Finance Website Buxfer Lets You Store Sensitive Data On Your Own Computer

With its new Google Gears functionality, Buxfer might finally be the answer for people who want the bells and whistles of an online personal finance website (hello Mint!)—charts, pretty colors, and general infoporn goodness—without having to blindly trust an unknown company with sensitive data such as bank account or credit card numbers (goodbye Mint!). The service uses Google Gears to store account login information and credentials on your own computer, then syncs the data collected with the Buxfer servers, writes VentureBeat.

Buxfer has been around for a while—both Consumerist and Lifehacker wrote about it nearly a year ago—but the Google Gears functionality is a new component added just last month, and at least at first glance it seems like a good answer to the “sensitive data” issue.

Like Mint and the others, Buxfer has introduced a way to let you easily synchronize your financial accounts from Bank of America, American Express, Citibank credit cards, Chase credit cards, and more than 300 others with your personal finance information on its site. It uses Google Gears to download your financial account information — your username and password — to an offline Buxfer component that lives on your computer, that syncs with your online Buxfer account. It’s the company’s policy to never store this sensitive user information on its servers.

Wesabe, like Buxfer, offers a set of financial information upload tools, so you can store your data on your own computer, then sync it with that site — we’ve found Buxfer’s implementation of this offline component to be easier to use.

Now if only Buxfer could come up with a more appealing name.

“Buxfer is giving Mint, other personal finance sites, a run for their money” [VentureBeat]

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  1. XTC46 says:

    Interesting. I am curious as to what they need to sync with their servers if they have no intention of storing anything there. I think Ill take a closer look at this as it might be a more user friendly alternative than say quickbooks, GNUcash or MS Money

  2. RvLeshrac says:

    Amazing! Somehow they manage to move the data from Point A to Point B and process it at Point B without *ever needing to store the data at Point B*.

    I hope they’ve patented that. Microsoft, Adobe, and others with expensive software would love to have a way to allow you to use their products without leaving any traces whatsoever on your machine.

  3. krunk4ever says:

    @xtc46: What it sounds like to me is they still store your financial data (i.e. transactions and balance), but they don’t store your credentials to log into those banking sites.

    @RvLeshrac: There are a bunch of services like that already. Microsoft-wise, check out InfoCards/CardSpace.

  4. XTC46 says:

    @krunk4ever: I’m not so sure about that. The claim is that they store no personal data on their server, so what I am thinking is they use their severs as kind of a proxy to the banking institutes. That way all the information is pushed through one controlled place rather than having the application contact each banking institution individually. This would be a benefit becasue if one of the banks changes the interface for their net access, buxfer just needs to make changes on their side, not on the user side.

    The downside to this is that if that central point gets compromised, it could be a problem becasue the info could be sniffed while in transit.

  5. Eric1285 says:

    I like Mint, but it has trouble accessing about half of my accounts. Until they fix it, it’s just a toy for me. Perhaps this will work better.

  6. kaushalmodi says:

    I love the offline option: Quicken. Look out for cheap OEM versions or ‘free versions’.

  7. mrterrysilver says:

    i signed up and downloaded it and looked into what it stores in the google gears sqlite database it uses.

    it only stores your bank account usernames / passwords, not all the transactions. so yeah, they have your financial records still on their servers.

    also your pw is stored in cleartext on your local system

  8. denon says:

    @mrterrysilver: hah, that’s hillarious. Knowing the average end-user these days, I think I’d rather the data be stored on their servers. A clear-text password on a spyware-infested workstation is an entertaining thought.

  9. shashank.pandit says:

    mrterrysilver, denon:

    We are working on this issue. Expect a fix to be out within the next 10-12 hours.


    Shashank,
    Co-founder,
    Buxfer

  10. RvLeshrac says:

    @krunk4ever:

    Uh… the information *ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS* must be stored at every point of contact. It sits in memory somewhere. If it wasn’t sitting in memory, you couldn’t do anything with it. You couldn’t route it, you couldn’t calculate with it, etc.

  11. Chris Walters says:

    @mrterrysilver: Yeah, that’s what I wrote: “The service uses Google Gears to store account login information and credentials on your own computer, then syncs the data collected with the Buxfer servers, writes VentureBeat.” Not sure why so many readers before you thought it somehow magically stored everything on your computer, but *shrug*.

    @denon: I agree. But for that percentage of users who a) know what they’re doing and b) don’t want to store login info on other servers, Buxfer is at least something to consider.

  12. JoeAnglican says:

    “without having to blindly trust an unknown company with sensitive data such as bank account or credit card numbers (goodbye Mint!). ”
    This is a bit unfair, as Mint only stores logins and passwords. Your actual bank account numbers are never stored on Mint servers. A fine distinction, but an important one.

  13. Shoeb Ahmed says:

    I would love if Canadian banks were supported. I’m sure a lot of us agree.

    There’s tons of Canadian people who are looking to use something like this, and are not able to because all these websites don’t have Canadian banks.

    The first one who supports it, gets a HUGE Canadian fan base, heh.
    Besides, it’s not like we have tons of banks here. The most used ones are:

    Royal Bank of Canada
    CIBC
    TD Canada Trust
    President’s Choice Financial
    Bank of Montreal
    Scotia Bank

    6 majorly used banks. Our mobile phone operators list is even smaller! Yay Canada!