NAB’s digital banking brand UBank has launched a fitness tracker inspired, in-app tool to help users save and spend within their budget.
Users set their saving goals – for example saving for a holiday or investment property – in the Free2Spend and input their income and expenses. The tool then outputs a single number which customers are ‘free to spend’ as they wish.
The tool works in real-time so if a customer overspends it recalculates the amount they have to spend, spreading the saving requirement over the remaining days of the month.
“Just like fitness trackers have kept people moving to the goal of 10,000 steps a day, Free2Spend does the same with your finances by consolidating your spending and saving goals into one number that changes with you and your life. If you go over or under that number, the tool automatically decreases or increases your daily spend for the rest of the month. By automating the saving process even more, our customers will be free to spend on the things they love,” explained UBank CEO Lee Hatton.
UBank, which launched in 2008 and has around 400,000 customers, believes simplifying personal financing will help users more easily reach their goals.
According to UBank’s own research 1 in 5 Australians say they don’t have the tools to accurately monitor their expenses, and 22 per cent don’t feel like they have the time to invest in keeping track.
Nearly 60 per cent of consumers said they felt overwhelmed by personal finance, and considered it a cause of stress, anxiety and loss of sleep.
“When developing Free2Spend, we noticed that budgeting tools focus on the past and bring to light negative behaviour, like over-spending or spending in certain categories, without providing easy tactics to help you readjust and recover,” Hatton said of the app which was designed and built in Australia.
Free2Spend is the latest in a slew of personal finance trackers from the major banks.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia has an in-app tool – Spend Tracker and Insights – which puts debit and credit card transactions into categories, for example Eating Out and Utilities, and identifies the category where most customer’s money was spent.
Westpac’s CashNav money management app works in a similar way.
Personal finance management and budgeting apps are a key focus of many fintechs, although their efforts are hampered by the fact banks are not keen to give access to their datasets, even via secure APIs. Many fintechs are forced to resort to screen-scraping or working with third parties to get hold of a customer’s spending patterns.
The bigger banks are providing such tools before it potentially becomes easier for fintechs to do so. Budgeting tools were highlighted as one of the key products benefiting consumers in the government’s Open Banking report.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said one of the new rules resulting from the review – a national Consumer Data Right (CDR) for banking data – will be the first sector in which the right will be established, by next July.
“The ability to effectively use customer data will be paramount. Banks will invest in artificial Intelligence, analytics, automation and algorithms and related capabilities to add value to consumers, and in application programming interfaces (APIs), to connect with a banking eco-system,” Deloitte summarised in its analysis of the changes.
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