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Automated personal financial algorithms

Sophisticated instructions for financial transactions.
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If you have two bank accounts, even with the same bank, with a direct debit going out once a month, if you go over your limit it doesn't get paid even if there's enough dosh in the other account.

This could be avoided were it possible to issue some kind of algorithm which would allow more flexibility, such as "If balance_a > x then pay creditor from account_a else pay creditor from account_b" or "While interest_rate < monthly_debit; monthly_debit = zero; wend" or something like that.

Administer this by some kind of secondary legal organisation which has permission to move money between your accounts, but works automatically.

This will of course never happen.

nineteenthly, May 08 2010

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       I think I've seen a commercial for a new phone app that alerts you to overdraws and lets you transfer money between accounts remotely.   

       This ought to be possible via a solicitor though it'd be so expensive and open to embezzlement that it wouldn't be sensible.
nineteenthly, May 08 2010
  

       I think it *will* happen, in fact. There will be an initial surge of enthusiasm, as a new cohort discovers the joy of computer programming -- and then, shortly afterwards, the agony of debugging. "Afterwards" being after their custom algorithms obliterate their retirement savings.
mouseposture, May 08 2010
  

       Regarding amateur programming, i also envisaged a number of reliable options being available to customers of a particular bank but able to plug into other accounts. Or there could be a sandbox involving micropayments.   

       Something like this must exist on a larger scale on stockmarkets, surely?
nineteenthly, May 08 2010
  

       For the "sandbox," I think a better idea would be a "parallel universe" system, which didn't restrict the size of payments, but created a set of duplicate, imaginary accounts, then turned your algorithm loose on them. Later on, if nothing had gone seriously wrong with your imaginary finances, you could start applying the algorithm to your real ones. This is, as I think you point out, a well- known stock-investment game.   

       The whole "sandbox" idea is bad, though, as it relies on the caution of the user, who, unless a programmer, probably under-appreciates the potential for bugs. Also, people who see their imaginary balances growing faster than their real ones will be tempted to terminate the experiment prematurely.   

       The "standard reliable options" idea is better -- but it's shading off into "widely known to exist" territory.   

       Of course this all presupposes that people ought to be protected from their own mistakes. Some people would disagree. According to that view, it makes sense for banks to offer products which encourage customers' mistakes if those benefit the bank at the customers' expense. Another example would be: lending to those unlikely to be able to pay off the capital.
mouseposture, May 08 2010
  

       Come to think of it, a game would indeed seem to be a better way of practicing.   

       Not sure what i think about protecting people from their mistakes. I suppose it becomes a bigger problem when they have dependents.
nineteenthly, May 09 2010
  

       This is baked. My bank offers automatic overdraft coverage of my checking account from my savings, Hypothetically I could even link my business expense account and my savings but that would be a breech of corporate veil. There is also a small per transfer fee.
WcW, May 09 2010
  

       [WcW], that was an example. There could be other applications, for instance an investing system which decrements the sum paid if share values go down and pays the remainder into another account or increments it when they go up, or even invests randomly.
nineteenthly, May 09 2010
  

       There is a precedent here with the accounts that floated in the UK a few years ago where your mortgage, savings and current accounts are all considered a single entity (at least in terms of calculating your mortgage payments)   

       It's like having a massive overdraft secured against your house, so as long as your direct debits are not significant in relation to that, they should be honoured no-matter what you have in the account.
zen_tom, May 10 2010
  

       [zen] Yes - similar to that. I suppose the novel element to this idea is the ability to add scripts to your bank account to automate certain behaviours. If banks allowed this, the scripting interface would become the number one target for the authors of viruses and phishing attacks.
hippo, May 10 2010
  

       It would, yes. However, that doesn't seem less secure than having access to one's account via the internet to me.   

       Also, i'm not saying it would be the banks doing this necessarily so much as another agency. Even if the facility went together with a bank account, it needn't be provided by the bank itself.
nineteenthly, May 10 2010
  

       On the surface - this is a great idea. However, I have this little niggle in the back of my head** that there is scope for logical paradoxes or the customer being penalised in some error in jiggery-pokery.   

       (** to be fair, that's probably something [8th]'s done)
Jinbish, May 10 2010
  
      
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