Imagining a time before Moneysupermarket.com is a bit like imagining the time before the internet: even those that were there can’t quite remember how they did anything.
Well, before Moneysupermarket.com, in financial services, most people were either loyal to the same bank or insurance company for eternity, or if they wanted to switch, employed a broker.
The internet happened, Simon Nixon, the founder of Moneysupermarket.com, thought: “Why can I not compare and shop for my financial products as I do my food and groceries?” And lo, Moneysupermaket.com was born. So #epic was this man, he changed the face of finance forever (and made himself a pretty penny at the same time).
Fast forward 20 years and the disruption is about to happen again.
Dubbed ‘the moneysupermarket for millennials’ fintech platforms like Bud, Monese and Curve (money platforms rather than ‘challenger banks’ per se, which we covered in this earlier blog) are going to shake up our relationship with money once more.
Meanwhile, the herald of Barclays’ “cultural revolution”, former CEO Anthony Jenkins, recently registered a new start up, thought to be a fintech venture. A sure sign the ‘old guys’ are not going to sit on the sidelines for much longer.
This points to (possibly, just possibly) something beyond our wildest dreams here at Good With Money. Consumer-friendly tech-driven platforms or apps that are also GOOD – ie also driven by positive values or culture.
Rather sadly, despite such rapid growth (with the exception of a teeny, tiny number), fintech start-ups are still mostly profit driven and answerable to their shareholders – be they private or public, operating a similar business model to the big banks.
Much like Martin Woolf in a recent FT piece on banking being ripe for this revolution, where he says the finance industry needs to ensure that “the benefits accrue this time to the public rather than a small number of incumbents or even to their more dynamic replacements”, we think the tide could be about to turn, and a perfect storm is brewing for fintech with ethics. Recent growth in ethical investing and banking show that a balance for people and planet as well as profit is possible, so we watch with interest for a truly values-based fintech startup.
For now, if you simply want to get the low down on these must-use platforms that might just change your life, read our round-up below.
Launching in less than a month, Bud calls itself a ‘Universal Banking’ platform. This means it will allow users to access all their financial apps in one place with a real-time overview of the status of each, combined on one screen. Its website says it offers a gateway to a more personal, flexible and unified internet banking experience: part fintech app store, part financial marketplace, part search engine.
Users won’t be required to take out any new credit or debit cards, complete any new banking paperwork, and there will be no charges payable.
Founder Ed Maslavekas, 26, said in a recent article, ‘There’s so much talk about how Millennials love tech, distrust the big banks and are desperate to embrace new things. This is true up to a point, but the problem is you’d have to really love finance to properly research the hundreds of products that are out there. Most people have neither the time, know-how or the inclination to do this. What we’ve created is independent, universal banking for my generation and anyone else who wants to make their money work harder for them.’
Ed adds that, in contrast to ‘challenger banks’, Bud is completely impartial: ‘We want users to have the very best products for them, at the very best rates, regardless of who they bank with.’
Bud will allow users to log onto their current bank account and then find the best deals in foreign exchange, savings personal loans and investments. Users access all their products within Bud, and can buy from our partners while they’re still within the platform. Users will be guided through a series of lifestyle questions to help them make the most of the platform.
There are a number of fintech companies that have already committed their link-up to Bud, including money app Revolut, peer to peer marketplace CurrencyFair, digital payments company BitGold, currency exchange World First, and P2P investment platform, Crowdcube.
Monese is not a bank, though it offers many of the services your typical bank might. Targeting those new to the UK, who often struggle to open a bank account without employment history, UK citizenship, etc, it solves the problem of being a bank for the unbanked.
By charging a £4.95 monthly fee, Monese offers customers a pretty good current account option, including a Visa pre-paid card, cash deposits, global ATM withdrawals, easy payments to and from other Monese users and decent currency exchange rates. All via an Android (only) app well suited to their target audience.
Its website claims users can ‘open a UK current account on your mobile in minutes’. Monese launched in September 2015 with a waiting list of more than 50,000.
The not-another-credit-debit-card card from Curve looks and feels like a normal bank card. But it isn’t. Actually a pre-paid Mastercard, it allows users to combine and access all their cards and accounts with just one PIN. Its website likens it to a product such as Apple Pay, but because its in the form of a card – without a transaction limit because it is Chip & Pin as well as contactless – it says it offers greater familiarity and will makes existing cards work harder. Users can still collect loyalty points payable on their other cards, and use it to withdraw cash in the same way. Users can also cut out those nasty foreign transaction charges when using Curve abroad.
As well as the card, Curve operates via a smart phone app which enables users to see all payments from all accounts and cards in real time. Payments can be labelled, such as expenses, household, beer – whatever – and users can then search through the personalised categories at anytime. If users see a payment they don’t recognise they can flag it to Curve who will help them to work out what it is, or begin security measures if misuse is suspected.