NetSuite’s latest innovation in banking, the Auto Bank Statement Import (ABSI) SuiteApp, was released early. However, because its release was silent (and thought not to be coming until the official 2020.2 release), it has largely flown under the radar.
The new ABSI SuiteApp automatically retrieves and uploads bank and credit card statements into NetSuite daily using the SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). It’s differentiated from its predecessor, the Bank Connectivity SuiteApp, because it does not require manual triggering to fetch additional bank transactions.
ABSI and Bank Feeds Similarities
We cannot begin to discuss the new ABSI SuiteApp without comparing it to one of the most popular features of NetSuite’s 2020.1 release, the Bank Feeds SuiteApp, which also automates the import of online bank statements into NetSuite on a daily basis.
The following are five features ABSI and Bank Feeds share:
- Listed in the fully-embedded SuiteApp Marketplace
- Free to install and use
- Updates the bank reconciliation module (including the dashboard portlet) daily with new transactions and balances
- Triggers the auto-matching engine upon import
- Will support the upcoming feature to auto-create GL-impacting transactions from imported statement transactions (This particular feature is scheduled for the 2020.2 release.)
3 Crucial Differences Between ABSI and Bank Feeds
Method of Connectivity
Bank Feeds uses a third-party data aggregator to pool data from various financial institutions. This aggregator, in turn, uses a variety of techniques to retrieve that data. Often, an approach known as screen scraping (or, more precisely, web scraping) is used. Web scraping has the benefit of requiring no coordination with the connecting financial institution. Instead, the script authenticates through the same path as a human would and reads the html of webpages to gather data.
Auto Bank Statement Import (ABSI)
On the other hand, ABSI directly connects to the server of a financial institution through the SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). While this SFTP approach inherently requires coordination with the financial institution, it tends to be more stable as a result. For instance, a web scraping agent might fail under any of the following scenarios (and more):
- The bank’s website undergoes significant structural changes causing the agent to lose its navigation path.
- User credentials expire according to the bank’s security protocols (and therefore must be periodically re-entered).
- The amount of data being extracted is simply too large for a semi-structured approach.
Despite the advantages of SFTP in reduced maintenance, financial institutions are likely to charge a modest fee for their share in providing the service (i.e., maintaining the SFTP server where they push statements for NetSuite to retrieve). Whereas, the web scraping approach continues to circumvent bank-assessed fees.
That said, SFTP is a global and widely-accepted industry standard for transferring bank statements while Bank Feeds currently only support 9,000 financial institutions across the US and Canada.
So, Who Wins?
Bank Feeds’ Closing Argument
The Bank Feeds SuiteApp is a convenient and entirely zero direct cost solution for NetSuite customers to automate their bank and credit card statement imports (when the indirect costs of web scraping are acceptable).
ABSI’s Closing Argument
ABSI is the enterprise-focused sibling to Bank Feeds that cuts down on the scalability issues of web scraping but requires coordination with the financial institution. Accordingly, it tends to carry small but ongoing bank-assessed fees, even though NetSuite provides ABSI for free.
Dependent upon an organization’s needs, and the financial institutions with which they partner, either (or both) of NetSuite’s latest-gen SuiteApps could be perfect to accrue agility in bank reconciliation and cash reporting.
Stay tuned for a follow-up step-by-step guide on how to configure ABSI, just like we did for Bank Feeds.