A new Australian financial tech start-up, that has recently launched, has set out to help consumers stop bleeding thousands of dollars year in year out in high interest rates and fees, and earn more bang for their buck from banks and financial institutions.
Founded by a banking and finance expert, Monetise is a secure money–saving platform matches consumers with the best savings and transactions accounts, credit cards, superannuation and home loans on the market.
Monetise gives a holistic view of one’s financial health: how much you cough up each month to your bank in fees, how much interest you are raking in, and how you can save thousands by consolidating or switching accounts to a product better suited to your specific needs.
This first-of-its-kind technology has undergone rigorous testing over the past 18 months.
A trial of about 100 Australian beta users who linked three or four of their accounts with Monetise in late 2014 helped uncover an average of $2020 in savings per person, per year across their existing financial products.
These trial customers found that on average, they could save $1780 on their home loan, earn an extra $1450 on their term deposits, gain $425 in unearned interest, save $242 on superannuation and save $151 on their credit card debt, by switching to the best products on the market as dug up by Monetise.
How exactly does Monetise work?
First of all, with the customer’s permission, Monetise collates their financial information — quickly, securely, and anonymously.
Monetise then compares this to the optimum fees and interest given by the best products in the market using smart powerful algorithms, and offers the customer better deals from their banks, solutions tailored specifically for them.
Within a few clicks, the customer gets an “M-Score”, a single score that assesses their financial health and tells them whether their money is underperforming, average or optimised.
Basically, it flips ‘big data’ on its head and helps consumers and banks speak the same language.
Think iSelect on steroids, but unlike comparison sites, it’s completely free and independent. Monetise is part of the next wave of disruptive consumer banking tech in Australia.
And the best part about it is that it’s a ‘set-and-forget’ service – once you sign up, link your accounts, get your financial health check-up, Monetise will continue to monitor the market in real-time, only recommending products that provide significant savings to you.
Furthermore, Monetise is extremely secure – it uses an interface trusted globally by major banks and institutions, no money can be moved over the service, it never links customer identity with their data, and data is never disclosed without customer permission.
What is the story behind Monetise?
Monetise, a self-funded start-up, was founded by ex-McKinsey & Company consultant Gideon Silverman, who has worked with leading financial institutions in Australia and South-East Asia, after he helped his mother to save $10,000 on her banking products, by presenting her financial information in a way that got her the best deals.
The company is led by CEO Taichi Hoshino (pictured above), a fellow ex-McKinsey & Company consultant, who has worked across retail, telecommunications, financial services and airlines.
“The average consumer isn’t getting the best deal they can from their banking products,” Taichi remarked. “There is too much industry jargon in bank marketing, and banks and consumers are frankly talking different languages.”
“Switching providers or negotiating better deals with the banks are not straightforward tasks. At the same time, comparison websites aren’t making it easy enough for consumers to identify the best products for them,” he added.
“We’ve created a truly different secure, unobtrusive platform that will save consumers thousands of dollars with a free financial health check-up.”
One Monetise user, Sydney-based entrepreneur Shaun Greenblo, found he was missing out on $3700 per year from unpaid interest after the bonus interest rate on his savings account lapsed.
“Owning a few small businesses, I’m already quite aware of my finances and I like to keep on top of them,” Shaun shared. “I tried Monetise because I wanted to see if there was any further opportunity to improve my finances — but I was pretty confident I was doing OK. So I was pretty horrified to learn my MScore was only 28!”
“Monetise told me that the bonus interest rate with my savings account had lapsed and as a result I was earning about 2.4 per cent interest, when I could have been earning 4.05 per cent.”
“It wasn’t even about changing to a better offer at a different institution. Banks will never tell you when your bonus interest rate drops,” he added. “My fiancée is now using it too and she too found she was missing out on interest she could have been earning.”
What is Monetise’s business model?
Seeing as Monetise neither takes commissions nor charges its customers, it is currently not earning any revenue but Anthill has learned that this all part of the plan – as a consumer first platform, they feel it’s essential to get that part of the idea right first.
“We have a staged business model,” CEO Taichi told Anthill. “We’ve been excited by the take-up of Monetise since our launch – our customer base is growing rapidly and at one point we were doubling every day.”
“It’s an interesting time for Australian financial institutions,” he remarked. “Customer visibility is poor, driving broader and deeper customer relationships can be difficult, and the sector isn’t competitive.”
“Currently, we’re spending a lot of time understanding our customers’ needs, and we can see that improving the way banks and customers interact is going to be valuable to both sides.”
“In the future, we’ll look at ways to help the banks develop more relevant and attractive products for consumers,” Taichi revealed. “Ultimately, there will be a number of areas we’d like to explore with institutions.”
“In the near future, based on customer feedback, we’ll look to expand the service across broader range of other products, such as insurance, telecommunications, gas and utilities, retail, banking and rewards programs,” he further disclosed.