Neobanking app Fi launched its ‘Connected Accounts’ feature to become one of the first fintechs to build a product on top of the RBI’s Account Aggregator (AA) framework. The feature allows users to link multiple bank accounts with Fi to get a comprehensive view of their finances on a single platform. The neobank was also among the first fintechs to get on the AA framework when it was launched in September 2021.
The move marks a major step towards the three-year-old fintech firm’s mission of simplifying finances for users. The general practice is to open a new bank account with each job change, or in the case of self-employed people, have multiple bank accounts for different needs. This leads to one's finances being split between multiple accounts and financial instruments, for things ranging from tax savings to discounts. This new feature solves this problem by enabling users to track their overall balance and expenditure on the Fi app, to begin with. Over time, users will be able to track their deposits and investments too.
Users of personal finance management tools usually have to trade security and privacy for ease and convenience. Most personal finance apps gather transaction data by reading one's SMSs - a questionable practice that is not always accurate. The system of scraping SMSs is based on the last SMS received, which may not always contain the latest account balance. Additionally, if a user changes their phone, there is no historical SMS data to provide updated financial information to users.
None of these are issues with ‘Connected Accounts’, as the data is sourced directly from the Account Aggregator network that banks are connected to Past transaction data is also available directly from the banks and can be presented to the user.
Data gathered from the AA framework is based on user consent. Banks can share a user’s financial data only if the user grants permission for it. The consent to share data is entirely in the user's hands and can be revoked at any time.
Connected Accounts will be particularly useful for iPhone users as it brings personal finance management tools like balance and expenditure tracking for the first time to iOS devices. Apple’s data privacy and security settings prohibit data collection methods like SMS scraping.
Commenting on the launch, Sumit Gwalani, co-founder of Fi, said, “After successfully launching mutual fund investments on Fi, we are glad to announce the role out of Connected Accounts. This is a huge step toward our goal of demystifying finances for our users, and towards becoming a one-stop solution for all things money. Balance and expenditure tracking across bank accounts is only the beginning. This feature will become the backbone for many features we will build on top of this to help users understand their money better.”
Fi has partnered with two RBI-licensed AAs, Finvu and Onemoney, to bring this new offering to users. The integration makes the entire process of linking multiple accounts on the Fi app a matter of minutes.
The new feature will strengthen other innovative features that Fi already offers to its users such as its Artificial intelligence-powered digital financial assistant Ask.Fi. Users will be able to search for transactions across accounts by simply typing 'Amazon orders this month’.
The usefulness of this feature is expected to only increase as more financial institutions join the AA framework. Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said that it will soon join the framework and allow customers to access information on their mutual fund and stock portfolios through financial service providers.
Earlier this month, Fi announced the launch of its Investments offering which included direct mutual fund schemes with 0% commission and ‘Fi Jump’, a peer-to-peer investment platform where users can earn up to 9% interest. Going forward, the fintech firm will venture into lending products that will be backed by data from Connected Accounts.