Businesses using cloud accounting software have quickly come to accept that the banks and software companies hold their transactional data. While you can download transactions from your software no-one really does because you can’t do anything useful with them.
Now one of the bank feed aggregators in Australia has teamed up with a company that wants to give individuals control of their own banking, medical, social, fitness and other data. The Digi.me service provides a free, secure repository to each user who can then give access to companies seeking to buy or rent the data or provide services.
The UK-based company Digi.me has signed up SISS Data Services, which supplies bank feeds for Australian banks to QuickBooks Online, Sage One and Sage Handisoft, as well as a variety of fintechs.
Australian consumers will be able to easily download a personal and reusable copy of their bank account data through this partnership into a secure cloud library. They can then share slices of it in return for personalised services or offers.
If this takes off the implications are very interesting for cloud software companies that are hoping to clip the ticket on third-party services. Accounting software vendors including MYOB, Xero, and Intuit, and HR platforms such as Employment Hero and Zenefits, make some kind of revenue from lending, with insurance and other services likely to follow.
Will a similar model emerge for SMEs?
I asked a couple of questions about how the personalised data model works. The responses below are from Julian Ranger, chairman and founder of Digi.me, and Grant Augustin, CEO of SISS Data Services.
Digital First: You say that individuals holding their own data will have access to “transformational services”. What types of services can Australians expect?
Julian Ranger: Across all sectors it allows much greater personalisation across all domains (Finance, Health, etc.) while retaining privacy and security. The transformational services examples will include whole-of-life financial management (rather than a transactional approach), personalised healthcare/medicine at the major level, but also many new small services enabled by better data across types.
Digital First: What type of services exactly?
Ranger: Let us take Iceland as an example where we have been operating as a living lab for a while. Here we have implemented the world’s first patient-facing API which allows all citizens to get a copy of their health records. Then there are a number of apps that have been created to provide new services that could not exist before, for example a retinopathy application for diabetes sufferers.
Digi.me is less about disrupting services, and more about enabling new services based on access to ‘consented to’ personal data. The businesses that are disrupted though are the data brokers that accumulate personal data ‘behind the back’ of individuals and sell it on without consent. Going forward, new services provided by third parties building on the digi.me platform will enhance and disrupt businesses across the spectrum – there is definitely an advantage to be first in the new world of ‘customer centricity’.
Digital First: What are the first three services most likely to launch in Australia?
Julian Ranger: These will be in the fintech area using our partnership with SISS Data Services. Most likely are: improved credit for those with thin credit files; tailored offers relating to credit cards; and personal life finance management in device.
Digital First: What is the cost of the service? Who pays and how?
Julian Ranger: Key is that digi.me the company does not see, touch or hold data ever. The processing and data aggregation is undertaken at the user end. This means we can provide digi.me to individuals for free as there is no significant cost per user. Our business model is not to charge for data – we can’t as we don’t have it – but to charge businesses for the consent process. Each time a business asks for data from an individual we charge the business $0.10, with a maximum of $3 per person per year. Therefore businesses can get access to orders of magnitude of better consented data than previously, at orders of less magnitude cost.
Digital First: How does this digi.me affect SISS’ current bank feeds process?
Grant Augustin: SISS has developed a standardised and secure system and process for data feeds, that is tailored to each institution’s requirements and is fully compliant with all Australian regulatory requirements. To cater for the open banking functionality that will be provided to consumers via digi.me, we are making changes to the API at our end – which has no impact on the current bank feed process in place with Australian financial services providers. Digi.me will be one of the first to benefit from our soon-to-be-released Rest API for bank data.
Digital First: Which software currently uses SISS for feeds?
Augustin: SISS provide direct data to several of Australia’s leading and largest accounting software including QuickBooks Online (Intuit) and Sage One and Sage HandiSoft as well as over 30 fintechs and specialty software companies. Another 40 fintech startups are currently trialling SISS in our sandbox environment.
Digital First: How will this change the service or relationship between SISS and accounting software?
Grant Augustin: It will change our current relationships and services for the better, as we are excited about the future. Making data available in a safe, secure and efficient manner will drive further innovation that will benefit end consumers.
Digital First: When will this start?
Julian Ranger: Some bank data is available today and users can download digi.me today (and also get their social media and wellness data). The wider banking data from our partnership with SISS will be available in April this year.
Image credit: digi.me