Banking Tech Awards 2020 Winner: Yolt – Best Mobile Initiative
Interview with Pauline van Brakel, chief product officer at Yolt.
Congratulations on winning the Best Mobile Initiative. Tell us about your mobile app, what are some of its main features?
Yolt is a money platform that empowers people to be smart with their money. Since Yolt launched in 2017, it has harnessed the power of Open Banking to deliver a better banking solution to customers by giving them a totally transparent view of their finances, in one central place.
Our app users can see balances and transactions across multiple accounts, keep track of what they’re really spending and watch out for upcoming bills. They can set budgets and savings goals, pay friends and family, and even search and switch to more competitive household bills.
In October last year, Yolt launched an updated version of the app. The app uses behavioral science techniques to help users spend smarter and save. New features include an option to round up purchases to the nearest pound, for example, and automatically put the “extra” money into a “money jar”. The money jar feature also offers handy tips and reminders for users to increase their savings. It’s trained to recognise and save refunds, salary raises and even bonuses.
How important is the mobile app to your business?
Yolt’s mobile app is hugely important to the business. We now have 1.6 million registered users across the UK, France and Italy. Yolt is powered by our company’s business-to-business (B2B) arm – Yolt Technology Services (YTS), an open banking provider in Europe.
In 2019, YTS made its API and platform available to leading financial institutions and ambitious tech businesses as an open banking technical service provider. This tied in well with the requirement from UK regulations for all European banks to make an API available for open banking connections from September 2019.
The market you’re in − money management, app-based, is becoming increasingly competitive. What features/technology of your mobile app help it stand out?
The UK fintech sector is thriving. According to research last year by KPMG, the UK fintech sector received $48 billion of investment in 2019, over 80% of Europe’s overall fintech funding.
Yolt recognises that the pandemic crisis has created many additional financial pressures for consumers and therefore consumers need better solutions to manage these pressures.
One of the new features in the new version of the mobile app is a Yolt card, which is a contactless debit Mastercard. It’s powered by the Yolt app. It gets users into the habit of saving, through easy everyday steps with round ups and cashback on selected brands.
The Yolt Card works alongside the virtual Money Jar to help users get into the habit of saving.
Yolt is a venture of ING bank. Has being owned by a big bank helped Yolt grow its mobile app and business? Do you try to combine the nimbleness of a start-up with the stability of a corporate?
As a venture of ING, we have benefitted greatly from the business’ market know-how, expertise and continued support. ING’s support has been integral to helping grow the Yolt business to what it is today, serving 1.6 million registered users in just under four years. We can balance this with the agility of a start-up as a relatively small organisation, with big ambitions across Europe.
What are the most important trends in mobile apps in your market for in 2021 and beyond?
COVID-19 has hugely accelerated the expectation for financial services to be completely digitalised, so the adoption of personal finance apps and online banking are likely to increase. Likewise, the consumer expectation for the same seamless experience that tech giants such as Amazon and Apple offer has trickled into the financial services sector.
The post-Covid economy may also bring greater adoption of open banking services. Demand will come not only from consumers looking for digital tools to help them manage their finance but also from businesses who will be looking at how to reduce business costs, offer a seamless customer experience and a safe and secure method of handling payment data. While any investment during a period of economic uncertainty may seem risky, those adopting open banking during this time will be able to capitalise on the sharp increase in consumers using online services.
It’s not just money management tools consumers are turning to in lockdown. UK consumers may feel more comfortable with online processes, such as mortgage applications, sharing account information, and executing transactions digitally.
This could pave the way for a truly open financial system in the next few years, with consumers and businesses able to access their entire financial footprint, from mortgage applications to bills and smart meter readings, in one place.
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