Want to see every penny you earn – or owe – at the push of a button? There’s an app for that – and with the launch of Open Banking on Saturday, it’s likely to be simpler than ever.
In today’s financial market, you might have a current account with one provider, an Isa with another, a credit card with a third, and a mortgage from your local building society – not to mention a prepaid card for every day purchases. Keeping track of your finances across providers can be difficult, but that might be about to change.
Which? rounds up the apps giving you oversight over your money, and how Open Banking is likely to impact your budgeting.
Apps for budgeting in 2018
If you want to get a handle on your money in 2018, these apps offer oversight over everything you earn, owe or spend in a single place.
The below apps are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and plan to join the Open Banking directory.
- Find more: how Open Banking will affect your financial data
HSBC Beta app
HSBC is one of the first high-street banks to launch a fully-integrated app that allows you to track accounts from 21 different providers.
You can add details of your current accounts, savings products, credit cards, personal loans and mortgages from participating lenders or banks, provided they are visible via online banking.
The app also provides you with a ‘safe balance’ which shows you how much disposable income you have until next pay day, minus any upcoming bills. If you set ‘savings rules’, the app will round-up amounts you spend and contribute the excess to your savings.
You can also analyse how you’re spending your money, and get insights from its ‘Digital Coach’ tool.
Currently, the app is being trialled with 10,000 HSBC customers, but the bank expects to roll-it more widely by the end of the first quarter in 2018.
- Find out more: How to plan an effective budget
Similarly to the HSBC Beta app, Money Hub brings together your bank accounts, credit cards, savings and borrowings in one place – and you can also add investment funds.
The app allows you to set spending goals and analyses your spending so you can see where your money goes. It’ll also give you a nudge if a payment is due, or alert you to the availability of a better deal on one of your products.
If you’d like professional advice, Money Hub also has a ‘Find Advisers’ option which will connect you with an adviser – and if you consent, automatically share the data you’ve connected to the app.
The product costs £0.99 per month, or £9.99 if you take out an annual subscription (or £14.99 from the App Store).
Money Dashboard brings together your ‘accounts and assets’ on a central dashboard, including current accounts, credit cards and savings accounts.
The app lets you analyse your incomings and outgoings, see where your money is being spent, and understand how much progress you’ve made towards your goals. Each month, you can use the budget planner to set your limits, based on previous months’ spending.
The platform currently supports 59 providers, including the major high-street banks. It’s currently free to use from the app store.
Yolt gives you oversight of your current and savings accounts, plus credit cards, on a single interface. It sends you insights into how you’re spending your money and what your major expenses are.
The platform allows you to manage your bills and subscriptions – you can see what’s owing, how much you’ve paid previously, and any linked transactions. If you’re looking for a better deal, it also offers a comparison service.
As part of Dutch Bank ING, Yolt is licensed by the Dutch Central Bank (DNB), a scheme recognised by the FCA. The app is available for free in the App Store or Play Store.
Bud and First Direct
Bud is a financial services platform that connects your accounts and credit cards, but also adds rewards schemes, investment funds, insurance policies, currency exchange services and a digital mortgage broker.
Currently, Bud is not available for download, so you’ll need to join a waiting list.
The company recently announced it was partnering with First Direct to produce a financial management app. Around 2,000 First Direct customers will participate in the initial trial from December through to mid-2018.
- Find out more: Best high-interest current accounts – how to find the best one
Bean – awaiting FCA approval
Bean also allows you to connect your bank accounts and credit cards, so you have oversight on a single screen. But you can also add your subscriptions, like Netflix, Spotify or Sky, or any recurring bills, such as from your energy provider.
If your subscriptions change, Bean will send you an alert – and will also cancel or switch on your behalf.
It’s currently available as a website but plans to launch an app within the coming months.
Bean has applied to register with the FCA. It told Which? it expects to be registered by next week – but check the registry to be sure.
- Find out more: Compare and switch your energy supplier
Sharing your data with Open Banking
Currently, in order to share financial information with an app, you need to provide the log-in details of your account . But this may be set to change.
From 13 January, UK financial institutions will adopt a new framework called Open Banking. Under these rules, banks will be obliged to provide your data to third parties in a standardised format (known as an ‘open API’).
You’ll need to give your permission for the bank to share your data, so they’ll only do it with your consent.
Apps who want to access your data via an open API must be registered with the FCA, and join the Open Banking Directory. So you can check the Financial Services Register to see if the app you’re using is regulated.
All the above services have FCA approval or equivalent (apart from Bean) and intend to join the Open Banking Directory as a way of sharing your data.
But at the moment Open Banking is just limited to current accounts. This means you may still need to share your log-in details for any other types of financial products.
- Find more: Open Banking – everything you need to know
Screen-scraping vs Open Banking
When you share your log-in details, the app uses these to access your accounts on your behalf – a process known as ‘screen-scraping.’ Essentially, the app poses as you to see your information.
This may open you up to liability if money goes missing, and may violate the bank’s terms of service. The bank is not necessarily obliged to return your money if you’ve given a third party provider your log-in details.
Sharing your login data can also leave you vulnerable to malicious actors, posing as legitimate firms to get at your sensitive information.
Under Open Banking, you’ll have more protections if unauthorised payments are made, even if they were initiated by a third-party provider. If you make a claim, the bank must refund you immediately unless it suspects fraud or negligence on your part.
Banks will also have the power to chase up third-party providers for payment.
There could still be risks, for example, if the app is targeted by cyber-criminals who are then able to access your data.
Which? is working closely with regulators to make sure financial and data regulators are safeguarding consumers and building trust in these services.
For the foreseeable future, most budgeting apps will use a combination of scraping and Open Banking to provide you a full picture of your finances – so make sure you fully understand what information you’re sharing and with whom.
If you want to make a complaint about a provider, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.