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Bringing you the most reliable bank feed experience

single-ledger-EDM-1We’re taking another step towards a more reliable bank feed experience – by migrating all RBS/NatWest business accounts to direct feeds.

We launched our first direct bank feed in the UK with HSBC in 2009. None of the other UK banks were ready for direct feeds at this point, so this was a significant step forward for customers using HSBC accounts – having a direct feed into Xero brings a whole raft of efficiencies, so we’ve always planned to bring more direct feeds into the mix when it became possible to do so.

In 2010, Xero was the first online accounting provider to implement third-party Yodlee feeds for customers using other UK banks. So we’ve always been at the cutting edge of linking our customers’ accounting software with their business accounts. And now, with RBS and Natwest we’ve gone a step further.

Why are we changing to direct feeds?

In 2014, the good news is the UK banks are beginning to get their own data services up and running. And from a reliability and friction perspective, direct feeds are becoming more competitive with Yodlee feeds. So we’re very keen, as always, to bring you the most efficient bank feeds we can.

While the RBS/NatWest Yodlee feeds are among the most reliable, we’re confident we’ll see even more reliability with a direct feed and that has to be welcomed. Yodlee is still a great solution so we won’t be switching off Yodlee feeds for any RBS/NatWest account types that can’t be catered for by direct feeds.

How do I know if my account is a business current account?

The change applies only to RBS/NatWest business accounts, not to personal accounts. If you need to check which type of account you’re currently using, just speak to your bank and they’ll be able to confirm the type.

Alternatively, you can visit the RBS or Natwest pages in our Help Centre, download and complete an application form and we’ll let you know whether your account is a business account or not.

Is there a charge?

While the direct feeds do incur a charge per account (as they have done with HSBC since 2009), the cost is marginal compared with the benefit of reliable daily feeds. In time, and as more banks come on stream, we expect the forces of competition to drive down the cost. And Silicon Valley Bank direct feeds, that are coming online next month, are in fact free. So, that’s already starting to happen.

When will the change to direct feeds begin?

The change will start from today. Yodlee feeds will remain active for a while, but the sooner you move your business accounts to the new feed platform the better.

  • To make the transition as smooth as possible, Xero is absorbing the cost of all Yodlee to direct converted feeds until August 2015. So you won’t pay anything for the first year if you’re already using RBS/NatWest Yodlee feeds.
  • You can stay on the free feed until 1 August 2015 – but as the feed is being offered free to anyone with an existing feed, there’s no cost benefit to staying on the Yodlee feed.
  • From today, all new accounts on direct feeds will pay £3.50 for each account.

Where can I find out more information?

We realise that you’ll probably have some deeper technical questions about the move to direct feeds. So with this in mind, we’ve put together RBS and Natwest help pages to answer those questions.

You can also contact our UK bank feeds team on bankfeeds@xero.com if you have a specific query about the change.

Once you’re ready to move across to direct feeds, just fill out the online application form on the  RBS or Natwest pages in our Help Centre and send it through to us. Then we’ll do the rest.

We’re looking forward to moving to direct feeds and bringing you the most reliable bank feed experience we possibly can.

UPDATE – 14 August 2014

Please see today’s post for an update on RBS and NatWest direct feeds.

 

Read more about Company News

 

50 comments

Daniel Harris
12 August 2014 #

It’s not made clear by this article, and less so by the direct mail, why this change is considered desirable – the Yodlee feeds are perfectly reliable and free, so why would anyone want to change to a paid for service?

Jon Stacey
12 August 2014 #

That’s an increase of over £2100 per year in our Xero fees just for NatWest & RBS when these are the two banks whose feeds work perfectly well 95 % of the time…and that’s progress?

James Lizars
12 August 2014 #

I’m really pleased with this. I use the Yodlee feed personally, but can’t bring myself to *advise* clients that they should. I won’t stir up the classic debate about approved vs unapproved feeds. It’s just nice to be able to present more options to clients considering joining up.

John Lees
12 August 2014 #

I echo the first two responses – this is an outrageous move with no prior notification or warning ! At £3.50 per bank account fee, most people are going to be paying a lot more. I have feeds for a sterling current account and credit card as well as a euro current account and debit card – are you seriously telling me that I will have to pay another £14 a month – almost half the monthly subscription? Why can’t we stay on the current free service ?

Carl
12 August 2014 #

£3.50 per month per feed or a one off £3.50 per month. Like the other commenters I have no problem with my current natwest feed. It works and always has so your fantastic upgrade which improves nothing for me but costs extra?

Simon Fisher
12 August 2014 #

I further echo the other comments. The Yodlee feeds are perfectly reliable, provide all that is required and are free of charge (or rather part of the existing subscription). Where is the increased ease and efficiency you claim for the end-user ? All I can see is additional revenue for Xero.

This is no more than an attempt to bring in through the back-door a 17.5% price rise (assuming a single feed and the standard package). By all means provide the option for direct feeds and charge for it, but but do not remove the option for existing users who find the existing service quite adequate.

This is poor business ethics.

Ollie C
12 August 2014 #

Direct feeds suck. I saw no reliability problems with Yodlee and now I’m forced to pay £111 a year to HSBC for no benefit and with no choice. It irritates me every time I get a Xero invoice, and it most certainly is not a “marginal cost” (it adds 30% to my Xero cost) nor does it bring any efficiencies to my business. I hate direct feeds and I would much prefer to go back to Yodlee.

Daniel Harris
12 August 2014 #

And before Xero come back and say ‘ohh its a charge the bank made’ … let us the banks’ customer have that relationship directly with them then … then we can tell the bank’s where to go directly.

Craig Tribe
12 August 2014 #

Like most of the other comments I cannot see the advantage of this to us users. Also it only covers the current account and so the credit card feed will still come from Yodlee. The choice should be optional or there should be no charge as with Yodlee.

Matt Vickers
12 August 2014 #

Thanks for your feedback.

- Although Yodlee feeds for RBS and Natwest have worked well recently, longer-term Xero users may remember that this wasn’t always the case. Nor can we be sure they’ll continue to be reliable if the bank make changes to online banking or attempts to block access. With this change, we are more confident that we can provide you that assurance.
- Though the £3.50 per account charge is levied by us, this is to cover the cost levied to us by the bank. In essence, we pass all money we receive for these feeds to RBS and NatWest.
- Our aim is that the main UK banks will eventually offer direct feeds for free.
- Only new RBS and NatWest accounts set up from today will incur the cost – not existing accounts. If you have existing Yodlee feeds for RBS/NatWest accounts, you have a whole year to move to a direct feed – until August 2015. Until then you will pay nothing additional for those accounts.
- Xero is covering the costs of moving to direct feeds from existing Yodlee feeds for a year – until August 2015.

Daniel Harris
12 August 2014 #

Matt, to be clear then is Xero’s position that customers of RBS/Natwest MUST use the direct bank feed post August 2015? Is there a technical reason why the Yodlee feed that most appear to be satisfied with cannot continue to be operated?

As I pointed out previously, let the banks charge us the customer directly – then we can pressure them to remove the charge more effectively that you.

Matt Vickers
12 August 2014 #

Hi @Daniel – if you have a business current account with Natwest or RBS, yes, you should move to direct feed by August 2015. We cannot guarantee continued availability for that account type beyond that date.

Although I take your point on being charged by the bank directly, we weren’t able to secure that as an option.

Dom Ahern
12 August 2014 #

Yes, this is a BS explanation. How can the bank be charging Xero for something they never charged Yodlee for? It doesn’t make sense. Just Xero being greedy and adding extra cost in for no extra value. The main value in the Xero subs was the bank feeds and now it’s not even included, like Ryanair charging extra for a flight check in. I hate this type of pricing model that tries to trick customers. It destroys trust.

Ollie C
12 August 2014 #

This is a specious justification from Xero. It makes no sense to say the feed charges are nothing to do with Xero. First Xero collects the fees, and second Xero negotiated the price not me. In fact when I’ve asked HSBC about the fees they have no idea what I’m taking about. I strongly object to Xero forcing me to pay these extra fees, whilst trying to blame the bank, when I cannot see a single benefit to direct feeds.

Matt Vickers
12 August 2014 #

Hi @Ollie – RBS and Natwest do not have a formal arrangement with Yodlee, and therefore there had not been a cost associated, but nor had continued supply been able to be completely assured. We think it’s important you can receive feeds both now and into the future.

Secondly, I can assure you that in this case, and with HSBC, we are only passing on what we are charged. When banks supply data directly, this may generate maintenance costs for them, and banks sometimes choose to recover their costs in this way. Although we’d prefer to not to have to pass on a fee, sometimes we must in order to make a service viable.

Sandra Hunter
12 August 2014 #

Makes me glad to be in NZ where all the bank feeds are free and every bank supplies them……………..It is good to hear that at least one bank plans to make them free. I think eventually competition will mean that other banks will follow suit.

Linda Pentland
12 August 2014 #

This makes Xero an expensive option that i am now embarrassed to have recommended to my clients.

Mark Howitt
12 August 2014 #

My experience of using the direct feed from HSBC is that it is unreliable with barely a week going by without transactions omitted or duplicated. On the other hand the Yodlee feeds for RBS and NatWest work perfectly.

Most of my RBS / NatWest clients have two bank accounts plus a credit card so they will now have to pay an additional £10.50 per month for a vastly inferior service, this on top of across-the-board subscription increase at the end of 2013. Not impressed and now less likely to recommend Xero to new clients or convert existing ones. The comparison above with Ryanair is spot on.

Dom A
12 August 2014 #

The banks are not supplying any more data than they do anyway, with or without feeds. Would love a proper explanation of what HSBC/ NatWest / RBS are charging and why….

James M
12 August 2014 #

Agree with all the posters here that its a poorly positioned release from xero. Zero extra benefit to the customer over the existing FREE service (and they know it). Also sending an application form rather than an online process?? Just lots of spin. I sense a start of it all as at some stage they need to start making a profit now customer base is of the size it is.

Tony Coyle
12 August 2014 #

I’ll add my two cents, having had the same conversation with Xero by e-mail. Why change from a free feed to a paid for feed for access to my statement data with no extra benefit? Unless what’s not being said is that Yodlee will be forced out of the market in time by Natwest et al. Suggest you re-think this one Xero – its nuts. Come Aug 2015 I bet you’ll see free feeds from Natwest.

Nigel
12 August 2014 #

@Matt – I think this is progress, as i didn’t want to risk my bank login credentials via Yodlee feeds.

The cost is high though, and presumably you are paying Yodlee for the feeds at the moment.

You say your aim is to bring other UK banks on board for no additional cost to your customers. Please could you update us on who you are talking to, who is interested in a free model, and when they might go live?

Heather Smith
12 August 2014 #

During our Xero journey, my clients and I have gone directly to the banks to raise issues with them – such as this – and surprisingly I’ve seen adoption and evolution by the banks here in Australia, even the smaller ones.

I’d suggest the same to anyone having issues with the bank integration.

Matt Vickers
12 August 2014 #

Hi @Nigel – Yes, we aim to bring more UK banks on board, but I’m afraid that until we have formal agreements in place, who we’re talking to, what it might cost and when they might go live are all commercially sensitive pieces of information. What I can share is that we’re in active discussions with most major UK banks.

Simon Fisher
12 August 2014 #

Matt, I note the comment that you are merely passing on the charge from the bank, presumably however there are some cost savings here to Xero as regards Yodlee ?

The earlier reply about past issues is not pertinent. NatWest feeds, from my experience, work very well and are reliable. Direct feeds will bring no additional benefit but a material, in relative terms, cost.

A charge of £ 3.50 pm for an automated technical feed appears exorbitant. Xero appear to have carried out no VFM analysis here on behalf of their customers.

I see no reason why both Yodlee and direct feeds cannot continue to be made available as options, there is nothing wrong with choice. I suspect most would however continue with the free Yodlee feeds.

This is very poor show.

Gail Bainbridge
12 August 2014 #

I welcome the live feeds but like others are irritated by the additional costs that we will be forced to pass onto clients. I have emailed my relationship manager at Natwest to let them know that I think that the fees are too much and that Xero is aimed at their SME market and they should be supporting these businesses to help them have better financial information. Perhaps as professional advisors we should all be contacting Natwest and getting our customers to do the same.

Joseph Heenan
12 August 2014 #

I echo Simon’s question: How much will this move save Xero in payments to Yodlee?

Our accountants figured out it was actually cheaper for them to pay someone to manually import the statements than to use the Xero feeds, so that’s what they do.

The state of bank integration in Xero is really very poor in my opinion, especially given the level of charges.

Why are the feeds not live? (ie. always up to date)

Why can we not pay invoices in Xero and have the payment scheduled at the bank automatically?

(I realise much of this is due to the slowness that IT systems in banks move at, in fact it probably just goes to prove that our current bank system really isn’t a competitive market.)

Mark Howitt
12 August 2014 #

I have now had a chance to look at my clients and have realised that I have a few who are on the Starter Plan and have two RBS bank accounts. This will mean their monthly subscription will rise from £9 to £16.

I don’t think people at Xero realise how difficult it can be to persuade some clients to move over to Xero. A 78% increase for no added benefit whatsoever is an impossible sell and will I suspect result in some clients reverting to spreadsheets. Embarassing for me too as I have been recommending RBS as the feeds are reliable & accurate and included in the subscription price.

It’s hard to believe that the actual cost to RBS of providing a feed is £3.50 per account per month and in any case the current arrangement with Yodlee works perfectly. For the last two years I have sung the praises of Xero to anyone who will listen but this smacks of Xero increasing profits at the expense of the smallest businesses. “Online,simple, smart & magical”? Three out of four ain’t bad I suppose.

Daniel Harris
12 August 2014 #

But Gail, your comment makes little sense – the live feeds are available from Yodlee!

To Nigel (comment-140297), thousands have ‘risked’ the login details with Yodlee without AFAIK any incident to date? Were there to be a breach of Yodlee’s security, do you really think you’d be liable for any loss?

It sounds to me like there is no point in ‘signing’ up for the year free as all that guarantees is that Xero will charge for the feeds in the future. There is no reason given why the Yodlee feeds won’t continue to work, and nothing concrete from RBS/Natwest to suggest that they intend to prevent Yodlee from continuing to be able to access the accounts. I therefore intend to carry on as usual.

John Lees
12 August 2014 #

To Carl – had confirmation this morning that its £3.50 per account feed per month which is a staggering price increase. Also have been told that credit card accounts will not be supported by direct Natwest feeds. So @Matt Vickers, there seems little point in changing – please tell us what happens after Aug 2015 if we decide not to move and stay as we are (as @Daniel says)?
Lastly I totally agree with previous viewpoints from posters that Xero seem to be adopting the Ryanair approach – is this really what Xero what to become known for ? It will destroy their reputation very quickly if they continue along this route.

Esther
12 August 2014 #

As an accountancy practice we control the Xero subscriptions on behalf of our clients (as I’m sure many of you do).

I found out today that our clients with RBS or Nat West bank accounts have been sent the bank feed email directly. If they print and return the form (without speaking to us first) the additional costs will be automatically added to our practice subscription account without us being informed.

Shocked!

Jon Stacey
12 August 2014 #

@danielharris – our thoughts exactly

Mark Howitt
12 August 2014 #

With apologies for posting a third time but …

One of the great things about introducing new clients to Xero is the bank feeds. At the first meeting I have been able to show them around the system and no matter how fantastic we all think Xero is that’s not hugely interesting to most clients. What really impresses them is if there-&-then you can get their bank feed up-&-running. It takes at most 5 minutes and that usually prompts a “Wow!” For new clients who have RBS & NatWest accounts I can’t do that now: I have to fill in a paper form, post it and wait at least 10 days before the bank feed works. All in all, a bit rubbish.

Matt Vickers
12 August 2014 #

Hi @Gail – thanks for your comment. Please do let us know how you get on.

Sarah Verge
13 August 2014 #

I’ve moved two of my businesses to Xero (one from Sage 50 Accounts and the other from QuickBooks) and the free bank feeds are what made me choose Xero rather than KashFlow, which I’d used previously elsewhere. The Yodlee feed has been incredibly reliable and I cannot see what benefits I’ll get for the extra £28 a month I’ll be paying. Where’s the added value? Where’s the choice?

Jonathan Rowden
13 August 2014 #

It is disappointing to find that Xero, after promising so much, have started down the path followed by that other four letter word accounting software supplier based in the north of England.

In addition to being a silver partner we also bank with NatWest. Sadly (and more than a little surprisingly) the first we get to hear about the bank feed development is from a client who is less than pleased with the exciting news from Xero and wants to know their options and is more than a little surprised that we knew nothing about it.

We spoke to our account manager (who is now working hard to get answers) and his guidance to us is not totally in line with the Xero spokesman on this thread; so we and our clients are no further forward.

Oh, and guess what, a new client is currently in the office setting up their account on Xero and NatWest (having sold them yesterday on the great relationship between us, Xero and NatWest). We are busy trying not to look like complete idiots as they ask us the questions about the future of bank feeds that we cannot answer.

Nigel
13 August 2014 #

@Daniel Harris – Yes I definitely feel that if my bank account got emptied because Yodlee got hacked then my bank would not refund the money. With organisations from eBay, to Evernote to the European Central Bank getting hacked this year I don’t want the risk.

So import manually at present, and welcome the progress towards feeds that are compliant with the banks terms and conditions.

@Matt Vickers – Is the Co-operative Bank being spoken with?

IanD
13 August 2014 #

Personally not very happy with the idea of a 26% hike in my Xero subscription. Then I read the form small print … I’m sure it’s all lovely and secure but:

I/We understand that my/our personal data and information will be transferred outside the EEA (including to New Zealand) for the purpose of Xero Limited and its subcontractors processing my/our data in order to provide the Xero services provided that it is given adequate security and confidentiality protection. I/we understand that no agency, partnership, joint venture or any other type of similar relationship exists between the Bank and Xero Limited and the Bank accepts no responsibility for the actions of Xero Limited, my/our advisors or any third party.

So are you really any more protected by a direct feed? Personally I’d prefer to pay what I was paying before and use what I was using before.

Time to look at other options I suppose…..

Rod Drury
13 August 2014 #

Thank you all for your comments.

Xero has been a pioneer in getting banking connected to accounting. We believe it’s one of the biggest contributions we’ve made to the accounting industry as it is such an improvement and gets small businesses up to date everyday eliminating the ‘catch up’ trying to process the books over the weekend.

We have swallowed the costs where it made sense and have made minimal changes to Xero pricing over 8 years. We spend many millions on bank feeds every year.

The UK is now wakening up to bank feeds as we have become the online leader with over 50,000 UK customers. It has taken years of meetings to get these feeds.

We have no desire at all to make money out of feeds. In more mature markets they are trending to zero. We are working with modern banks on Automated Provisioning of feeds, Payment Webservices and low cost/no cost bill pay. We have invested a heap of time and money into this and are having an impact globally.

Obviously we cannot absorb these high fees ourselves. So we are charging exactly what we get charged. No margin. If feeds are free to us, we do not charge.

We are also arguing that the banks should continue to allow Yodlee connections so customers have a choice.

BankFeeds are new to the UK. If you are upset talk to your bank. The more they hear the quicker they’ll understand and the link between banking and accounting will be better. You can be sure they will read all this feedback. I think they simply have not seen how much cloud accounting is changing things and this feedback will be very useful to them.

Some of the comments above are out of line. Xero has proven itself to be an ethical business that listens, responds and looks after it’s customers. We have been that way for 8 years. Maybe you’re not used to that but we think it’s common sense and that is how we roll.

We are about innovation and making life easier for small businesses and their advisers. We continue to work hard to be awesome.

Jon Stacey
13 August 2014 #

Rod – thanks for your reply. Most of the angst from my clients is aimed at the banks. The issue is really that they have already paid for access to their data through their bank charges for online banking and other services. The banks are then taking advantage of a request from Xero, to them a third party, to charge again for the same data.

At the same time the banks are becoming increasingly driven by the need to turn data into information that they can make decisions on. To do this they should be encouraging access to raw banking information and making it freely available so that they can ensure that clients have no excuses to not have up to date information. Xero provides the key to this for the majority of our clients. It’s just disappointing that banks don’t see the big picture of open access to your own data that would provide the perfect platform for better decision making for both customers and bank managers.

And by the way, I don’t think that it was clear to some that Xero has been paying for the Yodlee feeds themselves to encourage uptake…nothing’s free in this world but it’s worth fighting hard for access to the data by contacting your local and regional banking people and making the point that they need to stand up too.

John Lees
13 August 2014 #

@ Rod Drury. Thanks for your comments but as others have posted, if the free service is available after August 2015, why can’t we continue to use it at our risk ?
Here’s the question I asked Xero yesterday:
“Sorry your answer appears to be contradictory – please can I read this back to you to ensure I have it correctly..

A. From 1/8/2015, Xero will block the Yodlee feed that I am currently using for my Natwest current account and require me to move to the paid direct feed subscription of £3.50 per month. There is no possibility of me continuing with the free Yodlee current account feed after this date. Correct or not?
B. From 1/8/2015, my free Yodle feed for my credit card account will continue to function until such time as Xero offers a direct feed and then A. will apply to that account as well? Correct or not?”

The response was “Hi John Sorry for any confusion. Both A and B are correct.”

Seems pretty clear to me that I won’t have choice, I can’t negotiate direct with Natwest on this so my subscription will go up to provide something I already had and wont give me any more perceived benefit. In common with lots of others, its going to alter my perception of Xero and make it difficult for me to recommend you to others as I have been been doing. A radical re-think is really required on this one guys before you loose a lot of good will.

Joseph Heenan
13 August 2014 #

@Rod Drury / Xero: Whilst you say “talk to your bank”, talking to our account managers or first line support is usually frustrating and useless as they have no idea about this service.

Can you provide us with contacts at HSBC, Natwest & RBS that we can provide feedback to, or some other suggestion on how to effectively contact the bank?

Richard dyer
13 August 2014 #

The only real benefit at the moment then is an ‘official’ feed, and with three sterling accounts, and four international then that’s about 25quid a month more to run Xero – a cost we will have to stomach.

I wonder though if there are any plans to make the feed two way, like what some of the aus accounts are now doing if I remember rightly. Introduction of facilities like that would far out weigh the cost

Adam Sanders
13 August 2014 #

@Rod

Despite your pleading to the contrary, you’re not listening.

We want the option of keeping Yodlee feeds. When we signed up to Xero free feeds was functionality that what we had. There is no reason why you should not and can not continue to provide them.

If your deal with RBS was to the contrary and said you can’t provide it, walk away from the deal. I don’t think your customers want it.

Direct feeds may be more secure and more reliable, but for the majority of us, they offer **less** functionality – the feeds are not live, they only update once a day.

Credit is due however to Silicon Valley Bank for providing the feeds for free. It’s certainly made me think whether Natwest are the right people for us.

Paul K
14 August 2014 #

Why hasn’t Xero flexed its supposed muscle to influence the banks to drop/lower the feed costs?
Couldn’t you find a bank that will actually introduce direct feeds at no cost and show this to RBS, Natwest, HSBC?
“Here’s Bank A which will not charge our users for direct bank feeds, and we will make our SME business users all too aware of which banks charge and which don’t so that they can decide who they bank with in future”.

Matt Vickers
14 August 2014 #

Hi everyone, please see our latest update on RBS and NatWest feeds. http://www.xero.com/blog/2014/08/rbs-natwest-direct-feeds-update/

Bob Harper
15 August 2014 #

I am sure you telling the banks that accountants will actively support them via Xero if they offer/enable free feeds?

A change of accounting software is a great time to look at and change banks.

Rod Drury
15 August 2014 #

While my hair is still blown back from all that venting, super cool that your feedback helped us improve the situation.

http://www.xero.com/blog/2014/08/rbs-natwest-direct-feeds-update/

Ollie C
19 August 2014 #

Although I greatly appreciate Xero taking customer feedback seriously, the improvements put in place do not seem to affect me as my business banks with HSBC UK. It’s highly unsatisfactory that Xero is “a great online bookkeeping system, but if you bank with HSBC you get to pay 30% more in bank tax” (in my case at least with three accounts at £3/mo each and two Xero accounts, just looking at one business the bank feeds add 60% to the cost of using Xero. Perhaps if Xero put the bank feed pricing prominently on their web site these banks might realise how damaging this pricing is. It’s frustrating having bank feeds from two banks with one free and being reamed by the other one, and with little ability to influence it.

Xero suggested we contact our banks and press them on these bank feed charges. I did and here’s what happened when I called HSBC UK:

Call 1. Call centre told me to hold, left me waiting, then unceremoniously dumped me into the queue for “HSBCnet”, where no-one knew what I was talking about or what Xero was.
Call 2. I called back, the call centre tell me they can definitely help, and then proceed to put me through to someone whose response to my succinct description of direct bank feeds was to say it sounds very complicated and they don’t know about such technical things. They do however confirm Xero appears to have set up HSBCnet on my bank account as part of the bank feeds integration.
I call HSBCnet. They ask me for the code off my authentication device, which I provide. They then tell me it’s not an HSBCnet auth code. I tell them I do not have an HSBCnet auth code. They refuse to speak to me until I provide my HSBCnet user account details. There is no such user account in my name, deadlock. They suggest I speak to my Relationship Manager, I’ve no idea who or where they are.
Call 3. I call HSBC UK again and ask to speak to my relationship manager. I’m told I don’t have one. I’m told to get one I have to speak to the HSBCnet team.
Call 4, as my time on the phone passes the 1hr mark…. I called back and the call centre staffer said they’d speak to HSBCnet and get answers to my questions. After a 10min wait I was told they won’t speak to me, and the call centre offer to “send an email” (we’ve all heard that one before!) and I’d get a message back via the call centre as the team don’t speak to customers directly. I declined as I have no faith I’d ever hear from them again. I was told I could not speak to a relationship manager directly as there isn’t one, or that they aren’t available (depending on who I was talking to). Relationship managers are salespeople, I find it remarkable that after 1.5hrs on the phone and I still can’t speak to one. The HSBCnet team can only provide technical support, they say they have no access to billing and cannot discuss why certain charges are levied for HSBCnet services.
I escalated the call to a manager who was just as unhelpful, had no idea about Xero or HSBCnet and repeated the offer to “send an email” on my behalf, whilst failing to explain why it was not possible to put a relationship manager on the phone. I accepted her offer as there was no alternative available.
Total call time: 2hrs3mins. Achievements unlocked: None.

So when Xero says we should talk to our banks about bank feed pricing and encourage them to provide the service free, is this really what they want their customers to go through? I could move bank, but a) it’s an enormously painful and disruptive process for us and our customers, and b) other than bank feed charges I don’t need to (ie the others are as crappy). I can’t help but think Xero provided the banks with a new revenue opportunity with bank feeds, and why would the banks now cut the price when they’ve hooked us? The problem is that the banks aren’t the customer in this scenario, Xero is, and so as we’re not paying the fees to the bank we have very limited influence, even if we can get as far as having a conversation with them.

Interestingly I noticed whilst on hold that the HSBCnet pricing includes Service Level 4 providing “View only access for domestic HSBC accounts” – that sounds rather like bank feeds to me, and the price? It’s free. So why if HSBCnet can deliver transaction data for free is HSBC forcing customers to pay £3 per account for bank feeds through HSBCnet into Xero? http://www.hsbcnet.com/gbm/attachments/products-services/transaction-banking/welcome-bib/id-english-faq.pdf

Direct feeds still look, taste and feel like a tax to me. I would like Xero to swallow all the feed charges and carry them as a business cost and to lead the drive to get the costs down because as far as I can see I have close to zero influence over my bank – I can’t even discuss the pricing with them after two hours of trying.

Ollie C
20 August 2014 #

After speaking to I nine people at HSBC yesterday, I spoke to a relationship manager today who told me that although he knew about Xero and bank feeds, the reasoning for the pricing for Xero bank feeds through HSBCnet was above his pay grade, that he had no influence over it, that he had no idea why it was charged when other banks provide it free, that the costs are “between HSBC and Xero”, and he also couldn’t explain how HSBCnet Service Level 4 (which provides transaction data in read-only form) was free whereas Xero banks feeds are £3 a month per account. He was unable to offer anything in terms of reducing the fees, simply “passing on your feedback”. The impression I have is HSBC are charging these fees because most customers are to some degree held hostage by the difficulty in switching banks, and have no appetite for removing these fees, which they appear to see as reflecting a premium service. At times it almost sounded like Xero negotiated the fee level with them – certainly they gave the impression the fees were agreed with Xero, and if Xero pass them on to me “that’s between you and Xero”, i.e. “you’re not paying us, we don’t want to talk to you about it”.

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