Online banking, digital payments and personal financial management are all popular and all involve consumer funds, accounts and the web. So it makes little sense that these financial activities in most cases have required separate log-ins by users, or complex navigation to a different site.

"We've urged financial institutions to bring PFM out of the shadows of a tab and into … online banking, right from the log-in," says Mark Schwanhausser, a research analyst at Javelin Research. "Once customers log in, they should see a 'view + do' approach that enables them to monitor accounts as they always have but also tend to common financial tasks such as paying bills, moving money via transfers and P2P, checking their alerts and gaining insights about their spending from PFM data."

"View and do" has generally not been the rule, but a broader acceptance of single sign-on technology is underway. It's being driven by the growth of personal financial-management users and the anticipated spike in person-to-person payments as mobile banking grows. Banks can't afford to miss out on those trends because of poor web navigation and multiple log-ins.

"Online banking and bill pay need a lift," Schwanhausser says. "My belief is that PFM at the heart of online banking, with bill pay and transfers exposed in a simple format, can provide that lift."

CU at the Landing Page
Some of the current innovation is coming from credit unions. Starting early next year, members of Veridian Credit Union will enter their normal home-banking credentials to access Dwolla directly from Veridian's online banking interface. By integrating Dwolla's online, location-based payments and social networking with Veridian's online platform, the credit union's members will have the ability to make payments to anyone with an address or cell phone number, as well as their Facebook and Twitter friends and followers, directly from inside home banking.

"There are a few advantages to using a single sign-on to access our P2P solution," says Brett Engstrom, web services manager for Veridian. "The first and more obvious advantage is convenience for the member, who has one password to manage and one site to visit. The second advantage is that conducting a transaction within the banking session allows the Dwolla service to check available funds instantly. This eliminates the need to spend one to two days verifying availability of funds. The end result is a faster transfer for our member and the recipient." Veridian is one of the first financial institutions to integrate online banking with Dwolla's payment solution.

Engstrom also says Dwolla has mobile apps today that the credit union's members will be able to take advantage of from day one. "We are continually looking for ways to streamline our services, so P2P will likely be integrated into Veridian's mobile solution as well," he says.

Another credit union, American First Credit Union, has licensed Fiserv's online banking platform to integrate its bill pay with online banking with single sign-on, including access to deposits and card personalization. American First also just launched ZashPay, Fiserv's P2P platform, to include person-to-person payments, which will be integrated into online banking. Additionally, the credit union is extending its online banking account credentials to its mobile banking service.

"There's less data entry, so members don't have to enter different data" for different systems, says Mike Salerno, E-Service manger at American First Credit Union. "We basically just grab that data from each system and pass it along."

Schwanhausser, who touts Fiserv's Corillian Online as a tech product that successfully brings these different digital banking services together in one page, contends that a roadblock to greater adoption of single sign-on has been tech vendors. "Many of them offer PFM in a tab, where it gets little notice and usage. FIs that want it at the heart of online banking typically have to construct that on their own."

A Fiserv spokesperson told BTN that Fiserv has about 100 banks using Corillian Online. Of these, about 20 have an "integrated landing page," which means they combine elements of multiple services such as online banking, bill pay, personal payment and PFM into a single page.

Corillian Online leverages Web 2.0 and rich application technology (RIA allows advanced graphic representations such as video capture) to provide a personalized online banking experience within a display that's designed to be simple and intuitive.

Lots of Choices
Many of the other tech firms that are targeting online banking, bill pay, PFM, P2P and other services contend they are expanding their ability to integrate online banking platforms into other firms' solutions.

"Clearly the expectation of customers is to be able to go to an online or mobile site and be able to access different services seamlessly, without multiple credentials, where the user doesn't have to go across multiple sites," says Susan Hawkins, senior vice president and group executive for FIS' ebanking mobile and commercial treasury solutions. Hawkins says FIS is able to integrate with third-party platforms to provide single sign-on for multiple online financial services. It's also using a service-oriented architecture to provide seamless navigation to transaction histories for digital payment or financial management services.

Online Resources, which uses APIs (application programming interfaces, which generally allow for easier interfaces between operating systems) and single sign-on to make digital financial services from third parties available to online banking users through an in-session hand off from ORCC to the third party. "It looks seamless to the user," says Jeff Chambers, vice president of advanced banking services for Online Resources.

Greg Adelson, president of IPay Technologies, which offers consumer and small-business online bill-pay products that include P2P, account to account, check payment tracking and other services, says the firm enables seamless integration across more than 60 banking channels, which allows consumers and small businesses access to all iPay products and services transparently, through a mix of web services, API toolkits and widget deployment offerings.

But even as P2P and PFM get woven into online banking via single sign-on, there are still fundamental services that remain on separate systems, requiring different credentials. "You still have separate sign-ons for wealth management and for your brokerage accounts than you do for your checking account," says Nicole Sturgill, a research director at TowerGroup. "That seems to be where the division is."