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Fund Transfer Standard

Standard EFT interface for the end user
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(+3, -1)
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Many banks will now accept fund transfer instructions online. The problem is that each bank has its own proprietory system, and that many of these are based around web pages and/or java applets, and each is different from the next. This situation makes for a confusing plethora of interfaces for the user who has several bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.

I suggest that some standardisation is required. At a basic level, the standard should support balance enquiry, transfer instruction (giving destination details) and transaction log. All types of account (bank accounts, credit cards, utility bill accounts, etc) should support the interface, although some types (eg utility accounts) may forbid transfer requests, and others may provide extended facilities, such as interest rate enquiries and foreign currency conversions.

Needless to say, all protocol messages would be encrypted and signed by the account holder.

Such a standard would open the door to software writers (commercial or amateur) to produce interface programs to allow users to transfer funds between their accounts at will, using a single interface.

Mickey the Fish, Sep 11 2000

(?) Open Financial Exchange (OFX) http://www.ofx.net/ofx/
(nee OFC, Open Financial Connectivity): an XML-based financial information and transaction format promulgated by Microsoft, Intuit, and CheckFree. [wiml, Sep 11 2000]


       My bank doesn't allow web anything, or Quicken directly, and it bums me out. There is a huge list of banks that will allow you to work through it, though. It does seem to be something of a default standard...Probably for no other reason than they've been doing it a while and have a reputation, unlike MS Wallet which is just an evil idea.
StarChaser, Oct 22 2000

       The reason that they all have their own system for this is so that it is a huge pain in the backside to change banks. If there was a universal package that fitted all sizes then the banks would actually have to be competitive. I can't see it happening without some sort of legislation. After all, it takes the same length of time for a cheque to clear today as it did 150 years ago.
DrBob, Feb 15 2001

       Yeah, but now it actually clears in one day at most. The banks then keep the cash so they can skim the interest off it. Miniscule per check, but when you do lots of checks per day...
StarChaser, Feb 16 2001

DrBob, Feb 23 2001

       Where are you guys living??? There are non-proprietory protocols for such transactions. One of them is called ATM protocol if I remember right!?!
jrand, Jun 14 2001

       jrand: ATMs (automatic teller machines) use proprietary, often incompatible protocols. All they do is talk to the bank or network that owns them, after all, so they don't actually have to be standardized. There is a non-proprietary protocol called ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) but it has nothing to do with automated teller machines.
wiml, Jun 14 2001

       Mickey, others: There is actually a public protocol for this sort of thing called OFC or OFX, promulgated by Microsoft of all people, used in MSMoney and possibly Quicken as well. I only know about it because a friend works on the MSMoney team, but it *is* possible (with effort) to find the protocol specification on Microsoft's website.   

       My bank will allow me to download statements in OFC format, but I don't think it will allow me to request transfers except through their painful web site. Still, this is progress: a year ago they wouldn't let me do online banking at all unless I used their custom MSWindows-only client.   

       There is still one piece missing: even if my bank uses OFC/OFX, there's no good way of finding that out, or finding out how to send or request OFC transactions.
wiml, Jun 14 2001

       Yahoo! Finance will drive most OFX-capable banks (and plenty of others, too, via wrappers).
egnor, Jun 14 2001


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