Why was it considered important to develop an Open specification?

Open Financial Exchange is standards-based. It uses widely accepted industry authoring, networking, Internet and security standards. By making it more compelling for financial institutions to implement online financial services, Open Financial Exchange has helped accelerate the adoption of online financial services by financial institutions and their customers. Open Financial Exchange also enables financial services companies to make choices about the platforms, processors and systems they work with since it is platform independent. Greater choice and greater competition in these areas leads to lower costs. With more 5,500 banks and brokerages as well as major payroll processing companies using OFX, the specification is the most widely adopted open standard for the exchange of financial information between consumers and financial services providers.

Originally created in concert with and in response to the needs of the financial services industry, the Open Financial Exchange specification continues to reflect the involvement of leading financial institutions and technology companies. Innovators in the creation and delivery of online financial services include most large U.S. banks, credit unions and brokerage houses, as well as software vendors such as Intuit and Microsoft. Technology solution providers assist these financial institutions to develop tailored solutions.

How was OFX Started?

On January 16, 1997 Microsoft, Intuit, and CheckFree announced that they created a technical specification, called Open Financial Exchange, that would enable financial institutions to exchange financial data over the Internet with Web users and users of popular software such as Quicken and Microsoft Money. The specification, released on February 14, 1997 was the convergence of Intuit's OpenExchange, Microsoft's Open Financial Connectivity and CheckFree's electronic banking and payment protocols.

Open Financial Exchange was also developed with input from financial institutions and financial services companies.

The purpose of the specification was to eliminate confusion and uncertainty for these companies, who needed a single, unified, open specification to design against.

What is the latest version of OFX?

As of 11-1-2007, OFX 1.0.3, 2.0.3 and 2.1.1 are the latest versions of the OFX spec. The history of spec development is as follows.

The SGML version of the OFX spec went from OFX 1.0 to 1.6 (through several iterations not including 1.0.3). An XML version of the spec was then developed, going from OFX 2.0 through several iterations, up to OFX 2.1.

When Multi-Factor Authentication was introduced in 2006, the linear progression of spec numbers was interrupted to accommodate financial institutions that may have developed to older OFX specifications. Because many financial institutions had developed to 1.0.2, OFX 1.0.3 was created. Similarly, OFX 2.0.3 was developed from OFX 2.0.2 and OFX 2.1.1 was developed from OFX 2.1. The only change for each was the addition of MFA. The difference between OFX 2.0.2 and OFX 2.1 is that loans, images, investment closing and automatic 1-way are included in OFX 2.1.

Ultimately, OFX 1.0.3, OFX 2.0.3 and OFX 2.1.1 are only different from their predecessors in that MFA was added. In all cases the MFA added was the same, i.e. same tags, meaning, etc.

What versions of OFX are production clients and servers using?

Many servers and clients currently in production were initially developed using OFX 1.0.2 using an SGML-based OFX grammar. Many are transitioning or have transitioned over to XML (introduced with the OFX 2.0 specification). However, for backwards compatibility purposes, both SGML (OFX 1.x) and XML (OFX 2.x) are supported in the current marketplace by most processors.

How many banks use OFX?

With more 5,500 banks and brokerages as well as major payroll processing companies using OFX, the specification is the most widely adopted open standard for the exchange of financial information between consumers and financial services providers.

Are there any financial institutions outside of the United States that support OFX?

The consortium does not track specific implementations of OFX such as names of financial institutions, what versions or parts of the specification they support, etc. However, information has been received over the years about international applications for countries in Europe, South America and Australia.

Since OFX is “open” can my product connect to any financial institution that supports OFX?

The availability of OFX does not mean that financial institutions make their servers (URLs) available to all who wish to connect, only that once connectivity is established, the request/response exchange takes place according to a set of rules. Most financial institutions have a contractual relationship with the client vendor whose servers they connect with.

Some financial institutions have adopted OFX to support a download from a website, where the user signs in and the website offers download into a client via OFX.

Is there a public list of financial institution OFX server URLs?

There is no public list of financial institution OFX server URLs. While the OFX specification is "open" for all to download and develop to, OFX request/response connectivity is not open.

Is there a Certification Program available to certify that OFX servers comply with the OFX Specification?

At one time there was a certification process in place for the OFX community. However, it was quickly realized that companies whose products interfaced with OFX servers had to re-certify the servers due to the size and complexity of spec details that could be interpreted or implemented differently. For example, the intersection of different payee, payment, error recovery and synchronization types for any given bill pay server was prohibitively large for a global certification engine to cover. Since many product vendors required certification with servers they are connected to regardless of whether there was certification on a global level, the certification process came to reside under the auspices of the companies connecting to the OFX server rather than in a separate, global certification process.

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