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How consumers use money management apps

As part of our latest Impact Report we conducted additional research from independent research agency Marketing Means. In it, we interviewed a small number of UK consumers, from a range of age groups and income brackets, who shared their experience of using some of the market-leading open banking apps to help them manage and control their personal finances.

For some people, their money management app has proved to be a revelation, giving them a clear and categorised view of their spending over time that is easy to comprehend and action – unlike most bank statements.

Improved money management

They reported that this has improved their understanding of their financial position and helped them feel more in control of their finances. In turn, this has engendered a higher level of confidence in managing their money and financial decision-making.

Some interviewees indicated that this was motivating them to engage more with their finances and manage them more effectively. This is encouraging given that one of the CMA’s stated aims of open banking was to empower customers to engage more effectively with financial and banking services.

Identifying wasteful spending

They also appreciated – and trust – the information they receive about their spending, as well as for most individuals, the pointers to where they can cut wasteful expenditure or find better deals, particularly around product renewals and subscriptions.

Other people reported the benefit of having an enhanced overview of their finances – perhaps using their app to see across multiple current and savings accounts. While these individuals generally had a good understanding of their financial situation, they were looking for a quicker and easier way to see their overall position.

We share some of their insights and observations.

Two houses, all my outgoings, credit cards, and utilities – it lets me see what’s coming up.

Q. What are the best aspects of using a personal financial management (PFM) app that you’ve experienced?

A. “Another good thing is the way it gives me suggestions on where to save money, for example when I’ve wound up having streaming services that duplicate each other. And pointing that out to me, in a really useful way, how much I could save. And I can pin the suggestions, so I can come back to them later.”

A. “The prime benefit is efficiency – cutting down on time and the process required to see all my accounts, and to be able to view and access them in one place.”

A. “It takes away the donkey work of finding new deals. And I always feel in control – they put the offer in front of you, but you decide.”

Q. Was the app easy to use and did it help you understand your finances better?

A.”I really can see my money so much more, through the way it puts it into categories. I’m managing two houses now that my mum’s moved in with me. Being able to see all the expenses in categories allows me to have more control and cuts down on the mistakes I was making before.”

A. “Yes, I’m going completely app-based as much as I can, because online banking through the browser really has become so inconvenient. It really is undermined by so much laborious security.”

A. “It did confirm that we’ve been spending a lot on groceries – £10,000 on Ocado. We used to buy these pizza kits, they’re really nice but at £16 a kit, it soon adds up. We used to order things because we wanted to see what they were like. We’re cutting down on that now. But I think we cut down because of the hit on our income from lockdown, I wouldn’t say it was because of the app. Maybe because I can see it a bit clearer.”

A. “I’m more likely to look at switching deals through the app than on price comparison websites, when it comes to renew. Because the app is more active in sending me suggestions, it will get my attention more.”

I’m more likely to look at switching deals through the app than on comparison websites when it comes to renew.

Q. Will you continue to use and expand your use of open banking services in the long-term?

A. “When I’m out of contract, I will certainly do something about my mobile contract. And I’m not really someone who has switched a lot before, it can be too much bother. But it is encouraging me by showing me what the jump is going to be when I go out of contract. The difference to something like USwitch, when they show me savings it feels more theoretical, will I really make that saving? Whereas the app really does know my spending, so I can trust what it says about how much I’ll save.”

Q. Did the app help you manage your finances?

A. “Two houses, all my outgoings, credit cards, and utilities. It lets me see what’s coming up. I’m now better at managing it all, my old spreadsheets couldn’t cope. Previously I did miss things and then wound up paying overdraft charges.”

A. “Because I can see my money easier and have more control, I feel encouraged to increase my saving, to put more money away.”

Q. Has the app helped improve your financial wellbeing?

A. “That I can get all my accounts in one place, that I can see my spending in categories, that I can assign categories myself, that I can see my spending over time – that is all really motivating me to make my situation better.”

A. “I feel more assured. Because I can see my spending so much easier this way, it feels as though I’m more protected against fraud on my account, because I would see it easily and quickly.”

A. “The app is really relevant to me now, as I’ve gone back to being a student, so with a limited income I have to watch my spending.”

You can read the full report here.

Notes

A total of 4,014 consumers took part in the survey between 25th August and 14th September 2021, of whom 464 claimed to have used any of the nine Third Party Provider (TPP) apps and gave the correct description of its purpose, and went on to form the core sample for this piece of research.

The survey fieldwork approach consisted of two elements. The first and largest was the use of an online consumer panel run by a UK-based provider, which offered an excellent way of contacting a large and broadly representative sample of the UK general public aged 16+, drawn from 450,000 UK panellists. You can find out more about the methodology in the full report.