Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sam Jayne / Axios

A growing number of consumers are embracing apps that mine their online saving and spending habits, and then recommend better financial decisions. Mint, Expensify, and Venmo are helping millions of users move money, invest, and plan their future.

But the picture is much bigger: The firms making these apps, part of the world known collectively as "fintech," collect, store and then sell their users' anonymized data, an industry previously controlled solely by traditional banks. Now, fintech firms and banks are locked in the opening salvos of a war for control of the consumer financial data, and the billions of dollars in fees that they earn.

What the war is about: The most valuable commodity in the modern economy is information—just ask Google and Facebook. Banks sit on a treasure trove of the most valuable type of information: financial data. Enter fintech companies, whose services include handling customer deposits, just like traditional banks, and also selling their anonymized data to research firms and hedge funds.

What happens is that customers enter their banking data into an app, and thereby open a spigot on their inner-most financial secrets to the fintech firms.

But banks are becoming uncomfortable with this set of circumstances, since they've held total control over the data until now, and bristle at the idea of startups horning in on their business. Industry insiders tell me that over the past six to nine months, banks have increasingly put up hurdles and even roadblocks to the data that had been going to the fintech firms via their apps.

App users are unhappy with the war: Mario Da Costa is 25 and works in education policy in Washington D.C. He tells Axios that he uses a fintech app called Qapital, which helps him set savings goals and then automatically siphons off money from his bank account to a separate account. That way, he's not tempted to spend more than he has budgeted.

  • But in June, he says, his main bank, TD, began restricting the app's access to his data. It has since been restored, but he says that further interruptions could cause him to switch banks.
  • Industry insiders tell Axios that banks have increasingly resisted sharing data with fintech companies despite customer requests that they do.
  • Mario's experience dovetails with complaints on social media

What the banks say: TD tells Axios that any interruptions to its services is the result of its overriding concern for security. "TD Bank does not have a policy against customers linking their TD bank accounts with third parties. However, we take the protection of our customers' assets and data seriously," the bank said.

  • High-profile banks face reputational harm if their financial data is compromised
  • And banks like Chase have said they won't work with companies that profit from selling user data, arguing that it compromises privacy.
  • Banks and Wall Street firms has preferred instead to come to bilateral agreements with individual fintech firms. Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan announced such agreements earlier this year.

What the law says: A provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law requires banks to share data with whomever consumers want them to.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was tasked by Congress to make rules around these issues, has yet to weigh in. And with rumors that current head Richard Cordray will leave to run for political office, consumer advocates worry that sound regulation on this issue will be delayed even further.

The bottom line: Fintech can't solve economic problems like rising financial insecurity, but consumers would benefit from their data and financial assets becoming more portable, so that all types of financial services companies could compete with more services and lower fees.

Go deeper

Gaming CEO calls on industry to help fight climate change

"Catalyst Black." Screenshot: Super Evil Megacorp

Gaming CEO Kristian Segerstrale is calling on leaders in his industry to take action on climate change, after completing a $1.4 million fundraising campaign this summer.

Why it matters: Gaming's pandemic-fueled boom creates an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to do some good.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Foreign travelers will be allowed entry to the U.S. beginning Nov. 8 if they can provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with a shot authorized by the World Health Organization and a negative test within three days of departure, the White House announced Monday.

Why it matters: The updated guidance, which exempts children under the age of 18 from the vaccine requirement, is intended to provide further clarity for airlines and foreign nationals who have been restricted from traveling to the U.S. since early 2020.

4 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!