At Cyber-Duck, we love exploring new trends, techniques and technologies through our R&D programme. Our annual Quack Hack is a firm favourite. Every year, the Ducks flock to our Elstree headquarters for an intense but fun weekend where we create new products in just 24 hours. Read more about how you run a hackathon.
My team were challenged to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and/or Open Banking to create a money management app that allows a user to budget. We could have explored a business budgeting app that could predict cash flow, or a travel planner for getaways to specific applications. Overall, our project must deliver a nicely presented application as well as a good use of data. The Magnificent Seven included Matt, Sofia, Tom, Fabiola, Connor, Javi, Raymond and a guest appearance from Veronica on Sunday.
This is Reverie, our AI-driven PWA that helps people achieve their dreams.
Financial landscape analysis
We kicked-off the weekend with research into the financial landscape.
What is open banking?
Driven by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Open Banking and the Second Payment Services Directive revolutionise how banks manage your financial information. This came into effect in January 2018.
The CMA believe that “Open Banking will mean reliable, personalised financial advice, precisely tailored to your particular circumstances delivered securely and confidentially.”
All UK-regulated banks now have to let you share your financial data with vetted providers, as long as you give permission. This financial data could include your spending habits or regular payments. Examples of this include financial budget planners and money management apps.
This ruling presents a huge challenge to banks. They have been able to leverage their ownership of customer data to defend their market position against innovative, nimble fintech startups.
Our team at the start of the weekend.
Why is financial planning becoming so important?
Financial planning and money management is playing an increasingly crucial role in our lives, but it is rarely taught at a young age. As such, when people start earning an income for the first time, and paying expenses as a result, it is typically up to their parents, or their own initiative to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, many older people also suffer from a lack of financial education and may pass on bad habits. This has compounded into a nationwide culture where people find it incredibly difficult to save money to achieve their financial goals.
Fundamentally, the ability to reach your financial goals comes down to one simple rule: spend less than you earn and save the rest. Naturally, this can be difficult for many people with higher expenses or lower incomes, which is where budgeting comes in. By getting a grasp of your overall spend in key categories such as bills, food, eating out and shopping, it is possible to identify opportunities to reduce spend and allocate those funds towards savings goals.
User-centred development process
We kicked-off our weekend with a brainstorm based on our financial budget planner brief. Initially, we settled on budgeting for holidays – coming up with ideas like spend prediction, AI recommendations for savings and historical network spend.
Our UX Designers, Matt and Fabiola grabbed our trusty post-it notes and we created user stories based on holiday planning. These focused on the emotional side of saving – wanting to make dreams come true, get control over finance and not wanting to think about money while on a break.
Matt leads our UX brainstorm.
Identifying with these emotional drivers got us thinking about the biggest expenditure most people face across their lives: homes, weddings, holidays and cars. Most people set a ballpark budget then feel overwhelmed by how far they have to go. We decided that we wanted to create a financial budget planner that could solve this challenge.
Our offering of financial planning for key life moments could help our app stand out in a crowded marketplace. Our UX approach was also a differentiator. 28% of 700 senior industry leaders polled by Econsultancy agreed that the optimisation of customer experience was the single most exciting opportunity for the financial services in 2018. That’s 10% more than in other sectors.
Design and features
Using Open Banking and AI, our money management app should connect with a user’s current account, crunch the figures and intelligently suggest where they can make savings within lifestyle categories e.g. leisure or food.
Matt and Fabiola sketch the screens for our PWA.
What we built
The end result of our hack is a progressive web app that is able to help user define their financial goals, including what they are saving for, how much they need and by when. It then goes further by using open banking APIs to pull a digest of a user’s real-life spending, categorises that spend, and works out how much money is left over each month to contribute to the savings target.
If the real savings do not match the target savings, the app identifies areas the user could reduce their spend in to ensure they reach their savings goal.
Connor and Javi bring our app to life.
We named our app Reverie, with the strapline of 'achieve your dreams with AI-powered saving insights'. The brand colours and imagery were chosen to evoke a dream-like quality.
While our MVP has been tailored for wedding budgeting, and breaking down the overall target into mini-goals such as the venue, food, dress and photography, in reality the concept can be applied to any major life event or savings goal.
This means we could tackle other key stages of our financial journeys, including saving for that big holiday, a new house or car, university funds for our children, retirement and even paying off debt. The scope is very broad and ultimately we see this app as a companion to be used to support us throughout our lives and its key stages.
It is our hope that tools like Reverie can be used to foster a culture of saving and responsible financial planning. This combination of AI, machine learning and using open banking to access spending data really enables users to get a firm grasp of their finances to put themselves and their families in a far stronger financial position to achieve their dreams. You can also get in touch to see how we can build something similar for your organisation.
Check out the other projects from this year’s Quack Hack: