I’m very happy to announce the launch of the Wesabe API. This is a new release for us, and a new way of using Wesabe — as a tool for getting your data out of your banks and credit cards, and into whatever form or program is going to most help you manage your money. We’re excited and very happy with what possibilities the API creates. (If you don’t know about APIs, there’s a good introduction to the idea at Programmable Web.)
Of course, lots of companies have APIs. What makes ours different?
We already provide a set of tools for automatically uploading your bank and credit card data to the Wesabe site. With the release of this API, we’re adding tools to help you automatically download and manipulate that data, too. As a result, we’re not just providing an API for our own site, but also for all the bank and credit card sites that Wesabe supports, as well. Since Wesabe supports banks and credit cards in over 30 countries around the world, we’re effectively providing developers everywhere a way to unlock data from their financial institutions and put that data to work.
Wesabe is a site that exists in order to change the balance of information — and with information, power — between consumers and the businesses we patronize. As I’ve written before, we believe that businesses know way too much about consumers (where we live, how much we make, our roommates, our magazine subscriptions, and so on), and consumers know way too little about businesses. Our mission is to unlock the power of financial data:
- for individuals, by freeing that data from the vaults of financial institutions and putting it into the hands of the people who need it and can use it to make their lives better, and
- for consumers as a community, by pooling our data anonymously and finding the patterns that point the way towards great value and great satisfaction.
We want to take the idea of a credit bureau (where businesses report their experiences with consumers so that other businesses can benefit) and turn it on its head — building instead a value bureau, where consumers can share their experiences with businesses, so all consumers can benefit.
We believe that the best way to get to this goal is by putting that powerful data in the hands of every consumer who wants it. If you’ve been using Excel for years and you have your reports just the way you like them, great: the Wesabe API supports Excel downloads and can be called from within Excel using VBScript. If you’ve developed your own tools already, great: you can use our API to automate download of your data to your own system, and take advantage of our automation work and the community editing the people on Wesabe provide. Or, if you use the Wesabe site all the time but really want a report we don’t yet provide, this is a way to get that for yourself (or, we hope from other developers will to share their work). As the database grows, our ability to make better and better recommendations for great values and financial strategies does, too — no matter what tools people are using.
In a way, it’s almost inconceivable that a bank would open an API. Banks and credit cards make so much of their money from consumers who are bad at managing their own finances. Why make it easy for people to see the problems they can overcome? That’s why we believe Wesabe has a role to play, advocating for consumers and their finances directly, and that’s why we believe that opening an API is different in our industry than others. We’re freeing a set of data that otherwise might have remained locked away.
We’ve posted a set of documentation about the new API at https://www.wesabe.com/page/api, including example code in Ruby, Python, Perl, and Java. Also, we’ve created a Wesabe Group for API developers to get help or ask questions.
Check it out. And let us know how we can make it better. We’re looking forward to seeing what you create.