Case studies

Little Birdie subscription app helps drive better money management

13 February 2024

Little Birdie is a subscription and bill management app provider that allows consumers to save money on unused or unwanted subscriptions and recurring payments.

In the UK, estimates suggest that as much as £25 billion is wasted every year due to unused and unmonitored monthly payments. And more recently a Citizen’s Advice survey reported that two million people are struggling to cancel continuous payments for subscriptions, while in 2022 £0.5 billion was spent on subscriptions that auto-renewed without people realising.

As cost-of-living challenges continue to bite, the Little Birdie subscription and tracker app aims to make it easy for consumers to monitor and manage their subscriptions all in one place. It offers total visibility of outgoing subscription payments, as well as the ability to cancel and switch subscriptions within the app.

Staying on top of subscriptions and monthly bills
Little Birdie was launched in late 2022 and, according to founders Martin Bould and Jeremy Taylor, is the “wise bird on your shoulder whispering sage advice”.

The company estimates that the average household has between 10 and 20 subscriptions and regular payments, when utility bills, mobile phones, broadband, and other costs such as mortgages, are taken into account.

Research commissioned by the team in September 2022 found that 32% of respondents aged 18-to-34 expressed regret about subscriptions they had bought during the pandemic. Meanwhile, 41% were worried that regular subscription payments could push them into debt.

“The more we spoke to people and the more research we conducted, we kept uncovering insight around the problems of staying on top of subscriptions and recurring payments,” said Martin.

“There would be instances where people would see price increases coming through retrospectively on their bills and they wouldn’t understand why. And with the cost of living pushing households to the edge, we could see there was a space for a simple solution that gave people more control over their finances. That was the concept behind our app.”

Clear visibility
Little Birdie was built to directly address five problems that customers told Jeremy and Martin they were facing.

First was the ability to see all subscriptions in one place. Secondly, to help manage those subscriptions and allow users to set up notifications such as free trial and data alerts, price rise alerts, or contract end and renewal alerts.

The next step was to enable them to find better deals, developing price comparison functionality, and allowing customers to either switch or cancel, both of which are supported by the app’s ‘Click to Cancel’ feature, available for almost 400 merchants.

The starting point for this five-stage approach was open banking, which offered a route for bringing in subscription data.

Connecting through open banking
Little Birdie offers its service via a partnership with data intelligence platform Bud. Bud provides AI-powered transaction and data intelligence capabilities to companies around the world. Its machine learning technology transforms transactional data into insights that help clients to understand their customers, and in turn to highlight where they spend, how they can save, and which financial services might be relevant for them.

Through FCA-authorised Bud, Little Birdie’s customers can connect their accounts to the app using open banking. Bud’s ‘Engage’ product then enriches their transactions, allowing them to identify and manage their recurring payments and subscriptions, including cancelling those they no longer use.

It connects the app directly and securely to their bank and allows Little Birdie to identify their regular payments. This allows them to manage their subscriptions in one place – viewing, switching and cancelling.

Enabling better decisions through actionable insight

Little Birdie currently has 17,000 subscribers, of which half are active. Of those engaged users, 4,500 people have connected at least one bank account or credit card to the service.

Working with Bud, Little Birdie is able to pull fully enriched transactional data into its app. Little Birdie then builds on this enriched data to further identify subscriptions and surface these to the user.

Martin said: “Payment information is pulled into Little Birdie via open banking and categorised by a combination of Bud’s platform and Little Birdie’s. We use the enriched data to provide a dashboard of spend analysis and insight-based recommendations to our customers.”

And the team believes most households could make significant savings. Little Birdie calculates that an average customer with a connected bank account could have at least 10 subscriptions and regular payments that could be optimised. This could lead to potential cost savings of £500 to £1,000.

Enabling innovation through open banking
Evolving from its roots in B2C personal financial management, Bud identified opportunities to work with existing providers, utilising AI and open banking to enhance their propositions.

Using AI and open banking from the outset, the company works with a range of UK and global financial institutions.

Thomas Purton, Senior Product Manager for Engage at Bud, is charged with building a suite of features that helps customers do more with open banking data once they’ve got it.

He explained: “It’s not just about the information that you can see – we want to see the really interesting insights, what we can do with this data and what kind of intelligence can we get off the back of it. How can it add value to these end-customers?

“Through our transactional intelligence, we’re able to ingest data from the banks and from there enrich it, add more context and pull out things like categorisation, subscription type, merchant and so on. What it then allows us to do, in a very nice and easy way, is provide analysis back to Little Birdie’s customers.”

By giving consumers greater visibility of recurring transactions such as subscriptions and Direct Debits, apps such as Little Birdie can enable them to tackle ‘set and forget’ subscription traps, make valuable cost savings, and help to improve their longer-term financial resilience.

Notes to editors

Open Banking Limited does not endorse any of the products or companies mentioned here.

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