Archive for April, 2008

New Feature: the new Tips tab — the Wesabe Value Engine

April 23, 2008

You’d think that a completely new Automatic Uploader would have been all for today, especially after a new release of the Firefox Uploader yesterday and a datacenter move last weekend. But no.

I’m very happy to announce the new Wesabe Tips tab. We’ve been working on the new version of Tips for a while, and in many ways, it fulfills the whole idea of Wesabe: to automatically and easily find ways for people to get more for their money. We’re calling this idea the Wesabe “Value Engine,” and we think it’s a great way to find values in your current spending, local to your neighborhood.

When you manage your finances on Wesabe, we look through the places you spend, and find suggestions for competitors that might offer you lower prices, higher satisfaction, or ideally, both. We then suggest those comparisons to you right in the transaction list of your accounts:

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These tips are pulled out of the billions of dollars worth of transactions that members have uploaded to Wesabe. We look at how much people spend at a merchant, how often they come back to give that merchant repeat business, and what they have to say about their satisfaction with that merchant. From these points, we build a comparison that lets you narrow in on the values in your neighborhood, and decide which merchant is best for you and your needs:

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In the case above, Wesabe recommended a local grocery store I’ve seen but have never been to, since I shopped at a more expensive option, Andronico’s, in my area. What’s great about this tip is that it shows me a cheaper option that also makes far more people happy. That’s great for me to know, and it may very well change where I shop.

You can also use the very rich tagging data on Wesabe to find related merchants that might be hidden values, or might be well-known to you as brands but not as economic options:

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Here, people spend more at Ikea than at other “home“-tagged items, but they’re also far more happy with it. Between Lowe’s and Home Depot, two close competitors, Lowe’s costs a little more but also seems to make more customers satisfied.

On top of that, you can search for merchants that you know about, and want to learn more about — and that you want to compare to other options in your area:

search

As a consumer, these kind of comparisons, and this kind of data, just haven’t been available before. We know about big brands, and maybe we think well of them, or maybe we don’t. But while they know all about us — our credit score, our salary, where we shop, and even our personal details — we know far too little about them. Wesabe Tips intend to change that, and to empower consumers to make better decisions with our money.

This is a new feature, so the quality and number of tips we identify will vary based on how long you’ve been using Wesabe, and how you tag. We also know that you’ll find some hilariously bad suggestions in there — our favorite in testing was, “Don’t shop at Federal Income Tax — State Income Tax is way more affordable!” Oops. 🙂 In order to account for problems like this, we’ve added a way for you to say, no, this tip isn’t useful, and here’s why:

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The more feedback like this we get, the better the recommendations will become.

Of course, all of our aggregate data is available for free, without registering, to anyone. We’ll talk more about getting the most out of the Tips tab in the weeks to come. Also, all of the Tips our members have contributed over the past year and a half are now part of the new Tips system — check out, for instance, the creditcard tag, which is full of fantastic advice from Wesabeans.

Congratulations to everyone at Wesabe — especially Jeff, Brad, and Coda — for their work on this great new feature. We hope that this is a great new tool in the movement to empower consumers, so that we can all get more from our money and reach our financial goals.

New Feature: the Wesabe Automatic Uploader

April 23, 2008

I’m very happy to announce the release of the Wesabe Automatic Uploader, a new way to keep your accounts updated on Wesabe simply and easily:

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As I mentioned in February, many of our members have asked for a way to keep their accounts up to date on Wesabe without having to download a client application, and without having to manually upload. We hear again and again from people that they love how we offer them tools that get them set up without having to give their bank passwords to a startup company — but that after using and coming to trust the site, they want a higher level of convenience. The new Wesabe Automatic Uploader means that for all covered accounts — including nearly 90% of the accounts on our site, and more and more all the time — you can enter your credentials once and then never have to deal with uploading again. The whole process takes under two minutes to set up, and works great.

We’re very happy to be able to make updating your accounts easier, since of course Wesabe aims to be the easiest to use, most powerful, and importantly, the most effective tool for getting the most from your money. But more than that, I’m also very happy that we have been able to build the best and most secure option for automatic updates. Unlike our competitors, we do not give your credentials to a third-party data middleman service — instead of having your data thrown around by a set of companies, with Wesabe your data stays just between you, your bank, and our site. Unlike our competitors, we don’t have to wait for a vendor to fix their code when something breaks. And unlike our competitors, we do not rely on fragile and unreliable “screen scraping” methods. Instead, we’ve built data import tools from scratch that allow us to support far more banks, credit unions, and credit cards, and do so much more efficiently. We believe our approach offers more flexibility, reliability, security, and privacy, than any other option you have. It also allows us to offer our Data Bill of Rights, which gives you full control of the ownership of your data, and our open API, which allows you full access to your data stored on Wesabe.

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Not all accounts are supported, yet (Tanc, I hear you!), but we’re working on adding more accounts all the time. For those accounts that aren’t yet in the system, or for those people who do not want to use the Automatic Uploader, we are continuing to support our Firefox, Desktop, and Manual Uploaders indefinitely. We know that these tools allow people around the world, and with accounts at smaller banks and credit unions, to enjoy automated updates, and to keep control of their credentials where they want them. As long as people want them, we are not in any way removing these options.

promptTo get started with the Automatic Uploader, sign into Wesabe and you’ll see an “Auto Upload Available” link for all your accounts that are currently supported. Click that link and you’ll be led through the two-step process to enable your account. Or, click “Add an Account” for any new account you want to upload to Wesabe, and you’ll be prompted for your credentials if the account is supported.

Congratulations to Brian, Jeff, Andre, Sam, and Tim for all their work on this great release. The design of the feature and its simplicity are unmatched, and its great to be able to offer the ease of use we know people want. Let us know what you think!

Wesabe Firefox Uploader 2.0 Release (including Firefox 3.0 support!)

April 22, 2008

The Wesabe Firefox Uploader continues to be a very popular tool for working with Wesabe. Many of our members tell us that they love the Wesabe Dashboard, which shows you account balances, recent transactions, and pie and bar graphs of your spending. And, of course, it makes it very easy to automate uploads from nearly any financial institution — even smaller banks, credit unions, and credit cards that other sites refuse to support at all. While we are putting a lot of work into the upcoming Automatic Uploader release, we are planning to continue supporting the Firefox and Desktop Uploaders indefinitely.

Today I’m happy to announce the 2.0 release of the Firefox Uploader, which now supports Firefox 3.0 (beta 5 or, when future versions are released, later). Firefox 3.0 is looking to be a great revision, and we wanted to be fully ready to support it when it is released. Tim did a big overhaul of the Firefox Uploader to make it work with the newer Firefox code, and also allow it to support Firefox 2.0 in the same codebase. That way, you can upgrade your browser whenever you want, and still have the latest Firefox Uploader release.

Existing Account SetupAlso, some members have reported that when they switch from one upload method to another, sometimes a duplicate account is created. To avoid that, Tim added a new way to automatically associate a newly-added account with one of your accounts already on Wesabe. Give it a try and you’ll see that it makes this process a ton easier.

Congrats to Tim on the new release. Let us know what you think, and thanks for all the great feedback about the Firefox Uploader. By the way, Tim is speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco this Friday, talking about how to build Firefox extensions and about the work he did to support Firefox 3.0. If you’re at the Expo, go give him a pat on the back!

UPDATED: Scheduled downtime this Saturday night, Sunday night

April 18, 2008

We’re preparing for some big changes to the site, and as part of that preparation, we’ve scheduled downtime for Wesabe this Saturday, April 19th, starting at 8:00pm and ending Sunday morning at 4:00am, Pacific time. (To see the downtime period for your time zone, click here: start time to end time.) We’ll warn about the start of downtime on Twitter, and will post another tweet as soon as the site is back up. (You should follow Wesabe on Twitter to get all updates about the site — very useful and low-volume.)

With any large transition, things may go wrong or take longer than expected. We think it’s better to be up front about that possibility, so we’ve scheduled a fallback downtime for Sunday night, the 20th, again starting at 8:00pm and ending at 4:00am the next morning, Pacific time. If all goes well Saturday night, we will not use this time at all, but we wanted to alert you to the possibility.

Also, we’ll be taking our search system offline for upgrades during this transition. Search will not be enabled when the downtime is complete, but will instead be offline while we test and fix some of the issues many members have seen with it. We’ll post updates on search as soon as we have it stable and working in the new setup.

Again, follow us on Twitter to get all the updates as we go through this transition. Thanks much for your patience through this downtime, and look forward to a bunch of big improvements in the days and weeks to come.

UPDATE: The transition was mostly successful, and the site is up and stable. However, we did have some hardware trouble this morning, and we will be using some of the fallback downtime to fix it. We will be down tonight from 10:00pm to 2:00am, Pacific time. As before, follow us on Twitter to get updates about this. Thanks again for all your patience and support.

Wesabe Webby nomination!

April 8, 2008

WebbyWesabe is honored to be nominated for a 2008 Webby Award in the Banking/Bill Paying category. Thanks so much! It’s interesting that this year all of the nominees are startups — usually, well-established banks and credit cards get nominations. I think it says great things for the development of personal finance sites that so much great work is taking place, and getting so much attention. We’re very happy to be part of this fantastic movement.