Remember the “friend based” idea? Well, in order to work properly, one party — either the customer or the bank — would invite and the other would then accept. I know you’re mumbling that we do that right now with account aggregation. Well, sort of, but not really. There’s no “accept” in account aggregation, and the idea of sharing my user name and password with a website, no matter WHO runs it, is off-putting to me … and I suspect to most others, as well. But there is a technology solution on the way.
A new system called “Open Authentication” will soon allow a second “read-only” level of access to most accounts. Problem solved. Once the relationship is established, all correspondence, statements, etc. will be delivered by the bank to MY-SUPER-PORTAL. The bank loves this because they just slashed the cost of printing and mailing millions of statements. They save so much that they’re actually willing to pay for the right to push documents into MY-SUPER-PORTAL. The environment wins because we kill fewer trees, and I win because now I have a single place for ALL records and documents. And it’s a “set and forget” model.
But social networking can enhance MY-SUPER-PORTAL even more. As a client, I can choose “friends” from among a list of lawyers, accountants, insurance brokers, financial planners, etc. Once I invite a relationship and that relationship is accepted (remember that the “invite and accept” model works BOTH ways!), I can begin to “share” certain select parts of my document store with certain select individuals or firms. Also note that each of these relationships are “invite and accept” and therefore controllable on either end. I can unilaterally change or terminate any relationship at any time.
As much as we’d like to believe that none of our clients will ever leave us, the fact is that they do. They want, and frankly deserve, the right to leave when they so choose. That’s why this model is end-user controlled. If it’s vendor-based or firm-based, it can’t build the critical mass required to survive.
Remember that all of the documents currently delivered in paper form started as digital and were then converted to analog and delivered to our clients where they are aggregated and delivered to US to somehow convert BACK to digital and then input for tax compliance, etc. With MY-SUPER-PORTAL, those files could be accepted in their digital form for computers as well as their paper (PDF) form for humans. And the “scan & populate” crowd could go directly to developing “direct populate” applications. What tax and accounting firm wouldn’t happily pay a few dollars to have ALL of a client’s data gathered, organized and readied for automatic input?
As the platform (or “community”) grows, so grows the value. It’s a very simple “the more, the merrier” model. Every firm encourages its clients, they in turn encourage their banks, who encourage their customers, who encourage their attorneys, who encourage … well, you get the picture. It’s a virtuous cycle.
So there you have it — LaFollette’s Folly. A vision for social networking applied and solving a multitude of problems. Admittedly, the problems aren’t curing cancer or ending war, but they are bothersome. And technology can help.
Developers — on your marks, get ready, set, and go!
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P.S. A good working model of this concept is Google Health. They have added individuals, their physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, etc. — all interconnected and sharing data, but only that data that should be shared and then only with those with whom it should be shared. It's sort of MY-SUPER-MEDICAL-PORTAL.COM!!
And stay tuned for big changes during the busy season! While it’s heads
down time for you, it’s “plan and prepare” season for us.
Look for us next spring!!!