Moven: Smart Financial App For Smartwatches

Moven, provider of a leading mobile-first, financial management app, is one of those early in exploring the efficacy of smartwatches. We spoke with CTO, Bob Savino, about Moven’s progress.

Regarding smartwatches as a delivery platform, Savino stated that the “first generation of wearables is not disruptive enough.” For the present, the watches are useful primarily for push notifications.

Realtime Info About “Financial Health”

This fits well with Moven’s characteristics and benefits. Moven’s app is built on the concept of delivering realtime information about the user’s “financial health.” As such, the watch screen can show how much the consumer has spent during the month and display a color-coded message (red, green, yellow), indicating whether they are over or under their budget, or their usual spending levels.

Savino states that, because of the limitations of the watch display, more elaborate functionality may have to wait for workable AI (artificial intelligence) or better voice control capabilities.

Consumer vs. Enterprise Business Focus

Savino explained that they view their business as having two major segments, which he labeled as 1) Consumer and 2) Enterprise. For consumers, they offer financial management and banking in one app. The app provides a bank account and MasterCard debit card (in the U.S. with Kansas-based CBW Bank, an FDIC member), as well as a MasterCard PayPass sticker, which can be affixed to a phone to enable contactless payments at enabled POS terminals.

When users make transactions, Moven performs realtime analytics in their cloud. The basic idea behind this is that the user gets up-to-date information immediately every time they do a financial transaction. Savino emphasizes that they are changing and enhancing the consumer experience.

The company has in development a feature, which Savino refers to as Smart Money Management or Moments, that will suggest to the user to save money if they have been spending at below their normal level and have cash lying available.

The enterprise area involves the company licensing its software to banks outside the U.S. Earlier this year, Moven announced a partnership with Accenture, aimed at pursuing global banks as customers. The company had previously announced relationships with Westpac, a New Zealand bank and Toronto Dominion Bank in Canada. Savino states that Accenture is helping both with building the sales pipeline and some feature development and implementation.

Convergence Of Cloud Computing And Mobile

In line with our thinking at mobilecloudera, Savino emphasizes that the entire business model of Moven is built upon the convergence of cloud computing and mobile. The Moven cloud is maintained with Amazon and Savino is a very satisfied AWS customer. He cites the flexibility and speed for deploying new instances, what he refers to as “infrastructure as code.”

Revenue Model And “Engagement” Strategy

At mobilecloudera we speak with many companies that have mobile cloud apps that could potentially be important in transforming entrenched industries. Two questions that need to be asked are: 1. What is the revenue model? 2. How do you gain user engagement?

As for revenue, Moven is available as a free app for iOS and Android and the banking services provided by the company, except for items such as overdrafts, are also free. Savino explained that the bank is a card issuer and receives revenue as a share of the charges for card usage on purchases. Moven, in turn, receives a piece of these revenues.

In their overseas business he states the revenue will be based on sharing of revenues with their banking customers. Savino states, “We are selling innovation to our international partners; we enable rapid feature innovation for banks.”

Regarding engagement, he states that the company has a very efficient and easy sign-up process. He states that they actually convert 60% of people who press the Sign Up button, as compared to an industry average of about 30%. He also says they foster engagement by the fact that theirs is a mobile-first app, which makes it very easy for customers to change categories. In addition, their business model encourages engagement by its use of push notifications. Savino states, “When you’re spending money, it’s a good time to think about your budget.”

Distinguishing Moven – Vision

There are other financial management apps. Moven, which has been favorably reviewed, appears to distinguish itself largely because they provide an integrated app, through which the customer can link all of their credit cards and other bank accounts. This is absolutely essential to providing a complete picture of the user’s “financial health.”

Savino emphasizes that they also provide a context-driven experience, which incorporates elements of “gamification.” (Gamification is a term that is acquiring a meaning of its own that implies “making it fun” to use a product or services, thereby encouraging engagement.) The Moven app also integrates with Facebook, allowing users to make financial decisions (including transferring money to friends) that take into account their social activities.

Savino would not give any numbers concerning the proliferation of the Moven app. However, Moven founder Brett King has been quoted in the press as stating that, as of early 2015, the company had “tens of thousands of cardholders and hundreds of thousands of people [that] have downloaded the smartphone app.” (“Moven’s Smartwatch App to Test Demand for Real-Time PFM Advice,” American Banker 1/5/15.)

King is a leading innovator in banking and finance. It is clear from speaking with Savino that Moven is on a long-term path to redefine the entire experience of banking.

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