Bank of America, Citigroup, E*TRADE, TD Waterhouse and Corillian will help chart the future of Open Financial Exchange (OFX) as members of the Open Financial Exchange Consortium, an organization formed in 1998 by Microsoft, Intuit and CheckFree.
OFX is a protocol for exchanging information between financial institutions and consumers for use with personal financial management applications and electronic bill payment and presentment.
Currently, over 1,400 financial institutions worldwide have adopted OFX for their customers, including most of the big players in the U.S. "Only about 30 institutions address about 50% of consumer bank accounts out there," said Chris Jolley, director of marketing for CNBC on MSN Money. "Over 90% of the top 30 financial institutions already support OFX."
Given that sizable market, financial institutions and solution providers alike can stay ahead of the curve by keeping abreast of new developments in OFX. "By allowing people to contribute directly to the specification, it allows their own IT departments to better respond, because they know what changes are coming and they can decide ahead of time if they like the changes," said George Hu, OFX technical evangelist for Microsoft.
Corillian, a solution provider and extensive user Microsoft technology, also gets a head start on development. "They work with the banks and brokerages enough that they have a lot of ideas on what the format needs," said Hu. "They can also watch the changes we want to make, and they can be prepared to roll out these changes to banks and brokerages on a quicker basis."
Suggested changes will be incorporated into new versions of the OFX standard. For example, Citibank wanted to provide its customers with more than just a balance amount, and so worked towards adding data items to the OFX format including the date and amount of last payment, current interest rate and accrued interest.
The committee chairs of the steering committees in banking and brokerage will be able to add their votes in the decision-making process. Steering committees will also be able to decide which new members can join the OFX Consortium to represent their industries. "It's been pretty open in past years," said Hu.