I would venture to say that anyone who is reading this has heard of Mint, the wonderful web app to manage your whole financial life.
After a quick stint using Quicken, I discovered Mint, switched everything over, and never looked back. I guess that shows how good a decision Intuit made when they bought them, since I couldn’t of been the only one that jumped ship. With the constant stream of new features and improvements, not only on their site, but also their iPhone and Android apps, it would be pretty foolish to use anyone else in my opinion.
With the fawning over them finished, let’s move on to the problem I have with Mint, and really all applications like it: security. Whenever I add an account on Mint I of course need to supply my login information to the account, along with any security questions and answers. To me this feels…awful, I get that Mint prides themselves on security, but that doesn’t really make me feel any better having all of that information stored in one place that I have no control over.
Do I blame Mint on having to ask for all of my account credentials? No, of course not. The real problem is that banks do not make it simple or secure for Mint and other apps to collect the data they need to be useful. With the increasing complication of personal finances, more and more people will inevitably move to using Mint and its like, so banks should make it one of their top priorities to allow you to liberate your data.
My suggestion is this, banking institutions adopt some sort of authentication method which allows trusted applications to access a read-only data store that only contains: a times stamp, description, and amount . Something similar to how you can allow other apps access to your twitter account without having to give them your username and password. This would also solve the incredibly annoying problem of certain accounts randomly not being able to refresh because you once again have to enter in the answer to a security question.
Will this happen in my lifetime? Probably not, considering how notoriously resistant to change the financial industry is. I can dream though can’t I?