Despite a prior resistance to sharing banking data for reasons that included overloading the data servers, Wells Fargo recently announced that it has created an API to make business bank account data available in accounting software Xero. According to a recent article by Penny Crosman for American Banker, the turnaround comes in response to the continued use of screen scraping to access bank data.
"We are on a mission to help lead the financial industry beyond screen scraping," said Brett Pitts, head of digital for Wells Fargo Virtual Channels. "It's not as robust as what we need from a security perspective.”
These security concerns are largely founded on the fact that consumers are giving out their online banking username and password to third parties to access accounts and perform the scraping. Several prominent banks are currently attempting to reduce the risk of financial data aggregation through the use of OAuth, as Wells Fargo is doing with Xero to leverage its commitment to the API concept.
The integration is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, and small business customers will be given the opportunity connect their accounts to Xero. Transactions and balances will automatically be loaded into Xero, so customers will be able to access up-to-date balances for better financial visibility without exposing themselves to the vulnerabilities of scraping.
This marks the first time Wells Fargo is exposing an API to anyone other than a commercial client, so it marks a big step forward for the open banking ideal.