Frollo phases out screen scraping in favour of open banking

  • By Zilla Efrat

Australian open banking provider Frollo has disabled screen scraping for the Big Four banks in its free money management app where open banking is available and plans to do the same for at least 50 other banks before the end of 2022.

The company says improved security, user control and access to real-time transaction data make open banking a superior alternative to screen scraping.  

Frollo says the Big Four banks now support data sharing for over 30 different product types via open banking, providing the coverage required to operate a successful personal finance management app.

With screen scraping, a customer provides its banking app login credentials to a third-party provider which then sends a software robot to the bank's app or website to log in on behalf of the customer and retrieve data and/or initiate a payment.

“Phasing out screen-scraping is about much more than just the user experience in our app,” says Frollo CEO Tony Thrassis.

“It’s the start of a new era where consumers are in control of their own data, they can share it securely and their privacy is protected.

“The fact that we’re now able to deliver a superior user experience by relying solely on open banking for a number of products and providers is an important milestone for the Consumer Data Right (CDR).

According to Thrassis, more than eight out of 10 new accounts linked in the Frollo app are already using open banking. “We expect this to only increase as we progressively phase out screen scraping for other banks until it’s only used for banks and products not covered under the CDR,” he says.

He says the advantages of API-powered open banking were highlighted recently when NAB announced it was implementing increased security measures for online banking. These changes will protect from fraud and as a result, limit screen scraping for practical use.

By mid/late August, NAB will require customers to use multifactor authentication (MFA) when they log in.

“This will likely result in users of screen scraping-based apps having to input a new MFA code every time they want their app to update,” says Thrassis.

“And they’re not the first bank to do this. HSBC has long been unavailable through screen scraping, and Macquarie Bank recently implemented security improvements to a similar effect as NAB’s.”

Thrassis says Frollo’s research shows that consumers care a lot about their privacy and security when sharing financial information. Yet, many consumers share their banking ID and password with third parties to get access to products and services.

“Most consumers probably don’t even know who gets access to their credentials nor think about what they could do with that type of unrestricted access,” he says.

“It’s a familiar paradox also seen in other industries, with one big difference: Finance now has an alternative.

“It’s important to change the default, as soon as we can. And we’re starting today.”