22Seven Launches with some controversy

2012 January 31
by Zaheer Cassim

Last week, South Africans got the first look at 22seven, a service that links up to your website and provides you with information on your spending habits. For R70 a month, after the initial trial free period, this website analyzes your bank account and tells you where you spending your money on in an easy to read format i.e. a pie chart with colourful balloons. Big balloon equals lots of money.

It’s a fun way to look at how you spend your cash and according to the founder of the company Christo Davel, it puts you in control of your finances.

HOWEVER …

With the launch of the site, big banks turned out to not so in favour of the program saying that it’s a risk to your banking security by using it. Absa, FNB, the South African Banking Risk Association, and even the the South African police warned users that it’s not their responsibility if your money goes missing. But that’s a smart move, it protects the banks if something does happen.

Absa issued a statement

It is absolutely imperative that Absa customers, and in fact customers of all banks, never divulge their sensitive personal information, such as PIN numbers, passwords and one-time passwords, to any parties – via websites, phishing emails, phone calls, SMSes or any other means.

 

Disclosing one’s sensitive information renders the customer completely liable for any losses that may occur due to phishing or other online fraud, as per Absa’s online banking terms and conditions disallowing customers from divulging their sensitive information to any third party.

 

Aside from these serious security concerns, customers should also note that forthcoming redevelopments to Absa’s online banking platform, set for release later in 2012, will include a variety of personal financial management (PFM) tools. These tools will enable our customers to consolidate information from various institutions, budget more effectively, create a visual dashboard view of their personal finances, and much more.

 

This rich array of personal financial management services will be integrated within the secure environment of Absa’s online banking interface, removing any of the security concerns present in third party PFM tools like 22seven.

 

This will be provided to our customers at no additional charge to the regular monthly subscription fee. 22seven charges R70 per month, on top of one’s existing online banking monthly subscription or bundled product fees.

 

Sites like 22seven conflict with the clear fraud awareness messaging sent out by all major banks, as well as the South African Banking Risk Association and the South African Police Force.

22seven could have involved the banks, though for some reason they did not. Possibly due to the fact that some banks were already building services like this, or the fear that they would have copied the idea.

Another option would have been for them to have built the service as a ‘whitebox’ solution, that could be integrated into an existing banks website.

The jury is still out on twitter. Some people are going to wait,while other are jumping in. Check out #22seven for yourself.

Personally, I am going to wait a bit until all the site is out of its beta stage and they’ve sorted out all the kinks. I am also not a fan of the monthly R70 subscription fee, I know it’s not a lot – three cappuccinos at Vida, but I am to use to the web being for fee.

On the upside, 22seven is using another company, Yodlee to do the interacting with the bank accounts. Yodlee has been around for more than 10 years and there hasn’t been too many complaints about this program.

Let us know what you think at http://www.facebook.com/startupafrica or in the comments below.

 

 

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