Money Matters. Are You up to Speed with FinTech?
Financial technology, or fintech, start-ups are doing for cash what Uber did for taxis and Amazon for shopping. Here’s Niki Chesworth’s guide…
PEACE OF MIND? Keep an eye on what you owe, your credit rating and any new borrowing (in case you are a victim of fraud), using a credit rating service or app. Noddle, the free-for-life credit score company, is only available online (noddle.co.uk) and gives you a monthly report.
Grow your savings
(moneyboxapp.com) works like a virtual piggy bank for your spare change. Simply connect a credit card or current account to the app, and every time you make a purchase using your card you can put the change away for a rainy day. So if you spend £2.40 on a coffee, the app will round it up to £3, and 60p is saved on the app. Moneybox says its average user squirrels away £440 a year just from these pennies. At the end of each week, your spare change is put into a stocks and shares ISA. You can stick the bulk in a low-risk cash fund but also split it between two other investment funds to get a better potential return (with some risk) by investing in some of the world’s biggest companies. You can only have one ISA but can put your Moneybox cash into a Junior ISA for each child. Fees are £1 a month (free for first three months) and 0.45% of the value of the fund.
(nutmeg.com) is good for anyone who wants to start investing rather than seeing their money languishing in a savings account, plus you can save it tax-free in an ISA. You can start with as little as £500 (£100 per month if saving regularly) and have as many savings pots as you want (up to the £20,000-a-year limit) – such as for a holiday, a new car, a deposit for your children’s first home. There are five portfolios to choose from to suit your risk level – so stick long-term investments in higher risk funds and short-term savings in the lower risk one. You can also track and move money around within the ISA from your smartphone, and withdraw money when you like. Fees are 0.75% of the money invested, and the company, which is backed by some big venture capital firms, is FCA regulated.
(atombank. co.uk) is for the risk-averse. You will need a smartphone and, once again, it is easy to set up. If you are worried about fraud or losing your money, the protection is the same as for other banks (up to £85,000 covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme), and Atom is backed by some large investment firms. However, unlike other banks, you get a better return. Tie your cash up for one year, and you’ll earn 1.95%; tie it up for two years and that rises to 2.1%. The minimum investment is £50.
KEEP TABS ON SPENDING
T (yolt.com) pulls together all your banking bills and balances into one app (you need to add accounts entering your online banking security details) so you can see just how much you’re spending, and on what. You might be shocked by your ASOS or Amazon habit. It means you no longer have to juggle between various apps or log onto multiple online accounts, and Yolt also gives you a true balance taking into account upcoming debits. You can set spending limits per category. Owned by ING, one of Europe’s leading banks, it has the same level of security as other banking apps.
(ontrees.com) personal finance app also lets you view all your bank accounts in one place and see how your money is coming in (hopefully) and going out (more likely). It splits your spending into categories such as restaurants, groceries, and household bills, so it’s a good starting point to get on top of your finances and help you to budget. As with Yolt, you will have to link your accounts to the app using the same banking information you use to access your online banking. It is ideal if you have more than one bank account, as you don’t have to switch from one app to the other. It’s owned by MoneySuperMarket, so from a big name, and is “read-only” so you can’t use to it access your cash – only to see where it is going.
(starlingbank.com) is a mobile-only bank, offering everything you’d expect from a traditional one, including sort code and account number, so you can pay your bills and people instantly with Faster Payments. You can pay in cash electronically and use ATMs. There are zero charges when you use your contactless Mastercard all over the world, and you can set up direct debts and standing orders. You will earn 0.5% on balances up to £2,000, and 0.25% on balances above £2,000 and up to £85,000, and there are no account fees. It is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority
✢ Don’t want the hassle? Then make the most of all your online banking facilities and download your current account app. It can help you monitor your account for potential fraud, you can pay contacts without the need to write cheques or trek to the cash machine, and also track standing orders and direct debits.
✢ Don’t want to give up on bricks and mortar? If you still want to be able to visit a branch but want a better deal with a fee-free bank, opt for a hybrid such as Metro Bank (metrobankonline. co.uk) and download its app.
✢ Want easy cash payments? Try Monzo (monzo.com) – a cross between a budgeting app and a prepaid credit card so you can monitor your cash spend on a day-to-day basis (don’t forget the odd treat). It’s great if you (or your kids) travel frequently, as there are zero charges for spending abroad.
SHOP AND SAVE
If you aren’t using a cashback site, you are really missing a trick. Every time you spend, you get money back – it’s that simple. TopCashback (topcashback. co.uk). Log into your favorite retailers via TopCashback and you’ll get a cut of the advertising commission (between 1 and 5%).