The Reckoning: Why we need our bank to help us save better, now more than ever

Originally published at: https://blog.jupiter.money/2020/07/digital-banking-and-better-savings/

I recently learnt about a very interesting cultural code. The Amish, who are known for their aversion to technology (we’re talking television and cars), have a distinct method of choosing what technology they allow into their lives. The bearings they select are usually value-driven and purposeful. Essentially, they adopt a much more nuanced approach to the use of modern tech.

Most of us today live quite contrary to the Amish, if I were to make that blatant assumption. We’ve allowed modern technology to seep into every single aspect of our lives – from toothbrushes with timestamps to Alexa-powered homes. We let artificial intelligence and social media tell us how to live (evidenced by an Instagram feed that’s filled with fairy lights and intergalactic-themed sneakers). 

So it’s quite astonishing that in the age of interactive VR movies and robot waiters, there’s a fundamental area of our lives that remains untouched by modern tech; an aspect that fuels this overly-consumerist lifestyle in the first place – Saving money.

In fact, the banking apps on our phones (the ones that are supposed to help us manage our money on the go) have done frustratingly little to help us save, and consistently failed to add value to our everyday lives. So much so that if we were to take the Amish approach to tech, we might just shun them altogether.

Banking today, and its role in our saving struggle

Our founder has an interesting way to sum up everything that’s wrong with banking today: “Looks digital, feels analog”. This is the most lucid description of the subject at hand, yet conveying the ‘deepest feels’ (pardon the use of this very millennial term). Which leads me down to the path of understanding how our current banking setup impacts our ability to save.

We surveyed users about their biggest saving concerns and here’s what we found:

  • 34% of respondents didn’t know where to put their savings 
  • 22% weren’t regular with their savings, while 15% ended up spending what they should have saved. 

People don’t feel they’re equipped with the right tools to save, and a lot of it is entrusted to sheer self-control. Money is complex, and providing personalized methods to save is a far cry from what our current banking experience offers. Our banks mostly act as a dummy locker to store moolah, rather than a smart advisor of all things money.  

The takeaway from this is clear as day: As digital natives, our lifestyle encompasses manifold goals, and a cookie-cutter approach to savings with unintelligible jargon such as ‘Xtra FD’ does nothing to soothe our senses. To top that, we’re also usually left dealing with disappearing relationship managers and a mumbo-jumbo of incomprehensible investment terms and conditions, making us pretty damn clueless about how to save or invest our money. We need an overhaul, for real.

So what does banking reimagined actually look like?

Imagine a setup where all you had to do was input your goals with the date that you want to achieve it and let your bank do the rest? From saving regularly, to investing smartly. 

Like if your app auto-saves a sum of ₹1,000 every time you run a marathon, for your goal of purchasing a suave pair of sneakers. And it also invests 10% of your bill, every single time you splurge on a Venti Latte at Starbucks (Goodbye Starbucks addiction). Think of this setup as hiring a spiritual guide for your savings. They show you the path and get you closer to your goals. 

“And then what, Dr. Phil?” Invest it; automatically of course, based on your past behavior, risk appetite, and current market conditions. Obviously, those are three traits with the pesky habit of changing ever so often – but your banking app should be able to change or update your investment recommendations accordingly.

In fact, you never have to let your savings just…idle around. That’s where a modern banking app should not only be able to figure out the excess money you have, but move it into higher-yield, low-risk instruments like Liquid Mutual Funds and RDs. 

“Oh boy! Sounds wild! Too bad none of this is real.”

Well, here’s the good news: An autonomous future for your money is pretty much on the horizon. And that’s the new banking experience we’re building. And we’d love for you to build it with us, one feature at a time. We’re not sure if the Amish will be pleased, but we sure as hell hope you are.

4 Likes

Well articulated! It’s a great idea to have a percentage of the bill amount being saved in a separate bucket that associates with a goal. One key aspect would be to differentially grow the respective goal bucket at a rate higher than the savings account rate. At present this is mostly being done manually.

I feel one of the ways to imbibe confidence is to build an experimental Savings pot, where a user gets to divide the proposed savings into say three buckets -

  • In the first, he/she invests based on his appetite - driven by his / her instincts
  • Second, the Robo advisor chooses the portfolio based on the appetite/profile collated
  • Third, auto investment. the Robo advisor chooses the portfolio to maximize returns (irrespective of your appetite)

If we are able to convince users to try this with a marginal investment and show how each bucket has performed, and if the auto investment feature consistently provides higher returns, then it will slowly become a preferred choice.

The key could be to let users see for themselves - It will be more like gamification were you compete with the machine and also gladly lose! (The firm can also reward people who beat the machines with their choice of portfolio.)

This can be started with a small amount (say INR 500 in each bucket / or the marginal goal-based amount accumulated) before the user actually starts committing for a long term goal-based investment driven by algorithms. (This is applicable for users who still need to develop the confidence)

Do let me know your thoughts, @sahil-sorathiya @sneh.baxi

3 Likes

Hi Krishnan, very interesting thoughts here. We’re definitely looking to build savings pots for different goals.

Using Robo advisory to automate investments is definitely the way forward! They’re becoming part of the mainstream globally, and most of us would be relieved to have such tasks automated. The way we see it, it’s also an unbiased method that saves us a ton of time. Not to mention the information overload a user is put through when it comes to anything ‘investment’. With account aggregators gearing up to launch their platforms, we see this becoming a reality in the near future.

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