For most customers of U.S. banks, direct downloads (also called Direct Connect) provide an optimal experience for updating your account transactions in iBank. Its advantages include seamless connectivity to your accounts, no additional costs within iBank, and the fact that its standard OFX protocol is required to use iBank's bill pay feature (if your bank also supports bill payment from within financial software).
Direct downloads require you to set up a separate login and password to your accounts, and some banks may charge a fee for direct connections. Ask your bank about this — and note that for institutions which say they don't "support" iBank, you can ordinarily connect the same way as you would if you were using Quicken. A list of banks that support OFX connections to iBank is available within the free trial version of the app.
If your financial institution doesn't support Direct Connect, iBank includes an integrated web browser that simplifies the process of importing transactions from your bank's website. Easily add your bank's URL to iBank, open the bank's login page with a click, then access your transactions and download your current financial data in any of these standard formats: OFX (Microsoft Money), QFX (Quicken WebConnect), or QIF (Quicken Standard), as well as CSV.
Once the files have downloaded, iBank takes you directly to the import window to process the new transactions and add them to your accounts. All this is done without leaving iBank, and without creating a separate account login. Web downloads never entail any charges, and are compatible with nearly any financial institution.
A subscription-based service that's exclusive to iBank (for Mac and iPad), Direct Access is a superior, advanced method for updating account data automatically. Direct Access connects to thousands of banks worldwide, and allows you to see all of your financial transactions in iBank as soon as they become available in your online accounts. Once your banking logins are set up, accounts update in the background, with no additional steps needed.
Direct Access subscriptions can be shared between your copies of iBank 5 and iBank for iPad, and downloaded data can be synced between devices. The service requires signing up for a free iBank ID, and an annual subscription costs $39.99. But if the first two methods above meet your needs, Direct Access is never required in order to use iBank successfully. More information is available on the Direct Access FAQ page.