Account Aggregators and the fear of ‘one smart cookie’

‘All it takes is one smart cookie and all of a sudden they’ve got access to all your accounts.’ This was the unprompted response of one banking customer, when asked what they thought of the idea of consolidating their bank accounts into an online account aggregator.

Mapa asked twelve digital banking customers to take part in two focus groups, split into age groups – over 30s and under 30s – to explore their usage of and attitude to account aggregators. Mapa researchers demonstrated the basic concept – the ability to view, manage and analyse transactions and payments from multiple accounts via a single platform – and let the conversation flow.

Awareness low, usage non-existent

None of our focus group participants currently use an account aggregator, and only one had seen any details about aggregators – via an email she’d been sent advertising one.

Once shown the basics of how account aggregators work, initial responses were unconvinced. Some were apathetic – ‘I don’t need an app to tell me I’ve got no money left’, while others homed in security concerns around trusting a third party to hold all of their account data.


Overcoming lack of trust

Our focus group members were a sceptical bunch across both age groups, but on the whole acknowledged that they were late adopters of FinTech innovations. As one participant put it: ‘You don’t see the value until you start. Using an app on your phone for mobile banking is the easiest thing but I didn’t appreciate it until I started using it.’

A little probing by our moderator elicited thoughts on what might address, or overcome, security concerns.

  1. ‘If it came with your bank and it was normal, you’d probably do it’. Several people were more open to the idea of using an aggregator if it were offered by a brand they already used and trusted with their data, rather than an unknown third party, suggesting an opportunity for incumbents looking to enter the market.
  2. ‘I’d rather everyone had the security breaches before I signed up’. Advocacy is key here –aggregators would be wise to make use of early enthusiasts to prove they’ve used the services problem-free, and persuade people they know of the benefits.
  3. ‘If it’s recommending me deals I wouldn’t find myself, I’d find that useful.’ Some, though not all, liked the idea of an aggregator using their data to make money-saving recommendations, and might be tempted into using one if it could offer tangible benefits – and live up to promises.

It’s fair to say that none of our participants were chomping at the aggregator bit. But there was general acknowledgement across the groups that fear of the new-fangled could be putting them off, and that if aggregation proved its value – and security – and became a ‘standard’ part of banking, they might well become converts.

To find out more about our focus group members’ thoughts on aggregators and differences by age group, including their views on privacy, PFM and personalised recommendations, download our free full report.


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