Customers cry foul as Nationwide withdraws OFX service

Customers cry foul as Nationwide withdraws OFX service

The UK's Nationwide Building Society has angered customers after withdrawing its OFX download facility, meaning users can no longer automatically update money management software and aggregator Web sites with their account information.

OFX (Open Financial Exchange) is a unified specification for the electronic exchange of financial data created by CheckFree, Intuit and Microsoft in the late 1990s.

Nationwide was the only UK bank to offer an OFX service that automatically updated money management software and Web sites.

The firm has now axed this, citing the demise of Microsoft's Money personal finance software. Microsoft has not introduced a new full UK release of Money since 2005 and no longer offers technical support for the product.

On its Web site, Nationwide says this means "We are increasingly finding that considerable resource is being directed to dealing with queries, but with no support from Microsoft, it is often not possible for us to resolve the problems customers have".

Customers now have to download statements as a .csv file from Nationwide's Internet Bank and convert it to an .OFX file to import it for use with Microsoft Money.

However, the OFX service was also used for importing account information to other third party money management software packages and Web sites like Wesabe. Nationwide says it has no plans to offer support for any money management program.

On the Wesabe site, users have reacted furiously to Nationwide's decision to pull the plug on the service.

One irate customer reacting to the news says: "I'm seriously considering changing banks despite being with them since I was 16."

Another writes: "I don't understand why a bank would do this. It is a giant step backwards."

A site dedicated to the issue has also been set up by a disgruntled user in a bid to publicise the issue and put pressure on Nationwide to reinstate the service.

Wesabe was launched in the US around four years ago and moved to the UK last November through a partnership with the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

In the US it offers a Web-services-based version of its money management platform for banks and credit unions. SpringBoard lets financial institutions offer their customers the range of money management tools and community features available on Wesabe through their own Web sites.

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