Emma was launched in 2018 by co-founders Edoardo Moreni and Antonio Marino, who came up with the concept while studying together at Manchester University. Billed as “your best financial friend,” the mobile app brings all your bank, credit card, savings, investments and even pension accounts together in one place, for free, helping to give you more control over your finances.
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Like all budgeting apps that use Open Banking (a relatively recent development where banks have to supply your financial data to third parties if you ask them to), Emma does take a bit of time and effort to get started. This depends on how many accounts you have with different providers, as you’ll need to log in separately to each one to upload them.
Once all of your accounts are uploaded, however, the app uses simple, casual language and is easy to navigate. Emma is firmly targeted at millennials, although its loud colours and gummy bear logo do feel a little like a child’s game rather than a financial management app. Its biggest customer base is people aged 25-35, closely followed by those aged 18-25.
Is it safe?
Emma’s access is read-only, so it can’t touch your money. It uses the same encryption technology as the mainstream banks, so should be just as safe. It is also authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Emma currently has partnerships through its marketplace with providers that have excellent sustainability credentials. These include PensionBee, WealthSimple and Nutmeg. It doesn’t yet however, offer sustainable tips on your spending like close competitor Snoop.
Unique selling points
- Fee tracker. Emma lets you track exactly when and why banks have charged you fees such as overdraft charges, fixed account fees and foreign transaction costs. It lets you know which one of your providers is “ripping you off the most.”
- Savings advice. Using smart technology, Emma tells you an affordable amount to put aside for saving at the end of each month.
- Emma marketplace. You can access pension, investment and rent repayment products from providers such as Wealthsimple, PensionBee and CreditLadder.
- Cryptocurrency integration. Keep track of your cryptocurrency balances through exchanges including Bitcoin and Coinbase.
The plus points
- Emma’s basic service is free to use (see below).
- Grouping all your accounts together in one place – giving you a real-time view of all your spending – makes budgeting easier.
- It can integrate with most major banks (and some startups including Starling and Monzo) and credit card, investment and pensions providers.
- Emma doesn’t offer a ‘week-to-week’ or ‘month-to-month’ comparison feature, which would make it easier to track how your spending habits change over time.
- Like most money management apps, Emma is currently read only, so you can’t move money between accounts or make payments.
- Several of the most appealing features are only available to premium users. Some of Emma’s competitors, like Snoop, Yolt and Money Dashboard, are better from this point of view.
Cost of use
Emma is free to use for the basic service. It also offers a premium version of the app – ‘Emma Pro’ – which gives you a more customisable experience for £4.99 a month (or £29.99 for a year). With this you’re able to make custom categories and can rename your transactions, export your data in a spreadsheet, and add manual accounts.
Emma also makes money from its marketplace, which features providers it has a partnership with. It offers ‘Emma Rewards’ where users who sign up to them are given cashback, while Emma also gets a return.
How do these costs compare to competitors?
Emma’s main competitors, Yolt, Snoop and Money Dashboard, are free to use. Instead of offering a paid-for premium service, they make money from commissions and providing anonymous data to market research companies.
Similar apps worth considering are:
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