Last week, my company, Wesabe (which makes a personal finance community site), launched a REST API that allows anyone to get their bank or credit card data in XML, Excel, CSV, or a bunch of standard financial formats. Tonight, we launched an open source Firefox extension that allows anyone to automatically extract data from their bank every night, and upload it to Wesabe, regardless of whether their bank provides automatic download or not. Both of these features work for any bank in any country, as long as they support one of our export formats (OFX, QFX, QIF, OFC, Quicken, Money, and a few others coming soon). Data in, data out, free and easy.
There’s a basic Web 2.0 story here, which is simply that opening up APIs and embracing the web as a platform is a great way to empower the people using your service. It’s been amazing to me to see one developer after another approach us about using the API, even in its early form. But, while obviously I’m totally biased, I think think there’s a deeper story here, too, and I thought it would be worth calling out some of the things that make the Wesabe API and Firefox extension releases different and interesting.
Read the entire post. It’s worth it. Marc also points to a few other services with similar VRM efforts:
It’s fun for me to see other startups going down a similar path in other industries. For instance, Get Satisfaction seems to be taking a related approach with customer service, another industry with a SuperMax approach to data. Free the data and flip the model, and you can make even the stodgiest industry into a web platform participant — whether they like it or not.
Great progress. And definitely one of the most developed Personal Data Store Services on the market.
Colin Henderson at Bankwatch also has a nice post discussing Wesabe’s new API.
Best of luck with the venture, Wesabe. We hope to see you at future VRM event.