FinTech profile: Yolt - the smart money app
Yolt was born out of a simple mission: to give everyone the power to be smart with their money.
The fintech, which launched in the UK in 2017, does this through innovative technology and a collaborative approach.
According to CEO Frank Jan Risseeuw, “we built Yolt to enable people to experience the power of open banking for themselves”.
With that in mind, Yolt believes that money - and managing that money - shouldn’t be difficult, or be a bore. Rather, it should be simple, intuitive and use technology, smart insights and tools.
The Yolt proposition is based on Open Banking, which revolves around giving greater power to the customer.
In short, instead of banks owning banking data, this is owned by customers, giving them the power to share it with licensed third parties.
Open Banking also means that licensed providers - like Yolt - can sync a customer’s bank accounts using secure APIs.
Yolt: smart money in action
Yolt was formed as a venture of ING Bank NV.
Since its launch in 2017, the company has spread to more than 500,000 users and launched in Italy and France.
The company’s app - available on the Apple Store and Google Play - lets users spend, stay on track and reach specific financial goals.
Having one central financial app ends ‘app juggling’. Through Yolt, users can log in and see all their accounts - including Nationwide, Santander, Barclays, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, RBX, Natwest and Ulster Bank.
In total, Yolt users can sync and view more than 77 current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and pensions and investments.
Understandably, hosting such data means that security is paramount.
Accordingly, Yolt provides bank-level security that ensures customer information is guarded and protected.
This includes state-of-the-art encryption technology and identity verification.
Yolt users must unlock their app using a PIN, fingerprint or FaceID and, because of Open Banking, the company never stores login credentials on its servers.
Other features of Yolt include:
- Smart balance - overall balance is shown as a smart balance, which tells users how much of their money will go on bills and shopping, as well as how much will be left for other uses.
- Average spending reports - all data is hosted in one place and shows average spending. This allows users to set realistic spending targets and assess financial progress.
- Contactless payments - Yolt is to introduce a dedicated payment feature, Yolt Pay, that will allow the moving of money between accounts, and the ability to transfer it to friends and family. Yolt Pay is currently in the beta testing phase.
- Progress tracking and budget setting - Yolt enables the setting of monthly budgets and tracks progress against these budgets.
Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem
The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?
John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.
Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:
Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?
It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started.
While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk.
Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand.
I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.
When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic.
Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?
I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.
Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.
The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC.
I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives.
Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss?
Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement.
Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.