Did you know “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” book? Written by Oliver Sacks, the book tells stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations. It includes the story about a man who sometimes patted the heads
of water hydrants and parking meters, taking them to be the heads of children.
Personal finance management (PFM) tool that banks are providing suffers a similar disease. Products that you buy in shops should be automatically categorized by a PFM into categories (milk into “food”, knives into “kitchen equipment”, tires into “car parts”
etc.) and then shown as a structure of your expenditures and incomes.
- “Ok, so my car is a piggybank responsible for 50% share in my monthly budget. I will sell the car and buy one that is more cost efficient or maybe try public transport for a while. Thanks to saved money I will go on a trip through Africa ”.
Very useful, right? Nope. If you use PFM provided with your mobile banking it most probably won’t categorize your shopping correctly and your shoes may as well be recognized as “dog food”. Why?
- First of all – a bank doesn’t have a sufficient amount of data to categorize your shopping, because data it receives from shops is limited. In some cases the only thing bank knows about is when the product was bought and who sold it. In
other cases the data may also be incorrect. If Tesco (this is only an example) employee decided to assign a toaster, a towel and candles into grocery category than they will also be wrongly categorized by your PFM.
- It is getting even worse if you pay through 3rd party payments, like PayPal, Google Wallet or V.me. A bank knows only which payment provider handled the transaction and so does the PFM – the whole shopping list lands in one bag called “other
- Even bigger problem for a PFM is when you pay with cash. Paper money historically has large share in our daily spending and little expenses like taxis, parking tickets or snacks are traditionally paid using cash.
All in all, the result is that a PFM monthly summary doesn’t reflect the reality and a user has to categorize his shopping himself. Let me use a quote: “Ain't Nobody Got Time For That”!.
A bank must be able to monitor as large part of costumer shopping as possible in order to collect more data about the products a consumer bought.
Bank Zachodni WBK, the biggest Santander’s bank in CEE, took first steps in collecting data from almost every aspect of its customer shopping.
Its mobile wallet allows users to make in-app purchases directly from shops and services embedded in the app (bus tickets, groceries with home
delivery etc.), make bank transfers or mobile payments (incl. in-store payments coming this year).
Similar (but limited to in-app purchases) solutions can be found in ICIC Bank’s or Privat Bank’s offers. PFM solutions have been on the market for more than a decade now, so it is the right time to make them useful… and stop patting the heads of water hydrants.
About the author:
@krajewskitomasz, head of mCommerce at eLeader,
Blog updated: 19 May 2015 14:11:27