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With Finicity deal, Fidelity continues to push ahead with customer data sharing

  • Fidelity further commits to enabling data sharing.
  • Customer control and permission is core to the firm's strategy.
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With Finicity deal, Fidelity continues to push ahead with customer data sharing

Fidelity customers can now securely share their financial data with a variety of third-party financial apps and services.

The financial firm is a few weeks into a new arrangement that significantly opens up the sharing of customer financial data using Fidelity Access, the firm’s new data sharing API. Access enables Fidelity customers to sync their account information with apps and services, like personal finance managers, accounting platforms, and payment firms. Fidelity clients can turn to these third-party platforms for assistance with investing, retirement planning, and college savings, eliminating the need to provide login credentials.

“This is a great way to parter with the emerging ecosystem of financial tools,” said Stuart Rubinstein, president of Fidelity Wealth Technologies. “We want to support this, invest in fintech, encourage the ecosystem to grow, but data needs to travel in a way that’s safer more secure.”

Finicity, a real-time financial data aggregator, is the first customer to sign on to use the Fidelity Access API. Finicity has relationships with a variety of applications and digital financial service providers. With this deal, Fidelity retail and workplace customers will be able to share their brokerage and 401(k) data with fintech firms connected to Finicity without having to provide their login credentials each time. The log-in process is replaced with direct authorization by the customer through Fidelity and the use of tokens for authentication and access.

Enabling customers to use their own data isn’t new for Fidelity. The company has helped customers use their data in other applications since the 1990s, when brokerage customers could export their data into personal finance software, Quicken. In the early 2000s, Fidelity customers received a leg up in tax preparation, when the firm pre-populated Schedule D information into TurboTax, Intuit’s popular tax software.

But the current security environment presents new challenges. Many third-party apps continue to monitor and track user data, even when the user stops actively using them. JPMorgan, another Finicity customer, made waves last year when CEO Jamie Dimon complained about screen scrapers and the continuous passive aggregation of customer data. With Access, Fidelity customers can enable, monitor, and revoke access to their data at any time.

“We look at data agg from all sides, but the cybersecurity environment has changed,” said Fidelity’s Rubinstein. “The way it works today isn’t the way it needs to going forward. Consumers should absolutely be able to use their data in third party applications when they want, but it has to be done in a safe, secure, and transparent manner.”

Fidelity also offers its own data aggregation service. Retail brokerage customers can pull data in to their Fidelity accounts via the firm’s own aggregation suite, Full View. Full View is powered by eMoney Advisor, a wealth management technology firm that Fidelity acquired in 2015.

Facing a decision about whether to build, buy or partner, Rubinstein says Fidelity looks at all angles.

“We’re thinking about what’s core to Fidelity in terms of how we get consumers to invest and achieve better outcomes. We look at the ecosystem and see if there’s an opportunity to partner. We might make an acquisition, like we did with eMoney, because we really liked their product. Or, we might invest. It’s great to be part of the ecosystem so we can always participate.”

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