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Wave works with a specialist provider of secure bank data connections to offer you the ability to import your bank transaction data. We believe data connections are a huge asset when it comes to your bookkeeping. However, with over 15,000 connected banks, it's no surprise that at any time a few may be experiencing connection problems. And unfortunately, since the connections are handled by a third party, many of the issues with bank connections are outside of Wave’s immediate control.
If your bank won't connect, or won't stay connected, read on to learn more about how bank connections work, and what alternatives are available.
Whose data is it anyway?
The money in your bank account is yours, so data about your transactions is yours too — right?
Well, we think so. But a lot of banks are not so keen on making your data available for you to use in whatever software you choose. (Let's face it, the main opportunity banks have to sell you stuff is when you log in to your online bank, so why would they want to help you log in less often?)
Fortunately, regulators in many regions are also clear that data about your bank transactions should be yours to use in whatever way you choose. In the US the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has published new Principles For Consumer-Authorized Financial Data Sharing and Aggregation. In Europe, the EU Revised Payment Services Directive which came into force in 2018 is seen as a game-changer, that will break your bank's strangle-hold on your data. In Australia, the government’s public Productivity Commission inquiry into Data Availability published its report in May 2017 and concluded that fundamental change is needed to free up access to data.
Change is coming that will improve your freedom to access data about your bank transactions in your own choice of software, and banks are going to have to adjust. Right now, however, there are no standards for how bank data is made available in North America, and extracting data on your behalf is a very complex and specialist process.
How does Wave get my bank data?
The first thing to understand is that Wave does not access your bank directly. Until regulators force the banking industry to implement common, open standards for customers to have access to their data, it is left to a small number of specialist bank data integrators to provide a way of reaching your data. In some cases, these integrators have been able to negotiate formal access to a specially created APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) provided by the bank, but often access is via the same online banking portal that you use when you log in.
Wave's bank data integration partner is called Plaid. Plaid is one of the largest companies in this space, counting hundreds of innovative fintech companies amongst its clients.
When you connect your bank account to import transactions into Wave, Plaid makes the connection to your bank. Wave can't make payments or move money in your accounts through this connection. It is solely for importing transaction data.
My bank won't connect. What gives?
Through Plaid, Wave is able to receive data from over 15,000 banks and financial institutions. With this number of banks connected, however, there will always be a number of connections that are not working. This could happen for many different reasons:
- Your bank's anti 'bot' security defences could be accidentally blocking the connection.
- Your bank could have changed some feature of its API.
- Your bank could have changed the layout or flow of screens in its online banking portal, disrupting the automated system Plaid uses to pull information.
Even if nothing has changed about your bank's online banking portal or software, something as simple as an advertisement, announcement, or message that appears when you log in could be preventing access.
In addition to these bank-specific issues, other common causes of connection problems include:
- When first attempting to connect, your username or password is incorrect.
- After a successful first connection, you have changed your password and your connection in Wave needs to be updated.
- Your password has not changed, but your bank also asks for 'memorable data' when you log in. In this case, you could need to connect multiple times via Wave before Plaid's systems know all your memorable data and are able to continue connecting successfully for you.
So how do I get my connection working (again)?
We listed above some of the main things that can cause a disruption to your bank connection. Some are issues with the bank itself, and others may relate to your individual account.
In practice, there's not much you can do to influence how your bank works with Plaid when there's a general issue, but you should certainly follow these troubleshooting steps to make sure there is nothing wrong with your own connection information. Often, stopping and re-connecting your account connection may be all that is needed.
If you've tried the troubleshooting steps detailed and your account still won't connect, it's really just a matter of waiting. Plaid knows which of its bank integrations are generating errors at any particular time, and works to fix these as fast as it is able.
When should I contact Wave?
Problems connecting bank accounts are an industry-wide problem. Other financial software may work with other integrators, or even directly with some banks. At any time, Wave and other software providers that use Plaid may have issues with some banks that are working fine with customers of another integrator. Other software providers may be having issues with banks that are currently working fine on Wave.
Wave updates Plaid on a regular basis about the success rate of connections we see with each bank, but we do not determine the priority that Plaid gives to fixing problems with any particular institution, and cannot investigate issues with your individual bank account. Unfortunately, we also cannot advise when issues with any particular bank may be fixed — whatever Plaid's current work plan to fix connections to your bank may be, problems could always arise with another bank that they consider a higher priority, causing work on yours to be delayed.
Because we cannot investigate individual account connection problems, and cannot influence how Plaid works to resolve issues, please:
- Do not contact Wave concerning difficulties making or keeping a connection to your bank account. Simply follow the troubleshooting steps and be prepared to use another method to load transactions if these do not work.
- Do contact Wave if your bank is connecting successfully but you are seeing an issue with the imported transactions, for example, if amounts appear wrong, the same transaction is importing multiple times, or you are seeing income transactions imported as expenses or vice versa. These are problems that Wave is likely to be able to resolve via its own systems.
So how do I get transactions if my bank won't connect?
While an automated bank connection is probably the most convenient way to get your data into Wave, uploading data using our Bank Transaction Imports is quick and easy. Just follow these simple steps:
- Sign in to your bank’s internet banking portal
- Download transactions for the date range that you want to import. If your bank offers a choice of export formats, select Microsoft Money, Quicken, Quickbooks or Simply Accounting format. Wave also can import data in CSV (comma separated values) format if none of the above are offered.
- Import your data into Wave!
Click here for an article that explains in detail how to import transactions.
What else can I do?
Talk to your bank!
Seriously. Complain in the branch. Post on Twitter. Write a letter to the CEO.
Let them know it’s your data, and you want to access it the way you choose!
For years, controlling customer data has been a key strategy for banks. It’s how they “own” their relationship with you; how they are better placed than competitors to market other products to you. Your bank is in no hurry to make it easy for you to use your data in Wave or any other system. Regulatory pressure is helping, but don’t discount the power of individual customers standing up to say they are not happy; to demand change.
And if you can’t change your bank… well… maybe change your bank!