First Direct upgrades account aggregation systems

Internet bank First Direct has upgraded its account aggregation service to incorporate information about customers’ utility...

Internet bank First Direct has upgraded its account aggregation service to incorporate information about customers’ utility bills, loyalty cards and E-bay accounts.

The service, called Internet Banking plus, allows customers to view all their accounts, and non-financial information - from various companies - in one place.

New features include the addition of lifestyle accounts such as reward and loyalty cards, air miles and e-mail.

The software for the revised account aggregation service, supplied by eWise Systems, lets customers sign on once to access their account information from the First Direct web site.

First Direct said its account aggregation has more than 40,000 registered users.

The service uses scripting technology to retrieve customer information from other banks and companies and update First Direct’s aggregation service.

Customers’ password and financial information is stored in a "digital safe" on their PC rather than an external server. The service uses the triple DES encryption standard for security.

Account aggregation services have become a common feature of internet banking but early launches were overshadowed by legal concerns.

In 2001 Egg and Virgin Money delayed the roll-out of account aggregation services in response to fears that they may breach data protection and security laws, including the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

Companies offering account aggregation services need customers to supply the passwords to their other accounts, allowing the aggregation provider to "scrape" account information together for display on one web site.

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