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Crawl Bank Accounts with the Ghost of Wesabe (readwriteweb.com)
116 points by abraham on Feb 26, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

screen scraping should only really be needed for banks that don't support direct OFX access (or i suppose if your bank charges extra for direct access and you don't want to pay it).

OFX is an XML'ish protocol that all of the big banks and major banking software (MS Money, Quicken, Quickbooks, iBank, etc.) use to communicate when downloading transactions, posting checks, doing transfers, etc. it's what i'm using for downloading bank transactions in corduroy (http://corduroysite.com/) and i have hundreds of banks listed in there.

if you know a bank's OFX URL, you can just send it an OFX query and download transactions. it works the same for every bank and credit card company, and it's much quicker than the screen-scraping dance of establishing a session, logging in, clicking around, and then updating your scripts every time the website updates its interface.

here are some common OFX servers: http://wiki.gnucash.org/wiki/OFX_Direct_Connect_Bank_Setting...

Someone here on HN who works in the industry mentioned OFX is notoriously unreliable.

Does it work for bill paying? Cable, water, gas and electric, mortgage companies? I think it would be awesome for have a way to pay all my bills from one interface.

Most banks and credit unions have a (free) electronic bill pay integrated into their online banking that allow you to pay bills to the kinds of companies that you listed. The bank typically figures out whether to send them a physical check, or handle it electronically.

Man, just a simple twitter bot that hit me when a transaction was over a certain amount, or perhaps over a certain distance away from home, would be awesome.

This kind of feature is common in most banks that I have seen. Although instead of Twitter, its email and SMS.

Sure, my bank does it too. Finer-grained alerting could be useful, or possibly aggregate tracking ("You've spent more than $50 at Starbucks this month!"). Location awareness would be the most useful fraud prevention tool.

Keep in mind you're only liable for the first $50 in fraud on a credit card. In practice most US institutions will cover 100% of credit or electronic banking losses.

On the flip side, any SAAS that monitored your bank transactions would likely be more interested in developing and selling a profile of you than protecting you.

My idea was that the private,non-SAAS tool could track your total purchases on a particular category (food, gas, restaurants), or even a specific store, and inform you when you are blowing your budget. ("Hey, that latte put you over for the month. Better cut back").

Awesome. I'm at a startup now that could totally leverage this tech. Thanks!

Does anyone know if something like this is available for Australian banks?

I'd love to automate telegraphic transfer payments ("wiring" the money). Just need to poll for when the money arrives, and send out the receipt. Currently, you have to check manually.

That said, telegraphic transfer payments often to involve a fair bit of rigmarole, including negotiating prices, and even contractual terms in some cases. So maybe automating that bit wouldn't make much difference. Still, it would be great.

mint.com equivalent in Australia: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1154397


Half of me says awesome, while the other half is slightly-creeped-out that scammers no longer need to stop at "nah, writing scraping scripts for bank websites would be way too much work!".

Any support for UK banks? Specifically, LLoydsTSB, whose online interface is truly horrible... (and broken to boot)

According to this link, LLoydsTSB is in QIF format:


A number of other UK banks there too.

Yeah. Their export functionality requires logging out and in between reports (apparently a "known bug" to be fixed in the "next release" which doesn't have a set date to it). I was hoping there's a way to just point something at Lloyds and have it suck out all the data for browsing outside of the "LloydsTSB experience"...

Well you can try your hand at screen scraping your account using the Wesabe script. Better than nothing. I've got a Bank of Ireland account and their online banking is crap also. They don't even have an export function, let alone a buggy one!

Awesome, was just getting ready to send in the yodlee NDA

you'll still need to send it. depending on the users you're supporting, and how, yodlee supports the long tail (some better, some worse), which would be difficult to support in a model like this.

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