OFX develops standards for safer aggregation

OFX develops standards for safer aggregation

The OFX Consortium is seeking comment on a new approach to financial account aggregation that would remove the need for sensitive financial information, such as passwords, to be stored on aggregators' systems.

The Consortium, which is typically involved in the development of standards for downloading bank data to popular personal finance programs such as Intuit's Quicken and Microsoft Money, is working to standardise the way financial transactions are transmitted over the Internet.

The proposal takes a new approach to aggregating customer data by extending the widely used Open Financial Exchange (OFX) specification in ways that allow aggregators to receive account data for large numbers of users.

The proposal was developed by the Open Financial Exchange Aggregation Services Working Group over the past 12 months with input from Business Logic, Fidelity Investments, Teknowledge, Intuit, Parsam Technologies, Citigroup and Microsoft.

This extension to OFX provides ways to meet data exchange standards as defined in Bits Voluntary Guidelines for Aggregation Services, Version 2.0, published in January 2004. Similar guidelines have been promoted in the UK by umbrella payments body Apacs.

The security issues involved in the management of personal financial information has been seen as a stumbling block to the wider uptake of account aggregation services in the UK, as the bigger banks have shied away from the service.

Michael Grancolas, chief architect, Citibanking Technology Solutions Group, says the bank strongly supported the effort because of the capability it gives for extending OFX use within and beyond the enterprise. "Citigroup has been an industry leader in offering aggregation services for our customers and early on recognised a need for a better data exchange methodology," he says.

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