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双语:Cracking the Vault
发布时间:2017年10月06日     Economist 译  
来源: 英语世界
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Cracking the Vault

撬开金库

 

The grip banks have over their customers is weakening

银行对其客户的控制力正在削弱

 

A few dollars spent at Starbucks, a monthly mortgage payment, a Netflix fee, Starbucks again: bank-account statements are not exactly exciting stuff. But there is gold hidden in this by-product of our financial lives, or so many budding technology firms believe. A host of startups crave access to the data and are pitching services, from budgeting apps to cheaper loans, to those who open their books to them. Yet banks worry that co-operating is the first step towards losing the lucrative grip they have on their customers.

 

在星巴克花了几美元,上月房贷还款,Netflix月费,又是星巴克……银行账单不是什么让人兴奋的东西,但这个伴随我们的金融生活出现的副产品却暗藏金矿,至少很多新兴科技公司这么认为。一大批创业公司渴望能获取这些数据,正在向对它们公开账单的客户推销从预算应用到低息贷款的各种服务。但银行却在担心,从这类合作开始,它们将渐渐失去对客户的掌控,而这种掌控给它们带来了丰厚的收益。

 

Squeezing insights out of a bank statement is hardly at the cutting edge of big data. Years of salary payments confirm stable employment; bounced cheques hint at carelessness; regular green fees suggest an interest in golf. Banks implicitly use balance and income information when making loan decisions. That has typically given them a leg up over such rivals as consumer-lending companies, which have to base offers of credit on less detailed information.

 

从银行账单解读出有见地的信息算不上是大数据中的前沿技术。年年有工资入账可以证明工作稳定,出现拒付退回的支票说明做事不细心,而经常支付果岭费则表明对高尔夫感兴趣。毋需明说,银行在审批贷款时会查阅客户的存款余额及收入状况。这一点往往使得银行在与消费信贷公司这样的对手竞争时占据优势,因为这些公司在提供贷款时没有那么详细的信息可做依据。

 

Add the fact that switching bank accounts is seen as a chore, and incumbents are in effect shielded from competition. But three things have changed in recent years. The first is the plethora of “fintech” competitors trying to take on banks. The second is internet banking, which has given nearly everyone access to reams of their own financial information in handy digital form. The third is regulation, which is swinging in favour of the upstarts by forcing banks to share the data generated by all those trips to the coffee shop.

 

再说,改换银行账户被视为一件麻烦事,银行因此得以免于竞争。但近几年出现了三个变化:一是众多“金融技术”公司试图与银行一争高低;二是网络银行业务让几乎所有客户都能以电子形式便捷地查看自己大量的财务信息;三是监管正朝着有利新贵们的方向转变,迫使银行共享那些诸如去咖啡店消费而产生的数据。

 

Data are already seeping out of banks’ digital vaults and, in the process, giving a sense of why such leaks are damaging. A slew of firms, such as Mint in America, offer to aggregate the data from customers’ various bank accounts, credit-card statements and retirement-savings plans in a single place. This gives customers a comprehensive view of their finances. Because these firms have a startup’s focus on being easy and appealing to use, their apps make most banks’ mobile offerings look clunky.

 

数据已经从银行的“数字金库”中渗漏出来,也让人体会到这样的信息泄漏为何具有破坏性。众多公司(如美国的Mint)可将客户在数家银行的账户、信用卡账单及退休金计划等所有数据聚合到一起,让客户对自己的财务状况有全面的了解。因为这些公司都像其他创业公司那样专注于让自己的应用变得简单易用又吸引人,相形之下,大多数银行的移动服务显得笨拙而繁琐。

 

Worse, banks’ efforts to sell multiple products to current-account holders are being undercut by the financial aggregators, which pitch financial products to customers using the data they have accumulated. “If we see you are paying 4% on your mortgage and there is a product in the market that would let you pay 2%, we think you will want to know about it,” says Joan Burkovic of Bankin’, a French aggregator. Your bank would rather you didn’t.

 

更糟糕的是,银行想要将多种产品兜售给活期存款账户持有人,却受到金融信息聚合公司低价竞争的冲击。那些公司利用所汇总的数据将金融产品推销给客户。法国信息聚合商Bankin’公司的琼·博克维奇说:“如果我们看到你支付的按揭利率是4%,而市面上有一款产品只要你付2%的利率,我们认为你一定想了解这款产品。”当然,你的银行可不希望你这么做。

 

Among the keenest potential users of personal bank data are peer-to-peer lenders, platforms that match those wanting to borrow money with those wanting to lend it. The likes of Zopa in Britain and Lending Club in America boast about their algorithms’ ability to sift good credit risks from bad ones. But the computer programs are only as good as the data fed into them. Information from credit bureaus is useful but limited. “Bank-account information is probably the most valuable data source for underwriting credit that isn’t in widespread use,” says Martin Kissinger from Lendable, a peer-to-peer firm.

 

最热切期望使用个人银行数据的包括撮合借贷双方的P2P网络借贷平台。英国的Zopa与美国的Lending Club这类公司都夸耀自己的算法能甄别信贷风险的高低。然而,计算机程序能有多大的用处取决于输入数据的质量。征信机构提供的信息虽然有用,但内容有限。P2P公司Lendable的马丁·基辛格指出:“在审批用途比较具体的贷款时,银行账户信息可能是最有价值的数据来源。”

 

Not only the balance and cashflow are interesting; individual transactions can be revealing, too. How much a small business pays in taxes, say, can give insight into its profitability months before it files its accounts, says Anil Stocker of MarketInvoice, a lending platform. Payments to and from directors, or refunds to customers, can also help gauge its financial health.

 

不只帐户余额和现金流很有趣,从一笔笔交易中也能看出端倪。比如,网络借贷平台MarketInvoice的阿尼尔·斯托克说,通过一家小企业纳税的情况就能洞悉其盈利状况,而且可以在它制作好报表的几个月前就能得知。研究董事们的往来账目或是给客户的退款也可以帮助判断公司的财务状况。

 

Banks are understandably hesitant to send their customers’ information to potential competitors, even with the customer’s consent. In America banks have long allowed customers to download their data to compile tax returns; that capability is now being jerry-rigged to feed into other services (Mint belongs to Intuit, a purveyor of tax software). Regulators compel British banks to allow customers to download data in a standard-format spreadsheet.

 

即使客户授权同意,银行也不太情愿将客户的信息拱手送给自己潜在的竞争对手,这可以理解。长期以来,美国的银行都允许客户下载自己的信息以便填写报税表,现在这一功能正被直接用于向其他服务提供数据(如前面提及的Mint就是税务软件供货商Intuit旗下的公司)。监管机构强制要求英国银行允许客户以标准格式的表格下载数据。

 

If banks are not willing or obliged to share, there are services that will retrieve current-account data without the bank’s approval. These startups ask customers to share their online banking passwords, in order to log into their accounts and copy and paste page upon page of online statements. Such “scraping” happens in a legal grey area. Banks moan about their terms of service being breached. British regulators frown upon it, for security reasons, making life difficult for would-be Mints; American regulators are said to be unhappy as well. Services such as Yodlee, a Californian outfit, offer to scrape or download bank records, whichever is least inconvenient.

 

如果银行不愿意或者不被迫共享数据的话,还有一些服务可以不经银行同意就能获取账户信息。这些创业公司让客户与其共享自己网上银行的密码,这样便可登录他们的账户,然后逐页复制、粘贴账单。这种“挖取”信息的做法是否合法尚难以界定。银行抱怨这样做违反了服务条款。而英国监管机构出于安全原因对此也并不支持,使得那些即将发展成又一家Mint的公司日子不好过。据称美国的监管机构对此也有不满。有的公司(如美国加州的Yodlee)提供银行记录获取服务,要么挖取要么下载,哪种做法最不费力就用哪种。

 

Platforms are wary of scraping: customers are understandably reluctant to hand over their passwords. Only people turned away for credit elsewhere (often for a reason) are likely to do so. Instead, aggregators often make do with data which are patchy or delayed. The likes of Zopa and Lending Club, for example, merely ask for smartphone snapshots of bank statements – a retrograde step, by fintech’s standards, and one that limits the insights they can gather.

 

网络借贷平台会慎用挖取这种做法,因为客户不大愿意提供密码,这很正常。只有那些在其他地方申请贷款遭拒的客户才可能愿意提供密码,而拒绝往往有其理由。因此,信息聚合公司时常勉强使用零散或延迟的数据。比如,像ZopaLending Club之类的公司只要求提供用智能手机拍摄的银行账单图片。按照金融技术标准看,这是种倒退,而且也限制了数据分析的深度。

 

Policymakers in Europe have concluded that forcing banks to share data at consumers’ request will yield big benefits for the banking public. Earlier this month the European Union adopted a directive on payment services, which will in effect force banks to impart data to third parties in a convenient format. Customers will also be able to authorise fintech firms to make payments from their bank accounts.

 

欧洲的政策制定者断定,迫使银行在消费者的要求下共享数据会给其他使用银行服务的大众带来很大的益处。本月早些时候,欧盟正式通过了一项支付服务规定,实际上就是迫使银行以便利的方式向第三方公开数据。客户也能够授权给金融技术公司从其账户里支付款项。

 

Banks say publicly they are open to the idea of more competition. Some are starting to release data more readily. But many fear they are fighting fintech with one hand tied behind their backs. Startups operate with the privacy mores of the technology sector; consumers opt in to their products, and so expect to be bombarded with ads. Banks are more like utilities, trusted to safeguard information rather than use it. When ING, a Dutch bank, last year mulled offering advertisers the opportunity to pitch to its customers based on their spending data, an outcry forced a quick reversal.

 

在公开场合,银行表示对更多竞争的理念持开放态度,有些银行已开始更主动地提供数据。但很多银行担心,他们是一只手被绑到背后来和那些金融技术公司竞争。创业公司采用科技领域里的隐私观念来运营,消费者主动选择使用他们的产品,因此见到铺天盖地的广告也不会奇怪。银行却更像是公用事业机构,受托来保护而非运用这些信息。去年荷兰银行ING集团打算允许广告商根据其客户的消费信息来向他们推销产品,结果招致强烈抗议,最后不得不迅速取消。

 

Having seen consumers desert their branches, banks now worry that customers will desert their apps and websites, too. Bosses glimpse a future where customers use banks merely as a utility, depositing their money there but using unregulated startups to manage it. Smoother data-sharing would make that a reality. It is a prospect that should indeed frighten bankers as much as it delights their customers.

 

银行目睹了消费者不再光顾其支行,现在又担心客户还会弃用银行的应用及网站。银行老板们隐约感到,未来客户只会把银行当成公用事业机构,在其中存钱,却由不受监管的创业公司来管理其财富。更加通畅的数据共享会推动这成为现实。如此前景会令客户兴奋不已,同时也着实会让银行业人士惶恐不安。


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