A copy of the letter in full is below:
I am writing to you today to urge that small businesses be granted secure electronic access to their own bank statement data. By failing to make this available via an API, you are holding back the British economy by slowing down the speed of financial data and putting UK businesses at a disadvantage to overseas competitors.
In the current economic climate, up-to-date accounting information is more important than ever. Whilst good accounting software has the ability to help small businesses achieve this, the one thing slowing everything down is lack of electronic access to bank statement data.
To work around the lack of official and secure access, third-parties have developed services to achieve a similar result. But these require customers to provide their internet banking log in details. Not only does this raise obvious security concerns, it also breaches your terms and conditions, thus leaving the business owner liable for any fraud on the account. Additionally, the unapproved and unofficial way these services extract data makes them incredibly unreliable; it only takes a small change on your website to break the service.
The time has therefore surely come for banks to grant this ability, and eliminate the risk that small businesses are facing surrounding accessing data in a safe, secure and reliable manner. Banks in many other countries already make this data available to a large degree, and a failure to mirror this progress in Britain is slowing down the pace at which our country’s small businesses can move, putting both small firms and start-ups at a severe disadvantage.
A shift in the way that small businesses can access their data would not only benefit the British small business; banks could also benefit through having the option to charge the account owner for access. In addition small businesses could optionally reciprocate the data access, providing banks with a timely and accurate view of the businesses they work with and lend money to.
There are no security or technology hurdles to address; all of this data already exists in a format that is suitable for this purpose, and existing security standards could enable secure access. All that is required is the will of the banks.
I implore you to act now to eliminate some of the struggles small businesses face in their accounting to drive the growth of the country’s small businesses, and in turn fuel the UK economy.
Duane Jackson, KashFlow CEO and founder