We are changing things up a bit here. Instead of hearing from Ian for this blog post, it’s me James, CTO at IGG Software.

I want to give you an update on some things we discussed in this blog post, Services Roadmap.  To quote from that post, “Once our move to subscription is done we are taking on a major project to build out our next generation Direct Access service.”  

Update May 2021: Please note Banktivity 8.3 is now available and can connect to banks in the UK and EU.


Well, we launched Banktivity version 8 in late October.  This was our most complex launch ever and as expected it had some issues and requests from customers.  The month of November was very much all-hands-on-deck to get updates out for our services, and macOS, iOS and iPadOS apps.  In December we released Banktivity 8.1 that brought among many other things, tag support for transaction templates and scheduled transactions. This had been one of our most requested features. At this point some of you might be thinking “wait, are you about to tell me that you just started on the next generation Direct Access service?”.  The answer to that is, “no”.


We did a lot of the groundwork for Direct Access 2 (DA2) before we launched Banktivity 8.  This included the high-level design, forming the business relationship, and plans with our partners to execute once Banktivity 8 was out.  In December we started building out the server “connective tissue” for DA2.  In early January I started work on the apps and the DA2 server was stood up for internal testing.  It is now mid-February and I just committed the internal changes needed for DA2 into our main source branch.  Does this mean it is done?  Sorry, the answer to that also is “no”.  Soon, we will release Banktivity 8.2 and when we do, if I did my job right, you will not see any difference from the code I added.  


So why am I writing this blog post?  Well, this was the last step to complete before we can start our internal testing against real banking data.  This is a huge milestone for Banktivity!  The other reason I wanted to update you is that in our Services Roadmap post we said the first step to adding support for UK and European Union banks is to build our v2 Direct Access service, and that, “Once that is in place we will be working on integrating this provider for our UK and European Union customers.”  I have an update, because things are going so well we have moved support for Open Banking up and are currently working on the server pieces.  This means that the first lines of code for supporting UK and European Union banks have been written, which is also a huge milestone for us!  This does not mean that Open Banking support will ship at the same time as DA2 but it does mean that we are not waiting for DA2 to finish before starting on Open Banking.


I am sure some of you want to know when we will ship this. The answer is “as soon as it is ready” I don’t know exactly when that will be as things can come up and unforeseen problems can happen.  But I can give an estimate.  It took us 8 weeks to go from where we are now on the server for Open Banking to this point.  That puts us in mid-April for internal testing to begin on Open Banking.  There is some catalog work and UI integration which is another 4 weeks-ish so that is the middle of May,  Finally, we have our quality and UI testing to do, so I would say we will be ready for some private beta testing in June.  There are two of us working full time on making this happen and we are very excited to get it out.


One final thing to note we will not be migrating everyone to DA2 at launch.  It will be an opt-in migration, so if DA is working for you, you can keep using it while we work out the kinks in the new system.  I do expect that everyone will eventually want to move to DA2 since it should be a better experience when pulling transactions from the banks, and over time some banks will start to require features that are only available in DA2.  That is something we can’t control.


Hopefully, you don’t want to hear from me soon because I want to keep my nose to the grindstone and keep writing and testing lots of complex code.

– James

James Gillespie
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39 comments on “Direct Access 2 and Open Banking Support in the UK and EU

  • Thanks for the heads up on this.

    What I get from this post is that, as an EU customer, I shouldn’t expect something before Summer (at best) and most reasonably Fall 21. To put it otherwise, that will be 1 year after the launch of v8 and the launch of your subscription model.
    Therefore I’ll keep asking what I was asking 6 months ago when you presented the “Services Roadmap”: why don’t you offer a lower tier subscription for your UK/EU customers, with just the sync service? Why should we pay the full price of the Bronze-tier when we simply CANNOT use DirectAccess?

    In the meantime, I will stay on v7, and keep an eye out on the competition.
    I’d be happy to pay for the v8… but at a reasonable price considering the (limited) services I can benefit from.

    • That’s a totally reasonable question, and I’d also like to see a reply.
      Why should EU / UK customers pay for features they simply can’t use (yet)?

      • Thanks for the comments. If you don’t feel the value is there without UK/EU bank support then I’d encourage you to wait. If we take time to rework our tier/plan structure it will slow down development in other areas which I don’t want to. I also want to point out we are partnering with SaltEdge for the UK/EU bank support, so there is a chance that your favorite bank may not be supported and that is out of our control.

        • Thanks for letting us know which provider you’re partnering with.
          This way I found out that they support 3 of the 4 banks I use, and I’ll be contacting them about the other one.

        • Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the transparency, even though I’m not really happy with what you explain.
          If I summarize I’m thus left with:
          1/ pay a subscription for services I cannot use (yes, I find 5€/month to be way too much for “just” a sync service, as in terms of functionalities there’s not much changes from v7 with only the Bronze-tier, and what’s new in Silver is rather US-oriented ).
          or 2/ wait for DA2 to arrive in a few months, hoping it will bring support for my EU bank.

          Is there a list somewhere we could check of banks that will be supported with SaltEdge? Because if mine isn’t, there’s no point in waiting any longer then… 🙁

        • That’s all well and good but automatic downloading of transactions is an advertised feature of Banktivity 8 on the uk app stores. Surely you can accept that’s morally long and likely in breach of uk legislation?

    • It seems that Banktivity have a long way to go to bring the program up to the standard of other similar programs. At first look one cannot help seeing that the version 8 is not even as good as previous versions.
      As version 8 cannot even connect to my bank (Lloyds UK) I do not see the point of updating.

  • I tend to agree with the observation on the subscription price but I am enormously pleased to see that support for Open Banking is progressing and I look forward to being able to help test it if I can!

  • Is DA2 the latest available aggregation technology ? I am hoping this is a quantum leap to future proof this component (as much as possible). Luckily current DA does the job for me but I am hoping this leap is more robust behind the scenes.

  • I hope this will reenable my bank (USAA) I feel like I am in the dark ages manually downloading transactions from each account and then importing them separately into BankActivity. Fingers Crossed.

  • Thanks for the update guys, much appreciated. Kinda agree on the subs point, but if it means we get the OB support quicker…. Understand this is challenging – look forward to your continued prioritisation of this function. Let us know how to be testers, keen to help this along!

      • Great News Ian,

        Personally we have accounts at UBS and Postfinance. (UBS main accounts)
        3rd Qtr 2021 would be great for direct access, have just signed up with Banktivity and it will take 2-3 months to get all my accounts reconciled and working fine.

        Whilst I understand banktivity get a lot of push back on the subscription model, people need to understand this is the direction services are moving (all areas). Longer term I am sure the price/value/volume curve will work out (this is the underlying concern rather than actual subscription) It is a great software. People can always opt out if they do not value the direct bank access.

        One nice to have. It would be great to have IPad app with better graphing/table functionality (equal to main app) One example is to chart on Tag’s (used to manage property or specific projects). ie interval report for a Tag would allow annual view of Rental Property.

        Thanks
        Dave

  • Will you also continue to support existing Yodlee enabled Direct Access connections? UK and EU investment accounts don’t use PSD2 Open Banking, so do actually work with Direct Access at the moment. I would hate to find that when PSD2 banks are enabled, all my Investment accounts stop working…

    • Yes, Yodlee connections will continue to be supported. If there is overlap between Yodlee and Salt Edge, the customer can choose which one they want to use to connect.

  • As an EU customer, I’ve resisted upgrading as the value proposition of Banktivity 8 is insufficient. EU customers tend to need multi-currency support (I do), so the top tier is the only real option. Yet it rankles that, despite having to pay for the top tier, EU customers are getting a much worse service than US customers. So I’ve been waiting to see how this new PSD2-compatible DA service progresses. I’m delighted to hear about the progress, delighted to learn that all of my banks are supported by Salt Edge. So as soon as you roll this out (and after I get some reports about how it’s working), you can count on me upgrading. But it makes no sense unless and until we EU customers get something approaching parity with US ones. I won’t hold against you the fact that there’s no Zillow equivalent where I live… 🙂

    • I fully agree with the above comment. I had to buy Gold ($130 per year when paid in UK Sterling) for exchange rates. But I get hardly any other connectivity. And remember you justified moving to subscription at least partially because of the cost of maintaining online services!

      Well at least it is a step forward that you are finally (after 3-4 year gap) reinstating DA for EU/UK accounts. But really for the cost of the subscription you need to massively improve on financial data connectivity. There is currently no support at all for mutual funds in EU/UK, stock prices only update with end of day prices (which are sometimes wrong), and now my Euronext Amsterdam prices have stopped updating completely. Your competitors all succeed in providing better data for a fraction of the cost.

      • I don’t understand the whining….
        The Banktivity app used to require a purchase to upgrade, which was roughly once per year. Direct Access was an optional purchase on top of this.

        Now the app is ‘Free’ but you have to subscribe for connected features which previously required subscribing to direct access – but you only have to do this once if you don’t want the Direct Access-equivalent features).

        And of course you can keep using v7 if you want.

        I’’d love to see how people spend their money when $130 USD per year for the top tier is ‘too much’ yet they have a computer and use an electronic financial program to keep track of their ‘multiple currencies & bank accounts’. It’s $2.50 per week.

        I prefer the subscription model if it helps make IGG viable into the future and encourages them to continue develop & improve the apps more frequently (which appears to be the case).. Software development is a tough industry, especially for small teams who don’t have massive corporations behind them to throw good money after bad.

        • With v7, there was no subscription to pay for sync between devices. It’s my case: I paid 45€ for the apps 2 years ago. And that’s all, nothing ever since. No subscription (simply because DA is not available for my EU bank).
          If I want to upgrade to v8, I’d have to pay the same price PER YEAR, for no added services. And if I’d stop paying, I’ll lose the sync between devices. I’d be OK to pay a subscription for the sync, as indeed it’s an online service, but not at that current price.

          I also agree with above comments on the fact that overall, current plans (and the new major v8 functionalities) are very US-centric. That’s fine, and I don’t mind the subscription model, I get the rationale behind it. But just don’t expect EU customers to be happy if we’re asked to pay the same price for fewer functionalities/services…

          Therefore in the meantime, like the people above, I’ll wait until there is enough value for EU customers to pay for v8.

        • I don’t have the slightest objection to paying for a subscription – as long as we outside of US get same level of service as US customers. But we have to pay more than US customers due to Apple Store pricing policy, plus we mostly need Gold, plus we get very little connectivity apart from exchange rates. We are effectively paying a lot to subsidise the online services that only US customers currently get.

  • great, saltedge supports all my bank accounts. I have gotten used to the old method of exporting qif files and importing them, with the old version of DA I had problems with duplicates especially if downloading bank statements and entries using 2 different computers, it never really synced properly and spent a lot of time removing “incorrect or duplicate” entries

    hopefully DA2 will work much better

    thank you!

  • Glad to hear this. For me it is my only complaint about Banktivity. I have had problems with DA for a long time. A couple of months ago it would not download about a dozen transactions from Busey Bank.. Entered these by hand like I have before.

  • Brilliant news, once this is rolled out I will be upgrading from version 7 to the gold membership.

    So glad you are actually developing this as I love the software!

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