FinApp Fever? B of A is Second Major Bank on Yodlee's Platform

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Bank of America Corp. is using Yodlee Inc.'s FinApp platform to customize its online banking and financial management website.

Bank of America follows Citigroup Inc. as the second bank that Yodlee has verified is working on the FinApp platform it has long promoted as a way for banks do design highly customized websites.

The FinApp system is designed to allow banks and, in some cases, their customers to alter their online banking experience by adding and removing dedicated "apps." For example, a bank can prominently place a tax preparation app and then remove it after tax season.

If Bank of America follows Citi's example, however, its use of Yodlee's platform will not be obvious to end users. Though banks on the FinApp platform are able to let end users customize the look and feel of the website, banks are not obligated to do so.

Bank of America did not make anyone available to comment, and Yodlee, of Redwood City, Calif., was also short on details.

Nevertheless, more banks are likely to experiment with an app-style approach.

Bank of America "is committing itself to the next-generation online experience, which understands the importance of [personal financial management] and the ability for users to have customizable solutions through online banking dashboards," Jacob Jegher, a senior analyst with the research firm Celent, says.

Today, most banks and core providers pitch online banking as a one-size-fits-all product. By contrast, Yodlee's FinApp model caters to individual tastes if banks allow it.

"It will strike consumers as absolutely natural to see apps in [online and] mobile banking," says Mark Schwanhausser, senior analyst at Javelin Strategy and Research.

The app concept is particularly important to younger consumers, since more than a third of those between the ages of 25 and 34 have downloaded apps to their mobile devices, according to a February survey by Javelin.

The FinApp model will also "open the door to targeted merchant-funded rewards by tapping into PFM data to predict likely buyers with greater accuracy," Schwanhausser says.

The FinApp platform currently has 250 developers, including banks, designing financial applications. Until the September announcement of Citi, no banks had publicly disclosed their use of the technology.

The Yodlee FinApp concept "is bringing digital banking up to speed with the rest of the Internet, which is all app- driven and customized to the user, and banking has lagged behind," Joseph Polverari, chief marketing and strategy officer for Yodlee says.

It is up to banks such as Bank of America how they will present the apps, Polverari says.

Customers will either download the apps for free, for a one-time charge, or on a subscription basis, he says.

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