Open banking shifts the ownership of transaction data from banks to people. In the dark ages you often had to pay an extortionate service fee for high street banks to fax over your old statements. Open banking arrived and banks are now obliged to grant access to your data through an API.
Automated transaction feeds enable fintechs to provide services in account aggregation, money management, budgeting, accounting, investment, and savings. Smaller fintechs tend to use a regulated third party provider to connect bank accounts to their services.
In this battle we put two money management fintechs, Chip and Cleo, side-by-side to see who provides the better experience connecting up your bank account.
Chip gets your bank connected in two stages. I wasn’t told this at the time, but I live to tell the tale. There’s a non-skippable screen as you sign up asking you to "select your bank" to "connect your day-to-day bank via open banking". I choose Monzo. In reality you’re connecting your card. Some money is pinged around to make sure everything is hooked up. All is well, or so I thought.
I found it strange to be asked to connect my Monzo account on my profile tab. Hadn’t I already done this? Chip uses TrueLayer to connect accounts, and it’s pretty smooth, aside from a pesky browser popup on the return journey. Visually though, it doesn’t feel as integrated as Cleo.
Understandably Chip requires a card connection move money. Chip also needs to connect via Open Banking to see transaction data for the AI to work its magic. This is well explained on their website but better UX microcopy would smooth out the in-app journey.
Chip connects to 17 UK banks: Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Danske, First Direct, HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds Bank, Marks & Spencer, Monzo, Nationwide, Natwest, RBS, Revolut, Santander, Starling, TSB, and Ulster Bank.
The Cleo chat interface makes you feel like you’re using Cleo from the start. It doesn’t feel like onboarding. So with a bit of chit-chat out of the way, Cleo drops a "Get started" card. It’s a nice touch to avoid saying "Connect your bank" or similar. Tap "Get started" and you thrown a bunch of reassuring trust-us messages before heading into choosing and connecting your bank account.
Cleo uses Plaid, another third party provider, to hook up your bank account. Usually you feel you’re being pushed around various sites and services when using these third party services. Cleo feels more integrated here. I choose American Express. The simple electric blue header throughout the journey anchors the experience. Whilst you are technically passed from Cleo to Plaid to American Express to Plaid to Cleo, it doesn’t feel like it.
Cleo connects to 3,000 US banks and 14 UK banks: American Express, Barclays, Capital One, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, Nationwide, Natwest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, TSB Bank, and Bank of Scotland.
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Who does Open Banking better? <a href="https://twitter.com/Get_Chip?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Get_Chip</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/meet_cleo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@meet_cleo</a> battle it out.<a href="https://t.co/F4ehQ3mATZ">https://t.co/F4ehQ3mATZ</a></p>— Fintech Battles™ (@fintechbattles) <a href="https://twitter.com/fintechbattles/status/1255046332940763136?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 28, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>