HSBC is readying a mobile app that will allow customers to manage multiple accounts from different banks. "HSBC Beta" will support 21 money-keepers at launch, including Santander, Lloyds and Barclays, so users can review their current account, loans, mortgages and savings simultaneously. It's the first time a major UK bank has offered such a service. In August 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority declared that all banks would need to adopt "Open Banking" by early 2018, allowing this sort of functionality. Clearly, it's made a difference, though HSBC is keen to stress that it was working on the technology before the ruling.
Next month, HSBC Beta will be launched as an iOS app for roughly 10,000 customers. A general release, including an Android app, will follow in "early 2018." HSBC is calling it a "test and learn" platform where it can quickly try and adapt new ideas based on customer feedback. Initially, HSBC Beta will be an optional, complimentary service to the company's "core" banking app. But it could take on a larger role in the future. HSBC has additional features in the pipeline including Safe Balance, which shows how much disposable cash you have until payday, and Spend Analysis, which categorises purchases with helpful tags, notes and photos.
For HSBC, it's a chance to differentiate from its high-street bank competition. It's also a reaction to startups such as Atom, which are tempting customers with superior mobile apps and clear, actionable analytics. For now, these companies are a small threat, but if HSBC neglects its software they could quickly gain ground. Multiple account access will be a huge draw for people who regularly switch banks to take advantage of new deals. If HSBC can push that feature, while matching the functionality of apps like Monzo and Plum, it'll keep them at bay for years to come.