Month: November 2016

Let’s give some @VRM help to the @CFPB

cfpbThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (@CFPB) is looking to help you help them—plus everybody else who uses financial services.

They explain:

Many new financial innovations rely on people choosing to give a company access to their digital financial records held by another company. If you’re using these kinds of services, we’d love to hear from you…

Make your voice heard. Share your comments on Facebook or Twitter . If you want to give us more details, you can share your story with us through our website. To see and respond to the full range of questions we’re interested in learning about, visit our formal Request for Information

For example,

Services that rely on consumers granting access to their financial records include:

  • Budgeting analysis and advice:  Some tools let people set budgets and analyze their spending activity.  The tools organize your purchases across multiple accounts into categories like food, health care, and entertainment so you can see trends. Some services send a text or email notification when a spending category is close to being over-budget.

  • Product recommendations: Some tools may make recommendations for new financial products based on your financial history. For example, if your records show that you have a lot of ATM fees, a tool might recommend other checking accounts with lower or no ATM fees.

  • Account verification: Many companies need you to verify your identity and bank account information. Access to your financial records can speed that process.

  • Loan applications: Some lenders may access your financial records to confirm your income and other information on your loan application.

  • Automatic or motivational savings: Some companies analyze your records to provide you with automatic savings programs and messages to keep you motivated to save.

  • Bill payment: Some services may collect your bills and help you organize your payments in a timely manner.

  • Fraud and identity theft protection: Some services analyze your records across various accounts to alert you about potentially fraudulent transactions.

  • Investment management: Some services use your account records to help you manage your investments.

A little more about the CFPB:

Our job is to put consumers first and help them take more control over their financial lives. We’re the one federal agency with the sole mission of protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. We want to make sure that consumer financial products and services are helping people rather than harming them.

A hat tip to @GeneKoo (an old Berkman Klein colleague) at the CFPB,  who sees our work with ProjectVRM as especially relevant to what they’re doing.  Of course, we agree. So let’s help them help us, and everybody else in the process.

Some additional links:

#120—our lever on the world

archimedes120

Archimedes said “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough and I can move the world.”

For decades, big business has had a place to stand and move millions or billions of consumers. That place is mass media.

Now, with the Internet, customers have a place to stand as well. Sure, businesses of all kinds and sizes can also stand there, but that’s a good thing, because the Internet is a place designed to get rid of distances. Think of it as a giant zero between everybody and everything on it: a second virtual world that coexists with the physical one.

We need our own levers in this world. We already have a few, in the form of browsers, email, and ways to publish on our own. But  we need new and better tools that make us both independent—able to stand on our own—and engaging, so we can do business.

Our developers list is constantly changing, but currently we list these categories of software and services:

That’s in addition to hardware, code bases, protocols, frameworks and other forms of work.

Now, in Phase Two, we need to focus sharply on making levers for the Archimedes in each of us: ways we can move the world. For example, here are two requests that came up just in the last few days:

  1. A single way any of us can view and control all the subscriptions in our lives. Maybe it’s an app. Maybe it’s a dashboard. What matters is that it’s a single lever that scales across every subscription we pay for. Every magazine, premium cable channel, public radio station, podcast, whatever. One tool that scales across all of them—rather than as many tools as there are services we pay, each provided by them rather than by us.
  2. A single way any of us can view and control relationships and data flows between ourselves and all of the utilities and service providers that serve our homes. With one of these, we can see and compare, for example, energy and water uses over time, and easily reach and relate to any and all of our service providers. This too might be a dashboard of some kind.

This is in addition to the commercial relationship manager we’ve wanted with from ProjectVRM’s start ten years ago: a tool that gives us one way to change our contact information (e.g. last name or address) for every entity we deal with, in one move.

Those levers give each of us scale:

seesaw

Ten years into this project, and the idea of giving individuals scale is still new, still odd. So, to help move both development and conversation forward, I suggest a new category, just for levers that give each of us world-moving scale: One to Zero, meaning One to the Whole Net. Abbreviation: 120. Hashtag: #120.

So, rather than asking if some product is an example of VRM, we can ask “Does that do 120?”

And let’s see how it goes.

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