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Ask HN: Founders (and CFO's) – what do you wish your bank did better?
11 points by krel 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments
What are your main issues dealing with your company bank, and what do you wish they did better?

To give some context: We're now trying to set up a company bank account and it's a terrible experience. As a user, you feel ignored in a way that reminds me of how most enterprise software companies acted 10+ years ago.

I want to know if this is an outlier or the tip of the iceberg and the experience just gets worse from here.

(Please state if you're located in Europe. Thanks!)

I'm located in Europe. I wrote about this here in the wider context of accounting: https://bjoernkw.com/2016/04/03/accounting-in-2016/

Not much has changed since then. I still can't have my accounting software automatically import bank statements from my business account. I need to manually log in to the online banking app, download a CSV export file, convert that to an MT940 file (using https://github.com/msc01/soacsv2mt940 ) and finally import that into my accounting software.

So, my main issue is with APIs and data availability - or rather lack thereof.

This seems to be true in the US as well. Getting exports is a pain, in fact I think during our first finance audit, we had trouble getting monthly exports past a certain date. I know for a fact that our current bank doesn't work with our expensing software, so that has to be done manually

> we had trouble getting monthly exports past a certain date

Same here. Quite frankly, I think this is outrageous. Every ordinary company has to keep accounting records for a certain number of years (10 years in Germany, where I'm located). Banks, however, apparently get away with what essentially amounts to throwing away records after 6 months or so.

Yeah, that is pretty wild.

Bjoern, I saw you're located in Germany — does any of the neobanks help you solve this? I guess switching bank don't solve the problem of getting your old data though, even if it would make it easier to get hold of _future_ records.

No, unfortunately not.

Last time I checked more thoroughly and based on admittedly rather cursory research right now neobanks such as Holvi, N26 or Fyrst either a.) provide a fully integrated accounting software and no API / data exchange at all, b.) only integrate with specific accounting software products such as lexoffice, or c.) only allow you to export CSV files.

They seem even more like walled gardens than traditional banks.

While I described MT940 as the "WTF of file formats" at least it's some sort of loosely agreed upon standard, as is HBCI. Both of these formats / protocols are dated and cumbersome to work with but they at least allow you to access and exchange data in an automated fashion. None of the neobank products seem to support those and there's no modern, easier-to-use alternative protocol either, none that I know of at least.

Furthermore, some of those neobanks have had a reputation of summarily closing customer accounts that didn't fit their business model anymore. That makes them way too erratic and unreliable for running a business.

Right, interesting.

Regarding closing down accounts — I recently made a detour into the Revolut subreddit and it's filled mostly with people gushing about their accounts being shut down without notice.

Now, I never know how much of that is on the company and how much is on the user doing something shady, but regardless, I would not dare to take such chances with my business.

Thanks for pointing that out — had not connected the dots until now.

Given you're in Europe, are you seeing any change from PSD2? New service providers offering the service you outline?

PSD2 background: https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/12668/psd2---what-chang...

The main difference customers are seeing due to PSD2 is revised 2FA for online banking apps, which for the most part is good because the new measures arguably are more secure.

However, in terms of data access they create another obstacle because while previously you could at least do screen scraping for automatically retrieving data that option is no longer available either because a human being has to interact with the bank-issued 2FA device / mobile app.

The bank I use actually provides an API now: https://developer.commerzbank.com/en

I'll have to delve further into the documentation to see if it suits my needs.

Thanks for pointing that out. Maybe, there's hope yet after all :-)

So what I take from your post and comment is that the issue is based on your needs and the bank you chose. Where is the disconnect between both sides?

In the state of California I've setup a few business checking accounts, all through Chase. Primarily LLC's and or Corps. Zero issues simply by bringing required items listed on their website. On average ~30 minutes to setup checking account - and I have checks in hand with a debit card being sent.

Suggest could you start the conversation by saying more about your own experiences and requirements?

Sure, I didn't want to make the whole topic around my narrow use case but good idea.

Right now, I'm still unable to open an account in the bank I choose. So my current needs are just to be able to open an account within ~48h or so. My application was flagged for reasons still unknown and its now almost 4 weeks since I applied.

Once set up, my current requirements are pretty basic — I need an account where I can put funds from VC/angel, ideally split up in a checking and savings account, with the possibility of creating additional accounts for specific needs. Making payments should be easy and relatively cheap.

Down the road, I'd love if the bank could give me a clear overview of runway and projections, integrations with accounting software, etc. And be able to easily pull from the bank all the data they have on my company.

And the bank should scale with my needs — I rather not sign up for a "freelancer" neobank and be forced to switch as soon as my needs go beyond that.

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