This February, Envestnet® | Yodlee® rolled out several important updates affecting developers. One in particular, support for U.S. Open Banking, marks a significant shift in how financial data gets managed.
In this post, we’ll give some brief background, followed by a breakdown of the changes:
Most importantly, throughout we’ll take a look at the impact on working with Envestnet | Yodlee tools and APIs.
The New World of U.S. Open Banking
Principally, this update brings together the pieces needed to unlock the potential of United States Open Banking.
Open banking is poised to transform the financial ecosystem and helps resolve issues with governance practices in the U.S. Unlike elsewhere in the world (the U.K., for example), the move toward open banking in the United States has largely been driven by industry players.
The underlying principal of open banking is fairly straightforward - provide a secure, standard consumer-centric way to access financial data. Prior to open banking, industry players employed a variety of mechanisms to access financial data. Traditionally, the lack of standardized consent flows impeded both customer choice and control as well as dependable, responsible data access for developers. Open banking eliminates many of these hurdles, with financial institutions providing the data through well-defined APIs.
Legacy data access methods and silos are rapidly being replaced with more robust, capable and collaborative data access protocols. In The Age of the API Economy, you can imagine how demand for better access has driven change. Envestnet | Yodlee has been at the forefront of this movement from the beginning.
Bringing open banking to the market has many challenges. Envestnet | Yodlee has focused on addressing these challenges and is providing our customers with a simple yet powerful suite of tools to deliver on the goals of U.S. Open Banking. At the center of our solution is the simplicity and power of putting the consumer in charge of access to their financial data - the end-user consents to sharing, and Envestnet | Yodlee gets the data directly.
Bottom line, for you, the financial application developer, this is all good news. Adoption of U.S. Open Banking means more reliable data feeds, greater agility within the entire financial ecosystem, and more opportunity to drive innovation.
Delivering on Developer and Industry Needs
FastLink 4.0 incorporates years of experience with the flows necessary to allow end-users to link their data. FastLink 4.0 has a modern, mobile-first design. It allows easy customization of nearly every aspect of the UI. And, it has improved hooks to provide insight to and control over the user experience.
In the past Envestnet | Yodlee provided APIs allowing developers to roll their own account linking. Experience has shown managing all the pitfalls (handling Multi-Factor Authentication, for example) has made this a development and security challenge.
The customizability of FastLink 4.0 means you as a developer have extensive control over the presentation to your user. This combination has led Envestnet | Yodlee to deprecate linking via API. Going forward, linking will only be supported using FastLink.
U.S. Open Banking Support
FastLink 4.0 now supports the workflows necessary for U.S. Open Banking. The actual flows are simple and familiar. To enable data retrieval via a U.S. Open Banking feed, the end-user must provide consent directly to the provider.
This happens via a typical OAuth 2 sequence. You are most likely familiar with this by now. Many services use the same approach.
Usually there’s an initial screen used to give some context. In this case, it’s a screen in FastLink telling the user what data your app wants to access via Envestnet | Yodlee.
Next, a separate screen pops up, supplied by the provider, asking the user to consent to share data. This is where the user enters their username and password, or any other credentials required.
Finally, the user gets returned to FastLink, where they will select the actual accounts to link. Behind the scenes, this is the step where Envestnet | Yodlee receives an access token from the provider to use in requesting data. This protocol eliminates the need for access or storage of the user’s login credentials.
Migrating to U.S. Open Banking
The main complexity in transitioning to U.S. Open Banking has to do with oversight and consent. First off, your company has to actively opt in to U.S. Open Banking with Envestnet | Yodlee. To do that, login in to the Envestnet | Yodlee Developer Portal, then go here and click "Apply for Access".
Once you have U.S. Open Banking enabled, you will be eligible to migrate specific providers. These migrations happen in scheduled batches. Having migrated, there is a transition runway period where both screen scraping and U.S. Open Banking can be used to refresh data. After this period concludes, any accounts not updated will go into an error state, since the data can no longer be refreshed.
Envestnet | Yodlee takes care of the rest of the details with the partner FIs. And, we provide other support, including communications templates to help your users understand the transition.
This short video provides an excellent explanation of the process as well. The section on preparing for the transition, starting at timestamp 4:40, is especially worthwhile.
Finally, it’s important to note the provider ID (sometimes known as the site ID) for the financial institution will change. This is the internal number Envestnet | Yodlee uses to identify FIs. If you use that ID in your application, you may need to migrate information to the new one.
Testing U.S. Open Banking
Envestnet | Yodlee has a mock site you can use to test U.S. Open Banking. You can use this in your Sandbox or other environments as soon as your account has U.S. Open Banking enabled.
To use it, launch FastLink and search for "Dag OAuth". Enter YodTest2.site19335.1/site19335.1 for the username/password.
If you haven’t set up FastLink yet, you may want to check out our Quickstart Guide.
U.S. Open Banking References
You can find a wealth of resources across Envestnet | Yodlee’s websites by searching for U.S. Open Banking. Here are some that may be of particular interest.
Read a high-level overview, along with a simplified guide to how it works here.
Get more details about transitioning to U.S. Open Banking in the product guide.
Watch this webinar for a walk through of the FastLink flows, and a technical demo of U.S. Open Banking integration
For an excellent introduction to OAuth 2, take a look at this blog post by Okta.
Region Support and Language Localization
With the February update to FastLink 4.0, Envestnet | Yodlee has added improved support for regions and languages beyond U.S./English. Some of these will happen automatically, based on the business region you selected for your account. You should also set preferences in the FastLink 4.0 styling tool. Click on "Configuration Tool" on the API URLs tab of your Dashboard to access the FastLink 4.0 styling tool. Here are the details for each region:
United States - Full U.S. English support, default U.S. popular sites, currency and date format.
Canada - Translated strings for both Canadian French and Canadian English, default Canadian popular sites, currency and date format.
Latin America - No app translations for this region, but default Latin American popular sites, currency and date format shown. Note there is currently support for aggregation only, not account verification.
EMEA - No app translations for EMEA, but default EMEA popular sites, currency and date format shown.
Manual Onboarding for Accounts and Assets
For various reasons, you or your users may want to track assets or accounts not supported by Envestnet | Yodlee. This can include anything from accounts with no online linking coverage, to valuables like jewelry.
FastLink 4.0 now supports manual accounts, including transactions.
Real Estate Support
Real estate accounts can also be added similarly to manual accounts. The user has an option to add the value of the property themselves or leverage Envestnet | Yodlee’s real estate valuation service (U.S. only). When adding the property value through the SmartZip option, the real estate values are updated monthly for supported property addresses.
Migrating to FastLink 4.0
FastLink 4.0 along with Client Credentials authentication, are the most up-to-date offerings from Envestnet | Yodlee. New users will start with these. If you’re currently on a prior version of FastLink, you can refer to this guide to aid your migration. If you’re still using JWTs for authentication, this blog post will help you transition.
FastLink 4 advanced integration guide (Includes information on manual and real estate accounts.)