Wells Fargo, Intuit reach milestone in secure data sharing
A new tech deal between Wells Fargo and Intuit is being welcomed as a big step forward for consumers and the financial services industry.
Wells Fargo customer Kayla Dryden has always found Intuit Inc.’s Mint website a good “one-stop shop” for managing her family’s finances, but she never really liked having to type in her bank account username and password in order to use the service.
Now, Wells Fargo and Intuit are creating a streamlined way for their mutual customers to use some of Intuit’s most popular applications — through a data-sharing technology that industry analysts say is a big step forward for the financial services industry.
When it is launched later this year, the new technology will allow customers to log in to Mint, TurboTax Online, or QuickBooks Online; seamlessly connect to their Wells Fargo accounts; and designate the transaction data they want to feed into the software applications.
Dryden said she will welcome the change.
“It really sounds better and more convenient,” said the Wells Fargo credit analytics specialist in Bloomington, Minnesota. “I wish every financial institution would follow their lead on this and set up the same thing.”
The companies announced the technology development agreement on Feb. 3.
“We’re excited to work with Intuit on transforming the data-sharing process,” said Brett Pitts, Wells Fargo Virtual Channels digital channel executive. “This agreement creates a much better experience for our shared customers and gives them greater control over their financial data. Furthermore, it creates a more efficient and reliable process of sharing data.”
‘Easy, seamless, and secure’
Wells Fargo is making the secure data sharing possible through a digital platform called Wells Fargo Gateway — an Application Programming Interface channel or API — which allows users to integrate their data into their Intuit experience. Through this process, customers can designate the specific accounts they want to connect to the Intuit applications. Watch this two-minute video about API technology.
“This is a great move on the part of Wells Fargo and Intuit,” said Dan Latimore, a digital banking expert and senior vice president of Celent research and consulting firm. “It shows that the customers’ interests are being put first, in terms of making it as easy, seamless, and secure as possible to access their data without having to share their password every time. For the financial services industry overall, this is a great harbinger of things to come.”
Latimore noted the Intuit agreement is the second such move by Wells Fargo. In 2016, the company agreed to work with the Xero accounting software firm to develop an API that would allow Wells Fargo’s small business customers to securely transmit their transaction data to Xero’s cloud-based applications.
“This whole notion of Wells Fargo making their financial services accessible through API technology is absolutely a step in the right direction,” he said. “This trend is really in the beginning stages and will only become more prevalent as more deals are made and connections established. Ultimately, the goal should be getting to a point where these APIs are as open and simple as possible for customers to use.”
Growth in secure interface technology will also increase the appeal to investors, who will be able to conveniently manage multiple retirement and investment accounts, said Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities.
“The ability to easily aggregate financial positions has become increasingly important, not only to younger, tech-savvy customers, but also to baby boomers that have accumulated numerous accounts through various jobs and investments,” he said. “Security is of the utmost importance to consumers and having a secure way to consolidate accounts will likely open up these time-saving apps to even more consumers.”
The development of these APIs allows banks like Wells Fargo to streamline the process by which their customers provide fintech companies, personal finance management apps, and others the ability to access their data.
“The Wells Fargo-Intuit agreement represents a positive step toward banks and companies like Intuit working together to improve the experience of consumers,” said Jason Kratovil, vice president of government affairs for payments at the Financial Services Roundtable, an industry advocacy and research group. “It is another clear indication that the market is resolving the many important issues such as security, transparency, and privacy that surround third-party access to financial data.
“We believe the future should and will include more agreements like this one,” he added.