Personal Finance Management

Personal Finance Management tools have become headline news ever since launched. And thus I thought: “hrmph”.

Going against my belief of giving away important information, I decided to stop being a pessimist, and I signed up. I relented and let 22seven download some bank statements from my bank account (GASP), whilst warning SMS’s came to my cellphone from Nedbank.

Immediately after of course, I changed the PIN, and challenges. The bottom line these days is that if someone manages to add a fraudulent beneficiary, or make a one-time payment without some sort of cellphone challenge or you knowing — then your bank were muppets to start with.

FNB’s strategy of “readonly” credentials was a cunning plan, and all banks should implement that to allow access to 3rd party tools. It *is* my data after all … Hiding it behind a manual CSV painwall is not useful.

the 22seven experience:

Bottom line, 22seven is pretty decent and a useful tool. After some classification, and prodding, I got the thing to quite intelligently classify all my transactions. The search box on transaction text/references/classifications is something every bank site should have. The instant insight on just that basic bit of functionality is nifty.

For example: I can see exactly how much I’ve spent on my godaddy domains, insurance, paypal, or dining over the last few months — which I must say has been a bit of an eye opener. I’m definitely over-insured. And like they claim: even clever people do stupid things with their money. I’ll be saving a few grand from next month. I’ve never really looked at my insurance in the swathe of transactions the way 22seven presented it.

The infographics and other bits are a bit gimmicky, but can be helpful. The planning tool a bit basic, and the other tools are a bit too marketing-hype-invented to be truly useful.

Status: Beta, but slick.
Proposed cost after beta: R70 per month. Eek! Not sure if this price-point is going to make them win.
Pros: Works easily and intuitively, has an affinity with the “Apple” way.
Cons: Whole user interface in flash: #morefail | Too basic
Leetness: VERY: xss HTTP headers, and the intriguing: “Server: I serve, therefore I am” 🙂
Architecture:Everything is done in flash. They’re paying some flash guy too much money, and my guess is that additional functionality is going to take mega $ to implement.
Insider info: 22seven Pty Ltd, previously Friedshelf 1207 (Pty) Ltd is 21% held by Hollard Insurance

Where your data lives: Amazon EC2 Ireland.

the competition:

Yeah, so these guys don’t want you to divulge your PIN and secret sauce. Just upload CSV formatted bank statements, and they will figure out the rest.

From a functionality point of view, seems like they really do a lot more than the basic 22seven system. More complicated, better budgeting tools, etc etc.

Only problem is serious fail. Out of let’s say 10 statements I tried to upload, only three succeeded. The other uploads all promised that the “technical team has been notified and will look at the failure”.

Thanks for playing #fail Increase the size of your PHP upload limit, or temporary directory or whatever it is that is #failing.

Many of the sites’ options and text is totally contradictory, and worse than one would expect from a product in beta phase even. For example: helpful text such as “Once you’ve created an account, click on the account to add CSV files, categorize transactions and create rules and tags.” is irrelevant, because in reality clicking anywhere on account other than it’s small little name does nil, nada, zero.

There are of course large icons for deleting the account, and renaming. But just simply invoking the default action is non-obvious. Normal hints such as underlined links are disabled as well… This carries on thru-out the rest of the site. #uxfail guys. Hire someone.

Status: Seriously beta
Cost: Indeterminable.
Pros: Offers much more functionality. The “PC” edition of “Mac vs PC”.
Cons: Interface is fscked. Confusing. Ill layed-out.
Platform:Traditional Linux/Apache/PHP
Leetness:Not much, response headers are boring. Default PHP session id used. MoneySmart is a very forgettable name.
Architecture:Traditional PHP LAMP stack. This thing will adapt quickly to changes.
Insider info:Application for judgement in the high court ? “47 JSE Limited vs BSAVI Financial Services (Pty) Ltd 13162/11 & 3 other – Interdict (Interdik)”
Where your data lives: Dubious cloud hosting in Amsterdam.


Both services are beta, and both services have a long way to go. 22seven is a bit of an “Apple ™” — slick, but I don’t think it will last. It is after all, just a shell around Yodlee’s platform.

Moneysmart — will probably sell out its IP to a bank and be useful some day as an auxilliary to their current internet banking offering. In the interim, if they can scrape bank websites, I’d use it in a flash. Hint. Go market yourselves to every bank moneysmart…


How little corporate information is available on either websites. No PAIA manuals. No company VAT, or registration information (other than deeply hidden inside their policies, and t&c’s)

I’m pretty sure this doesn’t help me to trust any of these guys. Legislatively where do these services fall ? Plain web services? Financial service providers ?

what I really want:

is for my bank to implement this stuff, as part of their online offer.

These services in general, is actually just what every damn bank in South Africa should create as part of the standard online banking experience. What am I paying those online banking fees for in any case ? The same crap for 8 years ?

It’s not rocket science. And why should my banking data have to go to Europe to be analyzed by some third party ? Why can’t my bank offer me this service ?

Hey, shit. Maybe I’ve just devised a cunning plan ? #devs_rebuilding_22seven_for_local_banks ? Oh bugger.

I accidentally a #hashtag and #web_omg_make_$$$

Author: roelf on April 11, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
2 responses to “Personal Finance Management”
  1. Good read! FNB have launched their “Instant Accounting” running on top of a platform by

    Does categorization and is obviously quite tightly integrated with their banking systems.

    Might be worth a look for you.

  2. roelf says:

    Hmm, Luminous, Hasso Plattner and Accenture all seem to ring a bell.

    Pity FNB is the only bank once again taking any kind of action.

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