For most consumer products the notion of “try before you buy” is commonplace. It’s obvious right? Before I buy a shirt or pair of shoes, I want to try them on and make sure they fit. Before I see a movie, I want to watch the preview. Even with cars, there’s a test drive. But what about banking? Have you ever heard of “trying out” a checking account? Some will say you can visit a branch and get a “feel” for the bank and the service it provides. Really? Do you honestly think that you can get a sense of that without an account? What would you be getting a feel for? The branch teller’s opinion on today’s weather? How many loops in the line before you get to the front of the queue?
The truth is this: banking is one of the rare consumer service industries where there has been NO concept, anywhere in the world, of “try before you buy”. In fact, it’s actually much worse than that. In many cases you have to do significant work before you can even buy a bank product – fill out paper forms, provide sensitive life information, spend precious time waiting in lines. It’s definitely not “try before you buy”, instead it’s more like “buy, work for it, and then try”.
At Moven, we’ve just changed all that.
We offer a spending card and app that work together to help you understand your everyday behaviors so you can build better financial habits and save more. That’s our product and you can indeed “try it before you buy it.” You can download our free app and easily link other spending cards you might already have – a bank debit card, a credit card, a charge card. Then you can see how our app analyzes your spending and provides you with insight into your habits. You can try it out and see how it helps you effortlessly stay on top of how you’re spending and where you’re spending so you can make better spending decisions and know when/how to save. We let you try all of that. If you like it, you can get a Moven card and do “smart banking” with us.
“Try before you buy” for banking… ‘novel concept’ or ‘it’s about time’? You tell us.
If the #twittersphere is to be believed, the hottest thing on the planet right now is Pokémon Go. For those of you not familiar with PG, it is a new game that merges geo-location, augmented reality and behavioral gamification to engage users in a unique game environment. There are reports of people walking miles to play the game and find more Pokémon. There are reports of people leaving home at 3am in the morning to find Pokémon. There are even people suggesting that this game brought their family together or got them out of their house for the first time in days or weeks. This thing is blowing up!
Pokémon Go utilizes a technology called Augmented Reality. A/R allows them to overlay graphics or data over our ‘real-world view’ through a camera or similar instrument thus ‘augmenting’ your physical environment. In the game you will see a Pokémon identified as a small icon on your game map, when you click on it your camera fires up and you see the Pokémon projected into your field of view, where you have to trap it with a ball by tossing it at the Pokémon on your screen.
The Pokemon phenomenon is showing us a small glimpse of what life will be like over the next 10-15 years as Augmented reality starts to enhance our world. The lines between gaming, entertainment and the real world will change. We will start to see the digital and virtual worlds merge.
What does this mean for fintech?
In this new world, the way you manage your financial health will go through a radical shift. Context will become the single most important element of your day-to-day financial health. No one will budget, but they will have their financial behavior ‘gamified’ every day. The way good banks and financial partners will work is that they will engage you with tools like augmented reality, social engagement and behavioral psychology, to help you understand the choices you make every day. Was that last restaurant you visited good or bad for your financial health? Where should you eat or shop to ensure you save money this month? When are the days you spend the most, and why?
Offering you a higher savings interest rate might sound like a good deal if you live in the 20th century, but it doesn’t actually help you save MORE money. The only way to do that is to change your behavior. Reduce what you spend every day, understand how to change your behavior to save, understand the best times to save, etc. The tools we have through mobile, augmented reality, geo-location and other such technologies that operate in real-time to provide you with context and help you modify your behavior are the future of your financial health.
Pokémon Go isn’t a banking app, but it does give us a glimpse into how very different the world of banking, investment and financial advice will be in 10 year’s time, and why banking is no longer a place you go, but something you do – on your phone.
Welcome to Moven…
Traditional banks have been very hesitant to embrace the opportunities afforded by operating in the cloud. Security concerns, often unfounded, make the public cloud a particular point of fear for most traditional financial institutions, despite the many benefits it offers in terms of efficiency, scalability, and innovation. As a result, banks are pouring significant resources into building their own private cloud solutions.
However, the private cloud model, when taking the total solution in aggregate, misses out on the main advantages of cloud itself when considering 3 major concerns. First, the isolation of the private cloud model severely limits the cost efficiencies that can only be realized with the global economies of scale enabled by the public cloud. Second, implementation, switching, and maintenance costs of the underlying private cloud infrastructure will often completely erode any marginal efficiency gains realized by operating in a private cloud. Third, and most importantly, private cloud infrastructure can never keep up with the pace of innovation that the public cloud is offering. Sadly, if large banks ever actually complete their private cloud model, they will immediately be 5 years behind the industry on new cloud capabilities, especially when compared to what innovative fin-tech startup competitors can do with the public cloud.
Moven, on the other hand, has no legacy concerns to worry about and is able to fully leverage public cloud economies of scale and innovation. In fact, Moven is leveraging Amazon’s public cloud to enable its “smart bank account” distribution model across the globe, most recently with TD Bank Canada and Westpac New Zealand. Because of this, Moven bypasses many of the restrictions big banks encounter with the private cloud, enabling unprecedented global expansion of innovative business capabilities, while being even more secure than a private data center or private cloud model.
In fact, Moven is not just leveraging Amazon’s public cloud to “host infrastructure”, but has built a proprietary technology on top of AWS’s “Infrastructure as Code” capabilities, dubbed the Moven Global Distributor (MGD). The MGD has enabled Moven to take the Agile method to the extreme with advanced continuous delivery, radical development efficiency, and ultra-high quality environment management. As an example, Moven is able to deploy an entire enterprise financial wellness and banking stack to any AWS-enabled country in a matter of hours, something that would take a large bank over a year to complete, while supporting a globally replicated multi-tenant model that segments client data in each country but still enforces a re-usable model across clients.
Two weeks ago, at Finovate in San Jose, we presented “TD MySpend” on stage with Rizwan Khalfan, the Chief Digital Officer of our partner TD Bank. You can watch a video of that presentation here. But let me tell you why we think that TD MySpend is such an important milestone, not just for Moven but for the FinTech space as a whole.
- Re-inventing PFM – At Moven, we’ve long talked about the goal of killing the need for budgeting. TD MySpend represents a huge step in that direction. Why? For us, traditional budgeting tools, PFM tools, and similar approaches have two defining characteristics: They are anchored by or oriented around specific “goals”. They are dependent on “rear-view” analysis (i.e. reviewing behaviors that happened in the past by at least a day, most likely a couple of weeks or more before the user actually looks at it). TD MySpend breaks this model in two major ways. Firstly, it’s not about setting goals, it’s about being aware of habits. Secondly, insight is provided in real time, as soon as you purchase something with a TD debit or credit card. In our opinion this takes traditional PFM/Budgeting from a niche use case (that will benefit and be adopted by a precious few who are willing to work hard to set it up and maintain it) and blows it up into a mass market use case that everyone can easily adopt and benefit from. Early results of TD MySpend are showing just that.
- Challenging omni-channel – TD MySpend is a mobile app and for the foreseeable future, it only needs to be a mobile app compatible with other mobile devices like watches. Why? Because TD MySpend’s value is about everyday lifestyle and spending. And everyday lifestyle and spending happens mainly when you are out and about. It happens when you swipe your card or tap your phone. Not on a tablet, and not on your work desktop. So, when many in the banking industry still hold tight to the omni-channel commandment of “equal services across all channels”, TD MySpend is blazing a new trail by following customer behaviors. Over the long term, narrowing the channel focus ought to reduce long term costs and increase speed and agility significantly.
- Leading the way for bank/fintech partnerships – Here are a couple of words that describe the TD MySpend solution approach – cloud based, real time, agile, companion app. How often do these words describe a typical bank/tech vendor solution? We’re working with TD in new ways that test both them and us. Both of us had to define new ways to work so that we could drive rapid innovation at enterprise scale.
We’re very proud to have partnered with TD on MySpend. We couldn’t be more excited by its launch and its gangbuster growth since then. This weekend it was the #2 downloaded app in all of Canada…behind Snapchat but ahead of Facebook, Instagram and Spotify. What’s more… advertising hasn’t even started. How about that for a banking app!
The smartphone revolution is about much more than putting mobile devices into the pockets of people all over the world. It’s largely about giving people access to apps that they can use to simplify their lives.
Through mobile apps, people have taken charge of their personal finances like never before. Consider these three ways that your smartphone can help you take control of your spending:
1. Smartphone Apps Making Banking Easy
According to research from the Pew Research Center, about 57 percent of smartphone owners use their devices for online banking. Apps that connect people to their bank accounts give them more control over their money than traditional bank accounts and paper checks.
Some of the top features to look for in banking apps include options that let you:
- Pay for purchases with your phone
- Link all of your accounts to one location
- Access your account at any time
- Receive notifications to avoid overdraft fees
- Deposit checks remotely
Plus, you can track your spending. If you work freelance, then you can use the app to organize your business expenses. That feature comes in handy when you’re figuring out how much you can deduct on your tax forms.
2. Smartphone Apps Encourage Smart Spending
Managing your personal finances isn’t just about accessing your money. It’s also about spending money in smart ways.
Smartphones have become essential for commuters who want to spend as little money as possible, and the Uber app is a perfect example. When you compare the price of using Uber with the price of using a traditional taxi, it becomes obvious that Uber helps you spend less, especially since you don’t tip Uber drivers. In Los Angeles, a five-mile taxi ride costs $19.62 after tip. Using Uber lowers the price to just $9.40.
The effect on “millennials,” or those reaching adulthood around the year 2000, is huge. The myth is that millennials waste money by buying products and services via their smartphones. The truth is that using a smartphone is a responsible way to manage money, spend mindfully and comparison shop to always get the best prices.
3. Improve Productivity to Make More Money
Some smartphone apps can help you make more money, especially if you work freelance or have a job that pays bonuses for meeting goals. Adding a productivity app to your phone can help ensure that you make enough money to finance your lifestyle while you save for the future.
Some useful apps include:
The new financial landscape is all about putting you in control of your money. When you make your smartphone a central part of your financial plan, it will reward you.
FIs have complex, expensive and rigid IT environments and processes. They live in a poorly integrated batch world while their customers have moved on to a real time – always-on commerce model that they are challenged to support. If it were just as easy as appointing a Chief Innovation/Digital/Cool Dude Officer or establishing a Venture arm we wouldn’t still be where we are. Sadly, hard problems rarely have simple solutions. A recent Citigroup report has predicted a reduction in banking staff of 30% over the next decade. This quantifies the urgent pressures financial services firms are facing. We’ve heard this for years, but this time it is different. Why?
This time it’s different…
There are two drastic changes that make this cycle of disruption and innovation different from prior decades.
The customer is in charge. Customer expectations have leaped forward. A new generation of customers, and a few digital savvy older ones, don’t visit branches, fill out applications, fax documents, and wait 5-7 business days for anything. They expect an always-on digital experience that helps them to do what THEY want to do. They are not interested in YOUR product. In prior years, while the customer wanted a different experience, they didn’t really have any alternatives. Moving from one bank to another was very difficult and often resulted in little more than the color of their plastic changing.
Today, your customers have choices. IT firms, retailers, Telco’s, Fintechs and neo-banks are in the fray disrupting banks, siphoning off profitable customers and services, and filling the void between customer expectations and heritage bank products.
Fintech Competition. Fintech firms have raised $7B USD in January of this year alone. The venture capital market is voting that financial services is in need of disruption and customers are voting with their wallets. Firms such as Betterment, Moven, Lending Club and Stripe are disrupting customer acquisition, payments, wellness, investments and loans. Each of these fintechs have established themselves as formidable competition to any bank by innovating and optimizing the processes that customers care about most. This is being done through a counterintuitive change in business, technology, or model. That’s the bad news. That’s the bet your job news.
Fintech Collaboration. Fintechs provide FIs an opportunity to leapfrog traditional incremental development and deploy digital services better/faster/cheaper with wildly different economics. Chances are, in every strategic process you have today, there are dozens of well-funded Fintech firms focusing on disrupting that process and changing the economics. What happens if they join forces? Ondeck and Chase, Moven and TD are just two examples. Cooperation is enabling the internal disruption that will drive change within an organization, instead of waiting for the disruption to come externally.
The real opportunity is to combine the innovation and unconventional thinking of Fintechs with the reach and resources of traditional financial institutions. In recent research by Cubeyou, when Millennials are asked about relevance, Fintechs like Moven, Gobank and Simple top the list, while the same group rates Chase, American Express and USAA as tops for reach. Collaboration across these dimensions is the key to industry innovation.
A word of caution, the bureaucratic force is strong in FIs. The institutional temptation to either build it or kill it, is the graveyard of many great ideas.
The conservative posture of IT and Risk Management, the vendor hostile orientation of Strategic Sourcing and the Middle Management fear of failure, are a toxic trilogy to thwart real innovation. If you are not failing occasionally, you’re not innovating enough. If it takes longer to negotiate the contract and pick a vendor than it does to do the project, you’re not moving fast enough. If you find yourself falling back to a product orientation, you’re not being new enough. In the endless pursuit of better, faster, cheaper – you’ll need to change your behavior to get different results. FinTechs can help.
Want to hear more? Join us at Money 20/20 Europe on Thursday, April 6th, where we will be talking more in depth about FinTech collaboration.
Just as you think, dress and speak differently from previous generations, chances are you also earn your living differently. More and more people are bringing home the bacon by working freelance jobs in addition to their primary occupation to help make ends meet or to build up savings. Whether you’re a freelancer, an Uber driver, a dog walker or all of the above, if your income is coming from multiple sources, managing those streams can quickly become a complicated mess. Thankfully, there are many tools out there now to help you navigate your finances with ease so that your budgeting stays on track. What’s left up to you is figuring out which option fits you and your lifestyle best!
Accounting websites such as Bill.com are fantastic tools for those with multiple income streams. They allow you to receive all your money in one place, organized according to who paid you and when. This is especially helpful when tax season rolls around so that you don’t have to go back through a year’s worth of bank statements to figure out how much you received and where it came from! The money goes straight into your PayPal account, it’s all itemized for you, and you can even write electronic invoices to send to customers. Easy, right? The great part is that Bill.com offers these services for free; you pay a monthly fee only to upgrade to an account that allows you to receive credit card payments or to have payments go directly to your bank account.
Take Advantage of Free Checking
Does your bank offer free checking accounts? Take advantage of it! Sometimes adding a second checking account can make navigating your finances that much easier. Have all of your income deposited into your primary account and pay your monthly bills out of it, then transfer money to a secondary account for your weekly expenses (gas, food, spending, etc.). Not only does this help you budget better, but it also brings a good degree of order to your accounts. This will make it easy to see all your revenue streams when you look at your bank statement, as your weekly debits won’t be cluttering up your main account ledger. If your bank doesn’t offer free checking, you may want to think about shopping around for a new bank. There are plenty of banks out there that offer free checking, and there’s no reason to pay for something when you don’t have to.
There’s an App for That
It’s true that there’s an app for everything nowadays, and money management is no exception! Many of these apps are free or inexpensive, but they’re invaluable when it comes to getting control of your finances. BillGuard is a great free app that allows you to link your bank accounts directly so that your transactions are automatically imported into the app, then sorted for you. This saves you the hassle of having to input information every time you swipe your debit card. It also shows all your deposits, so you can itemize your income sources easily. Getting your hands on an app that syncs up all your financial info, sorts it for you, and even helps you create a budget is one of the best moves you can make as a freelancer. You’re essentially pooling all your revenue streams into one app, where you can see everything at a glance and make changes as you need.
Whether you’re just getting started with managing multiple income streams or simply trying to find a better way of handling your complex finances, try one of these methods to help you gain control of your money. You may love one method or you can create your own combination; budgeting is all about finding what works for you and sticking with it!
Want to hear more? Tune in to our livestream with the Freelancers Union and General Assembly today (Wed, March 30th) at 2:00pm EST!
With New Advances in Technology, Luxury Services are Just a Click Away
We live in an incredible time where luxury goods and services once reserved for the elite are available at the push of a button. Apps like Uber, BlueApron, and AirBnB offer anyone with a smartphone and a little extra cash the chance feel like a VIP on a budget. With sleek design, reasonable prices, and great service, these apps particularly appeal to millennials still making their way through entry-level jobs.
The avalanche of on-demand apps hitting the market every week have ultimately simplified how we go about our days. It’s much easier to press a button and request an Uber than it is to wait for the subway after a night out. And who hasn’t thought about calling for an on-demand massage through apps like Zeel after a long day at work? If you’re willing to pay a small premium, these services will allow you to live the 1% life on a 99% budget. Here are a few things to consider before Uber-fying your life.
A lot of the value in these on-demand services lies in their ability to save users time. You can outsource your household chores through apps like Washio and TaskRabbit, leaving you free to get some extra work done or spend time with friends. Meal delivery apps like Seamless and Postmates save you the hassle of picking up a meal at your favorite take-out spot or (the horror!) using your own kitchen. Ultimately, your time is worth a lot, and by paying for these services, you’re buying yourself a few more minutes in your day. What you choose to do with that time is totally up to you.
Helping in the Long Run
Much of the appeal of many of these new apps lies in instant gratification. Why walk or take public transportation when you can have your own black car drive you around town for a nominal fee? Why cook when you can order gourmet food straight to your door? Some services may save you time and money in the long run, by helping you learn a new skill or travel on a budget. BlueApron, for example, gives new chefs the tools they need to start cooking healthy meals. Ideally, after some time using this service, you’ll have the confidence and skills to shop and cook on your own.
Unlocking New Experiences
One of the best things about these services is that they offer users access to new experiences. Advances in technology combined with the millennial generation’s embrace of the share economy has made services like vacation rentals and personal styling more accessible to all. AirBnB, for example, makes it easy for users to rent a luxury home for a few nights, often for less than a night at a standard hotel. The site often lists unique accommodations, as well – users can treat themselves to a weekend getaway in a decked-out tree house or a retro airstream trailer. These new low-cost housing options have made travel more affordable (and memorable) for all.
With new apps and services launching every day, anyone can feel like a rock star on an entry-level budget. On-demand services can save you time and money while giving you access to unique experiences once reserved for a select few. Who says private cars and luxury accommodations are just for the elite? With these new services, almost anyone can hack their way into a luxury lifestyle.
It’s been said that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. It may be necessary to add a third: procrastination. According to the Internal Revenue Service, roughly 25 percent of American taxpayers wait until the last two weeks of taxpaying season to prepare their returns.
But why? You don’t want to be bogged down with boring forms when you’re trying to make money and build your business. You also don’t want to find out you owe Uncle Sam more than you thought — and not be ready to make that payment.
Take a look at these tips on how to ease the burden at tax time and manage your finances better. You owe it to yourself.
Take Advantage of Common Deductions
One perk of being a freelancer, contractor or other self-employed worker is that there are many deductions — even ones you may not have considered — that can reduce the burden at tax time. Remember to keep all your records, set up a business bank account and to not go overboard with deductions (be honest with the government here!).
The most common deductions that will immediately benefit you include your home office, health insurance costs, contract labor expenses, and retirement fund savings (like a contribution to a traditional 401k). Other deductions that can help include:
- Advertising expenses
- Business travel costs
- Office supplies and rent
- Repairs and maintenance
- Legal and professional services
Think of any expenses that you had to make for your business. Many of these can be deducted from your income, and thus reduce how much you must pay in taxes.
Should You Pay Taxes Quarterly Or Annually?
The simple answer is both. If you carry on a profession or business as an independent contractor or sole proprietor, belong to a partnership or union that carries on a trade or business, or are working for yourself in some way, you are considered self-employed. That means you have to pay your taxes as stipulated by the IRS.
Hence, you must not only file an annual return, you must also pay estimated tax quarterly. Note that taxes include an income tax as well as a self-employment tax, which goes toward Social Security and Medicare.
If you paid less than $1000 in taxes last year, then you can still pay annually (quarterly payments aren’t required). However, if your self-employment income is going to rise significantly, it’s best to pay quarterly so that you’re not stuck with a hefty payment at the end of tax season.
So how do you make sure you’re making accurate payments each quarter? You can base a lot of what you pay this year off what you paid in taxes last year. If you paid a total of $3,600 in taxes last year and expect a similar income this year, it’s advised to pay $900 quarterly. Use Form 1040-ES to figure out a good estimate of how much you’ll owe at the end of each quarter and for the total year.
Software to Help You Stay on Track
When you’re running a business, keeping track of finances and taxes can be time-consuming. And if you want to hire someone, it can be unnecessarily costly. Lucky for you, mobile apps can make the process seamless — and save you money.
For instance, apps can help you track, understand and manage your business expenses throughout the year. There is also tax software available specifically for self-employed individuals that can help you maximize tax savings each quarter.
In the end, reducing the burden at tax time is a matter of you consistently managing your income and business expenses, and also making every effort to prepare yourself for payments. Understanding self-employment taxes and using advanced software certainly reduces the amount of time and stress involved. But the key is to stick to a plan. And don’t procrastinate.
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