One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them– J.R.R. Tolkien.
About a month ago, I started noticing different banks prompting me to consolidate financial data from other banks using a new “thing” called the SGFinDex.
Singapore Financial Data Exchange, or SGFinDex, is an initiative by Singapore’s government to build a standardized infrastructure to allow individuals to retrieve our personal financial information from participating banks and relevant government agencies.
Solving the Right Problem
Before the streaming wars, there were the high-yield savings account wars in Singapore.
With a savings rate of 53.8%, Singapore ranked 6th on the top ten countries with the highest savings rate.
We are a nation of savers.
And the banks know it too. They smell blood – they want to capitalize on our love of hoarding green cash.
Hence, every local and foreign bank offered numerous high yield savings account up to 3.8% p.a., awarding bonus interests for performing different tasks. Enticing us to open a deposit account with them and hand them our cash.
As a result, many of us have probably opened many different bank accounts for chasing the ever-elusive interest rates.
I personally have active accounts with all three of the local banks. Having an overview of my cash savings is a cumbersome affair. I have to log in to the online banking, key in my digital token, a few clicks here and there, and then voila! – my deposit amount.
I used to track all these in a spreadsheet month on month.
I have also signed up for many credit cards from many banks coveting every extra bit of cashback or miles. At a point of time, I even forget to waive off annual fees resulting in a hefty late charge because I forgotten that the card existed.
We have many first world problems here.
SGFinDex solves this by allowing us to access all these data in a centralized platform. And because it is by the government, you could also link your Tax information, CPF, and HDB information on that platform.
Is It Secure?
When we open an account with a bank, we deposit thousands (maybe millions) of dollars into it without a second thought about the bank’s data security.
Yet, when the government authority that regulates these banks sets up a data retrieval platform, we cry out and make a big fuss about how our data will get stolen or hacked.
Funny, isn’t it?
You cry not fair, the banks are regulated. They have standards to uphold. Yes, they follow the standards set by the same authority that is building the platform.
Yes, it is secure.
- The only access we are giving banks is read-only. They can only read the data and not alter the data. They cannot transfer money out of your banks. They cannot force sell all your equities or unit trusts.
- The data is encrypted – it will look gibberish unless you have the key to decrypt it. So, even if someone stole your data, they cannot read it unless they have your unique decryption key. It is like the private key of your bitcoin. You cannot spend your bitcoin unless you have the private key even if you have access to your bitcoin account.
Is the bank vault secure? After watching many bank heist movies, with the right team equipped with the right tools, any secure vault can be broken into.
No matter how secure the system, there is bound to be vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
But the SGFinDex might be more secure than your banks, and it is definitely safer than you tracking your personal net worth on a spreadsheet.
Giving MyMoneySense a Try
Hence, I decided to give mymoneysense.gov.sg a try.
After setting up all my bank connections, it showed the data retrieved from the government (my income tax statement, CPF and HDB loan), and the data retrieved from the banks (my deposits, investments, loans and credit cards)
Next, I have to set up my cash flow and wealth.
I was a bit disappointed that I still have to manually key in my cashflow. I thought MyMoneySense might figure out my monthly salary from my banks and calculate my average spending from my credit cards.
But those have to be manually keyed in.
After that, I was prompted to set targets for savings. Since, I have been wanting to travel after the pandemic is over, I also created a savings target for my year end Taiwan trip.
I was brought to the dashboard, displaying my cash flow, wealth and protection.
The cashflow dashboard was not so helpful, as the inflow and outflow were manually keyed in by me. So the dashboard just spits out the same data back to me.
The wealth dashboard was useful – it gave me an overview of my cash savings, CPF and SRS investments and CPF investments.
The most useful feature was that it showed all my credit card statements in one page. As I want to know whether I get charged an annual fee on any of my less active credit cards, this is useful. Once I had an annual fee on my credit card, I didn’t know until three months later, racking up a hefty amount of late fee charges.
There is only one limitation – there is no linkage to brokerages or any of the roboadvisors. Hence, MyMoneySense flagged that I am not very diversified since I only own a single type of investment – unit trusts.
I read that eventually, SGFinDex will roll out to brokerages, which will be extremely useful.
The Protection dashboard is a tad disappointing. It only showed the emergency fund (which I had manually keyed in) and the Medisave life data. It would be great if we could pull insurance information from the various insurance companies.
MyMoneySense can help you manage your cashflow and savings but is very limited in investment and insurance planning.
For SGFinDex to fully work, I think we would still need to onboard the brokerages, insurance companies and Robos onto the platform. Once that is in place, I think it would be a very handy tool to get a snapshot of your current financial situation.
What other banks have an edge over my MyMoneySense is that they have information of your salary deposits, investments and insurance products you buy from the bank. Perhaps, it will make sense to use the bank which you credit your salary into for financial planning.
That’s said, I haven’t tried any of the financial planning tools offered by the banks. That will be for another day.