Online banking is about to undergo a generational shift, says Yodlee CEO

If you use online banking, chances are good that you see the same things in your account that I see when I log into mine (albeit with different numbers): a lot of transaction data, and maybe some basic budgeting tools or low-level personalization.

But over the next few months, many of the United States' top ten largest banks will replace their current online banking experience with something more akin to an app store model, where customers are presented financial apps to make their banking experience more personal and more effective.

Financial services company Yodlee, who provides some level of online banking functionality to 80% of the nation's largest banks, tells us that online banking is sitting right on the edge of a big generational shift.

"Online banking began mostly as data aggregation where you could view transaction data across multiple financial institutions from within the portal of your main bank," Yodlee President and CEO Anil Arora told Betanews. "But data aggregation has slowly evolved into personal finance, and personal finance is now evolving more and more into these kind of purpose-built financial apps."

The average U.S. consumer has 12 financial accounts across 6-7 different banks, and Arora says 80-90% of Yodlee's 28 million customers have said they want to actively do budgeting and bill paying and mortgaging and such online, but only 5% actually do it because it's not easy enough. So it has created an open platform for web-based financial apps that let banks offer their customers easier ways to handle their money.

These apps integrate analysis and action in four general categories: payments, bill pay, funds transfer, and offers, and include applications for budgeting, expense management, financial planning, investment planning, tax preparation, mortgage calculation, charitable giving, peer-to-peer and bank-to-bank funds transfers.

Interestingly, banks haven't gravitated to these solutions simply because they make the experience easier for the customer. They also turn the bank into a more positive force on the customer's habits.

"I think banks are really struggling right now with who they want to be: What is their brand? What is their benefit to consumers?" Arora said. "For decades, banks have sat there and said they are our trusted financial partner. Suffice to say, with everything that's happened over the last few years, a lot of that brand trust has been lost. They're viewed as fee sharks, and not really trusted advisors with the consumer's financial well-being in mind."

The big trend, Arora said, is that banks have taken a step back and begun to re-evaluate their role in their customer's life.

"They're saying 'Look, we'd better get our act together and get back to being the trusted financial advisor,' and the way to do that is through gestures like helping people manage their personal finances, so they're taking these kind of plug-and-play financial tools, and they're putting them more and more prominently on the homepage," Arora concluded. "They're quite literally making that your homepage experience. You're going to see many of the top ten banks doing that in the next few months."

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