Contextual Big Data and my Bank Accounts

I’ve been thinking about two things to do with data and how it is presented, mainly to do with Learning Systems but the ideas apply to anything, and lately I’ve been using my Internet Banking application and wondering why it doesn’t behave in this way.

There are two concepts I have in my mind whenever I’m looking at a Learning System, contextual data and the analysis of the data on hand. Basically the idea of a system analysing the data it has on you and, making assumptions and suggestions based on it, and providing those to the owner of the data as and when they need them.

As I was thinking about this I logged onto my Bank application and started my regular activity of downloading my statements to look at my finances. For this regular and relatively simple piece of work, I download all my statements and them import them into Excel to carry out some simple analysis. I highlight the regular outgoings, label identifiable payments, highlight amounts I can’t identify, import other statements for cross referencing and make some estimates to see if there will be enough money to pay certain regular bills in the joint account.

It’s all very simple stuff, and that thought had me wondering, why doesn’t the Internet Banking system do it for me? It’s happening all around us already in many other systems, Learning Systems for one, but Google and Apple are already doing it, home automation products are doing it more and more, so why not your Banking system?

Imagine if you could add your own reference on payments and transfers you make from the system, label or tag entries in certain ways for grouping and sorting, and the system itself would identify regular payments and be able to tell you if you’ll have enough in that account this month for those regular outgoings?

What if while taking some money out, making a payment or transfer, or when a new bill is processed your mobile alerts you to the fact, allowing you to label it. Next time it comes out the system knows what it is, labels it the same way, and doesn’t have to alert you.

It then starts to understand your payment. During the period of your regular outgoings – mortgage, TV licence, insurance, council tax – it tells you that your balance is currently £x and that £y is coming out this week and this will leave you with £z.

Perhaps it says that you don’t have enough to cover the bills and that you’ll be overdrawn, and do you want to transfer £y-z to cover it?

How about if the system points out that your usual direct debit to your mobile phone provider is more than usual. It analyses how much you spend each month and this month your bill is £x dearer. A quick alert to let you know could have you checking with the mobile phone provider much quicker than if you’d noticed when you’d checked your statement.

The system could let you know if a payment was made twice, tell you how much you’ll have left from your pay after the expected bills are paid out, generally just help you understand where your money is going, that there are no surprises, and helps you manage your finances.

Now that’s Internet Banking.

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