself has gone down a lot, and banks have sought income from other sources. Do you know who profits when there is a low difference between deposit rates and lending rates? Your example that "in the old days banks used to build their palaces with this spread, but they don't any more" is actually a fantastic example of the total opposite of what you say - because it means that the value of those gilded palaces has actually been placed in the pockets of consumers and borrowing firms rather than in the pocket of banks. That's right, if banks have competed down the spread on lending, that means all the money that would have gone into their pockets instead go into the pockets of borrowers.

As for your extremely selective and propagandist portrayal of bank activities, perhaps you know the context for the quote "as long as the music is playing you've got to get up and dance"? This was spoken by the CEO of Citigroup to indicate that he was very uncomfortable with the levels of housing loans given, and _many_ reliable sources state that several banks appealed to the regulators to implement more stringent house lending terms. The regulators declined. What could have caused a situation like that? Competitive pressure. How did the competitive pressure start off? Well, there was a series of legal prosecutions and fines handed out to banks that imposed too strict lending terms. Banks were FORCED by the government in the late 90s and early 00s to give more housing loans at easier terms. The majority of loans were not given under minority lending schemes, and it's certainly debatable what the trigger was for the giant housing rally and the removal of those same conservative barriers that are extremely clear in the banks' secret requests for stricter regulation, but to portray it as if the problems of the world are due to evil actions by banks is in itself deceptive and therefore evil. You probably took your nick as a form of satire, but if you see Pope Ratzo as an evil and populist pope, you fit the deceptiveness well.

Learn a bit more about banking before you pull out the rhetorical demagoguery next time. And start being an honest man.

Re:DIY Credit Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223040)

I just want to point out that in those "great" old days, when transaction fees were low, or non-existent, and they didn't gouge you at every turn, even paid moderate interest rates on deposits, they charged for the f-ing account. There weren't "no-fee" checking accounts back then. In the end, you pay about the same, and get back about the same, only it's more transparent, in that they're charging smaller fees, opposed to an up-front fee for the account itself.

Re:DIY Credit Union (2, Interesting)

ncgnu08 (1307339) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223766)

Amen brother! And while the following posts seem to argue the validity of derivatives, the are purposely designed to confuse and mislead the average person. You can find interview after interview with the people that actually work in these markets in which they acknowledge A)these are very confusing and hard to follow (in fact many of them do not fully understand all of the principles involved), and B) they are designed this way to avoid scrutiny and create "privacy by confusion" allowing banks and these markets to operate free from oversight.

Do derivatives and these markets have a valid place in our financial system? Possibly, and there is plenty of room for a healthy debate on the topic. Do they have any business being mixed in with the average "deposit and loan" community bank? Absolutely not. The greed and arrogance of these banks is amazing. The previous post to which I am responding is correct about banks not being happy making money as they have for years and years. Now they have to generate fees and purposely try to mislead their customers so they can rack up said fees. I know my bank, soon to be former bank, now charges a yearly fee on my "free account, no matter what balance I keep. It is not enough that I never write checks, so all my banking online, live by my debit card (on which they make money), and use direct deposit. They now have to hold my direct deposit for an extra day before I can access it. NO longer is the money there at midnight, it is available sometime between a few hours to a day later (kind of like the cable guy). The bank cannot even tell me when it will be available.

I feel that it is sad to say, but the only way to move forward seems to be with a credit union. At least then I can, god forbid, use my money when I need it. Rather than argue amongst ourselves about derivatives, let us agree on a common conclusion: the banks are now in the business of screwing all of us over, and business is booming...

ACH (4, Interesting)

astar (203020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221468)

I do not know about stupid bank fees, but I recall that ACH is as you say extremely well documented. And there is a setup for a testing protocol built in. There is a spec book that I imagine is say $100 and freely available. If you were not particular about language or schedule or, what is the word, maybe track record, I figure you are talking $10k to do the client software from scratch. If you want it done this quarter in C++ by a name, say $200k. But no real cost analysis here. This was a long time ago, but I think I called my bank to see what sort of obstacles they would put up. As best I understood from a single conversation, there were no obstacles or fees. I suppose it might be relevant that there were personal relationships. For what it is worth this was a regional chain and if you want the name, email me.

Re:ACH (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221636)

I've worked with various Multicash/MT920/940 variants. It was many moons ago, but I seem to remember that they're pretty well documented.

Sometimes a bank also offers a simpler format - often a CSV. These are aimed at small/medium businesses between those that are big enough to run a beast like SAP or Oracle Financials and small ones that have so few transactions that they key them manually via the web or at an ATM. Normally the documentation for those formats are available to customers. I know because I did it once.

To be honest (and it's hardly unusual on "ask slashdot") I'm not quite sure what problem the OP is trying to solve. Does he work for a company that wants to automate its banking, or is he seeing some kind of opportunity to develop third party software? Is he trying to bypass the bank and get right into the SWIFT/ACH etc "backbone"? I believe it's possible for non-banks, but the bar is exceedingly high - good luck with that.

Re:ACH (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32224140)

ACH is amazingly complex but is the best option for bank transfers in the US. But you have to fulfill a dozen of requirements before being able to tap into it. As far as I remember they asked for a *huge* guarantee. Just think about this: once you can get into the NACHA you can transfer money from any account. That responsibility means that you have to be able to cope with any kind of liability of use of the system.

Ha! It's worse in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221570)

Scotiabank, the bank my company uses, actually REQUIRES you to use IE6 for their business banking website.

No, really:

https://www.scotiaconnect.scotiabank.com/sco-tp/browserdetect/browserInstruction.bns [scotiabank.com]

Actually, that's not 100% correct, they also accept IE5.5!

Re:Ha! It's worse in Canada (2, Funny)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221690)

Ironically in the security guide section it lists getting software updates as key to your computer's security.

Re:Ha! It's worse in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221740)

I'm using a Mac, so thanks for this information. If I ever switch bank, Scotiabank will not even be considered.

And if I ever switch OS, it's not going to be Windows either.

Use a swissbank (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221576)

Hi
just switch to a bank in switzerland

foreign countries - no problem
electronic transfer - no problem
APIs - no problem
black money :-) no problem. police comes afterwards
off shore banking ;-) no problem, all you need is a boat to get to the island

no really, we are keeping up to date with technology.

The swiss.

WRONG!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221664)

The Swiss just recently showed how quickly willing they are to suck the USA's dick when the Feds come demanding names.

Re:Use a swissbank (1, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221752)

all you need is a boat to get to the island

Not really. That %$@%$# bubble will catch you.

Re:Use a swissbank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222404)

True. Credit Suisse, ubs, zkb, postfinance, raiffeisen they all have an api to access banking data.

Banks providing ACH access (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221668)

many are free

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/714617/

Wired had an article about this... (2, Informative)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221710)

The Future of Money: It’s Flexible, Frictionless and (Almost) Free [wired.com] /

Basically from what I can tell it sounds like you're going to have to go with a startup type bank/payment service like Paypal which has actually made an effort to open its platform up.

I suspect most traditional banks won't change significantly for at least a few decades. My bet would be on ING and its brethren to open up first, try talking with them.

Re:Wired had an article about this... (1)

jordan314 (1052648) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222396)

Thanks for being one of the only posts to actually offer information instead of just rants. I've been wanting this type of access for a long time too. I had a small bank whose web access allowed you to temporarily subtract checks from your pending balance until they cleared. When I switched to Bank of America, I've wished for that feature ever since, and the only option I can think of is to use a greasemonkey script to do it. Bank of America also started charging me fees for not having direct deposit, which is difficult to obtain as a freelancer. I tried creating my own direct deposits with Paypal, but their AutoSweep service is not available for small individual customers, and their API does not include a hook for withdrawals. The problem with paypal too is that they charge so much for each transaction; I would have been charged for every transfer each month. In the end I opened up a second BofA checking account online, ordered new checks and a new debit card, and closed the old one. It was stupid that they made me jump through these hoops when it would have been cheaper for them just to remove the fees. Here's hoping for better access!

This isn't straightforward (4, Insightful)

Cederic (9623) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221720)

Five digit sums for remote access, per year? Hell, it'll cost half of that just for the security software licences, let alone administration overheads, hardware, networks... Corporate data exchange is not cheap, it's not easy and it's not something you throw together in a hurry for a bank relationship.

Most banks offer corporate customers the ability to manage their own accounts. This includes web or fat client deployment, download of files/reports (including transaction histories and balances) and submission of payment mandates.

Use the interfaces already provided, and shop around for the cheapest bank. Nobody offering the interface you want at the price you want? Deal with it.

Or start your own bank. You too can put up with the horrendous regulatory framework, the stunning liabilities resulting from membership of various payment schemes and the complexity of managing multiple payment mechanisms for multiple customers in a timely and (above all) accurate manner at lower cost than all of your competitors.

After all, you think everybody else is clearly doing it wrong. Go for it, show us how to be better.

Get me a widget! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221756)

What if someone wrote some infrastructure for maintaining a credit ratio with networks of others? Modeled after a credit union. You submit your credit items, which may be currency or barter-like items. Everything is valued in an internal points system which valuates each credit item. Items are available for trade between credit union members when both parties accept the balance of their offers and optionally a percentage of points are allocated from the transaction to be provided to a market member such as an income tax agent. The point being to allow a network of arbitrary individuals to self-organize and utilize their actual resources through credit union contracts. All trade contracts and manipulation of points are automated and secured using a method appropriate to the interface whether that be http or api-functions.

The reality of the situation. (5, Informative)

quietwalker (969769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221836)

Disclaimer: I write financial software for a living.

First, I don't see why OFX can't be used for that purpose. You could manage several hundred accounts, payroll, billpay, collections, wire transfers, funds management, etc. Not only that, it's two-way. It's not just displaying account data, it allows you to perform the actual transactions. I know of some payroll processing centers that use OFX for exactly this - either it goes to printer or it goes electronic.

Second, because there is no salable demand for individuals requesting the raw file formats for the backend transfers, those features don't exist. This is common sense - what motivation exists for a company to spend the time and effort providing a feature if there is no money attached to it.

Third, certification. There is quite a bit of hullabaloo in the banking industry about certification, and they're serious. See, there's not a lot of security in the banking world. They rely on hard connections, network separation, and effectively, trust. What they DO have though, is auditing trails. They might not be able to stop a fraudulent ATM transaction, but they can tell you every node, clearing house, third party processor or financial institution it went through. Certification is the thing that allows them to reasonably trust members in their transactional world - you can't just show up with homegrown software and hook right in.

Last, as you said, "The banking world is awash in data protocols". Lemme tell you something - the raw protocols are only about 1/20'th of what goes on. No protocol is perfect, and many systems have what you or I might consider 'undocumented features' that are handled by clever manipulation of the protocol (aka, hacks). The paper description, for example, of the ACH file format can be compressed into about 6 pages. There is a two volume set of books, each about 300 pages, of small print, so thin as to be nearly transparent pages that actually describes how those 8 pages work.

That's one protocol. There are dozens of major ones, and additional complexities when you add in feature specific cores or sinks (back end systems that banks use to store the actual data on, like those provided by MISER or Fiserv )- do you support overdraft protection, provide memo services (a hold against an account for an amount prior to it's actual processing), and if so, which of the dozen ways do you provide that information?

So in the end;
* no real financial benefit to providing that access (especially when you say you don't want to pay XD )
* no certification to provide that access
* actual software knowledge requires domain knowledge many magnitudes greater than just file formats, including per-FI non-public knowledge

last and not the least important items not discussed above;
* financial institutions are slow movers when it comes to adopting technology.
* early adopters are NEVER the small banks, and they always require a hefty ($$$$) reason to include it.

So it could be done - and probably will in the next 20 years or so - but not today. ...

as an aside,

The reason you'd be getting billed 5 figures for access is because they'd end up assigning someone to manually pull your ACH records out of each daily batch and save them to one side. Manually. They may even need to have someone actually type the new entries in (separation of networks, removable media would be disallowed - of course.)

River City Bank (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221864)

Small progressive smart banking. I work for a small developer that makes software that connects their system to accountants across the country.

Try to talk to Eric King, If you have a good idea for a service they could be offering, he'd be the one to talk to.

http://www.rivercitybankky.com [rivercitybankky.com]

outdated (1)

lacion (1812396) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221900)

my experience with US and Canadians banks has been awfull, old systems either trought manual input forms or absurd flatfiles. on the other hand my best experience has been with European banks, they all have some sort of webservice either soup or RESTful service where you can access all you can need to integrate with your systems. i hope in the future they adopt some kind of standart to work with their data, like the OpenTravel thats being used more and more this days and make integration with travel systems very straight fordware.

Hillarious ... (4, Informative)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221980)

I stopped reading after like 5 insightful/interesting posts.

Note to the Article poster: SWIFT is a bank to bank network. You will never get access to it as a non bank, and if you hack into it ... prey that no one figures it.

To the others pointing out why the OP never will find what he wants:

  • face it, the USA has a banking system that is not even worth considered to be a 3rd world banking system, it is far far below acceptable standards. But well, you all adapted to it and don't know anything else
  • I have myself not written any paper cheque or paper advice of payment since 15 or more years
  • some ppl say here in /. that it is to expensive for a bank to let small customers use electronic access. Thats wrong, the opposite is true.
  • Every payment advice or any other transaction that comes in electronically does the bank cost nothing, as it can be processed automatically.
  • Every paper that the bank receives needs to be processed more or less manually
  • In my country, the bank account fees are between $10 and $100 per year (for a company) and that includes quite a high amount of transactions and free internet and other electronic interaction.
  • private bank accounts usually cost nothing (as the banks hope you overdraw your account and pay interests)
  • my sports club is using a Java Application to debit all the member fees from the member accounts every month, quarter, or year ... for free.
  • one of my companies has the bank account linked to the tax accountant. All transactions on the companies bank account get logged to the book keeping system of the tax accounted ... guess what? FOR FREE

You ofc. can ignore all my "for free" claims above, as that is not for free but covert by the base yearly fees.

To the OP: try Pay Pall, they have an oen API to access them, no idea how useful that is for you or which applications exist to use it reasonable.

Regards,

angel'o'sphere

Re:Hillarious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32224204)

face it, the USA has a banking system that is not even worth considered to be a 3rd world banking system, it is far far below acceptable standards. But well, you all adapted to it and don't know anything else

This is absolutely correct, coming from someone working in a big international bank (and thus has to post anon due to satisfy the bank policy).

When I have to work with US colleagues, they have absolutely no idea about anything we do here, except for credit cards, for which they are also years behind us.

To the OP, using my bank's website (with 2-factor authentication using tokens), I can do practically anything short of physically taking out cash, e.g. transfer money, make bill payment, time-deposits, buying/selling stocks/trust funds, buying insurance, making insurance claims, apply credit cards/loans, etc.

And it all comes for free (i.e. no extra charge for internet access). In fact, from the bank's POV, servicing customers using the net cost them the least.

Re:Hillarious ... (1)

Matrix14 (135171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224396)

I live in the US and I can do most if not all of those things on my bank's website. However, this is not what the original poster was asking. They want an *API* to do this, so they can write their own code. This an is entirely separate issue.

What might this look like? (3, Interesting)

rjbrown99 (144423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222012)

I'll state at a high level that I work for a Credit Union, and there are a lot of us that believe in a model such as the one you are describing. Can I take this discussion in a slightly different direction? Rather than "where can I get this today", how about "what would you want from a service like this"? Reply with a list of features and describe the problem you are trying to solve.

Do you want to only access your own account, or offer a service to multiple customers of the financial institution?
Are you thinking along the lines of web services?
What type of transactions would you want - realtime (i.e. what's my account balance now) or batch (show me all transactions for the last 6 months)?
Are you talking about wire transfers, ACH, checks, etc?
Are you thinking a pull model, where you query into the data or a push model, where you are alerted when things happen?

Don't get dragged down in any pricing or cost at this point - just tell me in more detail what you want.

Re:What might this look like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223102)

I want a bank that uses the Internet to replace my branch:

I want to log in and instantly know how much money I have, while still being able to drill down into individual accounts to access the transaction history.

I want to be able to transfer money between my accounts quickly and easily, without fees or limits. I want to be able to pay bills on line, have checks cut and then mailed to me, I want to deposit checks by scanning them at home and I want to generate disposable credit card numbers for online purchases.

Re:What might this look like? (1)

rjbrown99 (144423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223332)

OK, but that's talking about a few things -

* A solid and modern online banking application
* Easily understood fee structures
* Home/mobile capture
* One time credit card purchasing

This is great from the perspective of a single 'end customer', but what I am getting at is more of an API that allows developers to tap in to certain types of information that might be stored at a financial institution. What type of APIs would be available, and what would be the use cases for each of them?

Swiss banks do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222102)

Various swiss banks offer this service. As far as I know even to small businesses and for a reasonable price. But they'll just let you get your own data in whatever format they have... getting a format you desire may cost more.

Rafal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222496)

http://www.parkwaybank.com/ gives my client the ability to download BAI files. For free.

Don't want to open an account just to put one post here.

Translation of the question (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222508)

Any suggestions for a 'developer-friendly' bank for small businesses?

Translates into honest english as

Any suggestions for a bank that will give me expensive features for free?

The cost of providing such access in a stable and secure way and all the support that goes into it has to be split up between the handful of customers that want this functionality.

Besides, I wonder what kind of information he want to extract that isn't provided in more regular formats. What interresting information does he expect to find?

FWIW, I have some experience with maintaining parsers/writers for the shitfest known as SWIFT.

Maybe contact Yodlee (1)

FormOfActionBanana (966779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222834)

Yodlee is a service that back-ends online banking applications and payment systems. Maybe they would sell you a development license or something...?

Does anyone actually want to do it? (2, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223130)

It seems that there is an opportunity here.

Put up or shut up. Does anyone actually want to *make* the geek friendly bank?

According to the almighty internet, we would need (depending on the state) about $5mil starting capital. About 10-20% of that comes directly from the founders, the rest can come from shareholders.

We would need some founders who have cash, some who have the knowledge and ability to implement the system, some who have the ability to *run* the system, some with the ability to negotiate the legal and procedural, and some with the ability to deal with personal interaction.

If a reasonable project plan were available, I could be one of the cash founders of the bank.

Anyone else?

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