Banks and Automatic Transaction Importing
“I use X Bank. It is not on your list of supported banks, when will you support it?”
“I use Y Bank. It is on your list of supported banks, but I can’t connect.”
Let’s talk about banks for a bit.
Getting my transactions to automatically import was my biggest priority, and my greatest challenge when I developed this software.
There is only one company I know of that provides a service to aggregate bank transactions for you. 4 years ago it was too expensive to consider, I’m looking into it again at the moment. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
There is only one free method to connect to banks and pull in transactions. That is using OFX Direct Connect. OFX is an acronym for Open Financial Exchange. It is a standard for connecting to and communicating with banks.
Unfortunately there is not much documentation or information out there on how to make use of this technology standard. That is why it was such a challenge to develop initially.
Also, not every bank supports OFX. I assume that it is likewise a challenge for banks to develop and maintain an OFX server. I would also assume that most that do have probably outsourced it to a company that already has a solution they could implement.
The banks that do support OFX Direct Connect do not always share their OFX connection settings publicly. I get all mine from a free service called OFX Home.
To add to the frustration, some large banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc like to charge their customers $10.00 per month to use this feature.
Also, many banks require you to call and enable this feature — whether it is free or not.
I am fortunate to bank with a credit union (America First Credit Union) that supports OFX and supports it very well. It just works when you open an account. I also use American Express cards which gives free OFX Direct Connect access enabled as soon as you open an account.
I had a well known high interest savings account that I closed because they did not support OFX.
I will always be on the lookout for new technologies that provide better or easier ways to import transactions from banks. But in the past four years, nothing much has changed and so I’m not getting my hopes up.