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In South Africa, banking convenience meets controversy

JOHANNESBURG -- The launch of a new online system meant to track South African users' spending habits has erupted in controversy.
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JOHANNESBURG--The launch of a new online system meant to track South African users' spending habits has erupted in controversy here, calling into question the close-knit structure of South African banking and the power these banks wield over local startups.

Three weeks ago Christo Davel launched 22seven, an aggregated web-based financial management application meant to give users insight into their spending habits. While not a new idea -- similar tools like Mint have been available for years in the U.S. -- the continuously updated 22seven is the first of its kind in South Africa.

Allistar Fairweather at the Mail & Guardian describes how the app works

It collects data on your financial habits, slices and dices it, and reveals the hidden costs of those impulse buys and late-night ATM visits. Then, by prodding you gently, it shows you how to save and spend more wisely.

On its face, what 22seven is offering is pretty straightforward -- more information on a user's spending patterns. However, to get that information the company first needs banking log in details. Michael Jordaan, CEO of First National Bank, one of the "big four" of South African banks, summed up the feelings of the country's banking sector on twitter:

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