Insight Type

How consumers use savings 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 wide range of age groups and income brackets, who shared their experience of the market-leading savings apps.

How can apps help the saving habit?

Open banking savings apps offer a handy, ‘low impact’ way of helping individuals to save.

This works in two ways: providing an additional means of saving for more established savers, or in some cases, provide a way of saving to individuals who have otherwise struggled to do so.

Most of the savers we spoke to thought that their ability to save effectively was enhanced by using these apps, and they expected to continue to use them.

They typically appreciated the way in which their app could enable regular saving for them in the background and found it convenient and enjoyable. Particularly when it brought them an unexpected boost in savings – however small.

The idea is that these features help consumers to save without having to think about it, enabling them to gradually build up their savings.

Many consumers said they enjoyed trying out these new ways of saving and that there was some fun and enjoyment in the process.

While they understood that it might take some time to see a significant difference in their overall level of savings, several of those customers interviewed felt that using the app had helped them build a sustainable savings habit.

Several customers felt that using the app had helped them build a sustainable savings habit

Seeing savings build up

Nearly two-thirds of users reported that their overall level of savings had gone up since they started using a savings app.

However, a further 20% said that they had not been using the app long enough to tell, (not unexpected since nearly one third had only used the app for less than three months) with only 13% indicating that their savings had not increased.

Here’s what the interviewees said about how using an app had impacted their savings habits.  

Q. What are the positive aspects of using your savings app?

A. “I really like the saving round-up feature. I’d say overall they’ve met my expectations and exceeded them. And using it, I’ve matured as a saver.”

A. “It’s all very easy. How much goes in varies, as it runs itself in the background, but I really like the way I can slow down or speed up the savings rate through the app. It really gives me confidence that if I’m having a heavy week, I can adjust it.”

A. “I save through two apps. One has a fairly standard account but there are some issues with getting money out of that one. I’ve had some delays on withdrawals, so I tend just to leave the money in there. On the other app, I’m more engaged as I’ve got money going into two funds. One is a standard one but the other one has a higher risk rating. I enjoy doing that one. It’s satisfying seeing what happens with it, and fun as well.”

A. “The advantage was, I didn’t want to replace my bank account, so I didn’t want to go down a Monzo route. I wanted an additional savings facility that would link to different accounts I have.”

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

A.”I really like how the app slows me down. Because it’s a restricted access, I can’t just dip into it as I have done in the past with others. But also, that makes me reflect and means I can think about my money more. It’s changed the way I am with money, for the better.”

A. “I like the flexibility. You can dial the savings rate up and down. You can boost a payday. I can use it flexibly to save when I’ve had a bonus. And I like the way they describe the investment plans – ‘standard’, ‘balanced’ – I think that’s a useful way to explain them, easy to understand. The app has a really good dashboard, it almost feels as if you’re getting a bespoke savings service that’s easy to use.”

A. ” I was attracted by the way it saves in the background, so you hardly notice it’s happening. When I started, I thought I’d build up a substantial fund really quickly. I’ve got a more realistic view now, but I’m still really happy with it.”

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

A. ” Yes, I definitely feel more engaged with the saving I’m doing because of using the app. I do like to watch it grow, and I check it most days during the week. I’m now thinking about what more I can do. For example, I’m now interested in looking at my pension. Also, I think I’ll consider looking at the investment side of things and crowdfunding.”

I definitely feel more engaged with the saving I’m doing because of using the app. I like to watch it grow, and I check it most days.

A. “I think I will try the investments through the app. I’ve done crypto trading in the past and that was fun, but this looks different, more mature and longer term. Yes, I would do it through the app as they seem very focused on saving.”

A. “I have been saving for holiday in Bali. But once that’s out of the way, I think I’ll move onto stocks and shares. So, this is another way to save. My ISA is maxed out and I see that investment charges through the app are lower than on my investment platform.”

Watch our short video to see how savings apps work.

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 find out more about the methodology in the full report.