Talk to most young people about saving money and they will often say it is unaffordable and far too complicated. Investing in stocks and shares, doubly so. While there isn't much one individual startup can do about the former, there's an awful lot that could be done to make saving easier.
One app launched in August 2016 hopes to do just that: Moneybox. It basically acts as a sort of piggybank for the smartphone era, by rounding up spare change from card purchases into a Stocks & Shares ISA.
So if, for example, you buy a £1.50 coffee, Moneybox will suggest a saving of 50p. You can choose to link it to as many bank accounts and round up as many transactions as you wish, swiping right to save and left not to from a list that shows every individual item you have spent over the past week.
The total you have chosen to save is then transferred from your bank account to your Moneybox ISA every Wednesday. How this money is then invested depends on you and whether you choose 'cautious', 'balanced' or 'adventurous' as a strategy, which balances between risk and potential rate of returns across a range of corporate bonds, property funds, government bonds, unit trusts and so on.
It's small change, but given the average user makes 120 transactions per month and rounds up on average 28p per transaction, that's about £36 saved each month and about £440 saved per year, according to their figures. This bears out in experience - I've saved about £70 and I have been testing the apps for the last eight weeks.
It isn't perfect (understandably for such a new app): it's only available on iOS (though an Android version is on its way). It can also be a little hard to track your history of transactions and what interest has been earned. However it more than makes up for this in its sleek, intuitive interface, transparency and ease of use.
The team of 13 behind the app have backgrounds in Google, Hotels.com, dunnhumby, ASOS and MoneySuperMarket, while cofounder Ben Stanway has previous startup experience, previously launching online florist Bloom & Wild.
Moneybox was approved by the Financial Conduct Authority in May 2016 and launched just three months later in August. It's not hard to see how they managed to raise almost $5 million before launching, from a combination of Oxford Capital Partners, Samos Investments and a handful of angel investors.
With the proliferation of fintech companies this year, especially within London, it's rare to find something that truly makes you think 'I can't believe this doesn't exist already'. But Moneybox does just that.
Update: Moneybox won 'Fintech Innovator of the Year' at Techworld's 'the techies' awards in February 2017. Cofounder Ben Stanway won 'Founder of the Year'.
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