Barclays’ six million mobile banking customers can now view current accounts from up to seven other banks together on one screen, with the rollout of a new Open Banking feature.
From today, customers who have a personal or business current account with Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, RBS, NatWest, Nationwide or Santander can choose to securely view their other balances and transactions when they log into the Barclays mobile banking app, giving them a compete overview of their money at a glance.
The app uses Open Banking to securely access your information. Which? explains how it works and what you need to know.
- How do I connect my accounts in the Barclays app?
- Open banking apps: Barclays vs HSBC
- Is it safe to connect your accounts?
- What are the benefits of open banking?
How do I connect my accounts?
To set it up, you can select any of the seven banks that you want to connect within the Barclays app – you’ll then be redirected to their mobile apps or online banking pages, where you can sign in as you normally would and give permission to connect your account data.
Barclays has said that Open Banking technology ensures that your accounts are linked securely, and you can switch off access at any time.
More banks and extra features will be added later on, but for now it’s missing some key players (including HSBC, First Direct, M&S Bank, Tesco Bank, NS&I). It can also only connect current accounts, not savings accounts or mortgages.
Read the Which? guide: Open banking in detail
Open banking apps: Barclays vs HSBC
This move follows the release of the Connected Money app from HSBC back in May 2018, which also gives users a single view of all their accounts.
While HSBC launched a standalone app, Barclays has integrated this feature with its existing mobile banking platform.
The HSBC app is only available to customers with iPhones using iOS 10 and above, although HSBC told Which? Money that a pilot Android version is planned towards the end of this year. Otherwise it has the edge over Barclays in terms of coverage.
Connected Money can link up current, savings and mortgage accounts from up to 25 different banks – including Barclays – and includes various tools, such as a bills calendar showing upcoming payments.
An important difference, however, is the way that each bank is able to connect your accounts.
In the case of Barclays, it’s using industry-approved application programming interfaces (or APIs), which is the same technology that lets you book an Uber using Google Maps or sign in to online accounts using Facebook.
The nine largest banks and building societies were forced to publish these APIs after the Competitions Market Authority (CMA) found that the oldest, largest banks don’t have to work hard enough to win customers.
For now at least, HSBC is screen-scraping all data other than its own.
This requires you to share your login details (a username and password) so that it can access your other banks’ customer-facing online banking systems automatically, posing as you, to extract the relevant the data (your balance and recent transactions).
Is it safe to connect your accounts?
Open Banking, which is used by the Barclays app, lets you authorise access without having to reveal your login details to anyone other than your bank.
Sharing your data via APIs is more stable and more secure than screen-scraping because:
- the provider doesn’t need to store your login credentials (which could be leaked)
- you can be more selective about exactly what information is being shared and for how long
- you can more easily withdraw consent if you change your mind.
One snag is that while screen-scraping is being phased out, it still exists alongside open banking, potentially creating confusion as to which services are ‘secure’.
There is now a list of firms enrolled in open banking, all of which are regulated. But, some apps – including HSBC’s Connected Money app – will need to use a combination of open banking APIs and screen-scraping, depending on what data it needs to access.
As such, the onus is on you to check exactly what information any third party wants and how it plans to access it when you sign up for a new platform.
Read more about the potential risks to open banking in our guide.
What are the benefits of open banking?
Open banking promises to ‘bring the UK banking industry firmly into the 21st century’. Yet recent data suggests the public remains underwhelmed.
More than two thirds (69%) of the public told Which? they hadn’t heard of open banking in March 2018 (although this is down from 92% last year). Only 22% said they were likely to consider sharing their financial data, even if it meant that the products and services offered were more suited to them.
Open banking means that developers of mobile and web applications can ‘plug in’ to our current account data (and later, our credit card and digital wallet data) in a secure and standardised way, if we give them permission to do so. Broadly speaking, firms might offer:
- Account information services (AIS) which bring your various current accounts, credit cards and digital wallets together on one screen, or offer loans based on your bank account data.
- Payment initiation services (PIS) which transfer funds directly from your payment accounts, with your consent and authentication, as an alternative to using a debit card or PayPal.
Many of the benefits of open banking are still largely theoretical, but it could pave the way for money-management apps that monitor your balance and warn you if you are going overdrawn, or price comparison websites that recommend products based on your spending, such as a better credit card.