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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

A single platform for paying bills and managing expenses

Vivina Vishwanathan, Hindustan Times   July 20, 2012
First Published: 22:14 IST(20/7/2012) | Last Updated: 02:27 IST(21/7/2012)

Usually, a personal finance (PF) platform is used to track your income and expenses, including investments. To make transactions, you either have to go through your bank's website or register with a brokerage and link your bank account.

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Now you have the option of integrating accounting and a few transactions on one platform, MyUniverse (https://www.myuniverse.co.in/home.aspx), a PF platform launched by Aditya Birla Financial Services Group recently.

The site allows you to integrate multiple bank accounts on this single platform.

The minimum cost for this service will be Rs. 500 plus tax annually. As of now, it is offering services free of cost for trial. Here's what all you can do with the new site. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/7/21_07_12-buss27.jpg

One-stop-shop for all transactions
Your bank account allows you to pay utility, credit card and other bills, while you have to log in to your broker's account to make investments.

MyUniverse allows you to pay bills, buy stocks or mutual funds at one place. However, it doesn't allow any kind of fund transfer from your bank account.

Say, if you have a Bank X credit card, it will neither allow you to pay your credit card bills from your Bank X account or any other account.

Track income, expenses
Financial planning is more about keeping a track of the inflow and outflow of your money. MyUniverse helps you do this on real-time basis.

For this, after you create an account, you will have to upload your financial details. By linking your accounts, you can view your financial details, including your liabilities there.

Generally, people track their spending through internet banking, bank statements, uploading data manually on the Excel sheet or by maintaining a record in a book.

This software will help you do all this at one place. So if you link your bank accounts to this site, it will upload the debit and credit details in real time and you will get a consolidated data sheet. Most online PF management software, such as Mint.com, a platform that caters to the US market, and Perfios.com, provide this service.

Budget your expenses
Besides showing you where you spend every month, you can also sign up for monthly budget alerts. It will notify you if the spending for any category, such as entertainment, shopping and dining out, has exceeded your budget, thus you can identify areas where you need to cut back.

While the amount you spend through online transactions will be automatically uploaded, the offline ones would need to be entered manually. Mint.com also provides similar services free of cost.

Get advice and analysis
MyUniverse will provide you customised advice.

"Advices are powered by rules engine that works on customers' holistic data and customises them based on financial and risk profile of the customer," said Sudhakar Ramasubramanian, managing director, Aditya Birla Money Ltd.

How safe is it?
Is this site safe enough for you to give all your bank details?

"All user data is encrypted and stored in secure servers under multi-layer security protocol," said Ramasubramanian.

"No one at MyUniverse has access to individual user's account information."

When you opt to register, you will notice there are three stages of verification: question, image and code.

Also, in case you forget your password only if you remember the question and answer for your verification will you be able to recover it. Else, you will have to start the process all over again with a new account.

Watch out for
Challenges: The biggest challenge for such platforms is security. Go ahead only if you are comfortable with disclosing all your financial details, including your bank account details. Also, since you can see your portfolio upfront, short-term setback should not make you alter your long-term investment.

It can't replace a financial adviser: If you are looking just to inculcate financial discipline by enrolling in a PF site, you may want to try a free-of-cost site offering basic services.

In any case, a PF platform can't offer proper financial planning.

"Though the software could throw unbiased views without human interaction, proper financial planning is not possible," said Veer Sardesai, a Pune-based certified financial planner.

"At the most, it can be looked at as an accounting platform."

However, it would be useful for people who want to integrate their transactions and accounts at one place.


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