BillShrink, SmartyPig ramp up as bank customers feel the crunch

BillShrink, SmartyPig ramp up as bank customers feel the crunch

BillShrink, an online service that gives users personalised recommendations on reducing their bills, has added a tool pointing people in the direction of the best savings accounts.

The startup has targeted recession-hit Americans over the last year, helping them find the best deals on mobile phone contracts, credit cards and even gas stations.

Now, with the economy showing signs of recovery, BillShrink says there is a trend towards saving, prompting the new service.

The site tracks more than 300 constantly changing rates for the most attractive savings accounts and CDs. Its proprietary technology also analyses a number of additional criteria corresponding to an individual's usage preferences to generate personalised account recommendations.

Additionally, should a better interest rate become available down the road, BillShrink will alert users so they are always aware of the best options.

Peter Pham, CEO, BillShrink, says: "BillShrink's new savings service gives people straightforward guidance on where to invest their money so they can feel confident that they are making the most informed financial decisions."

Meanwhile, SmartyPig, which enables account holders to deposit money and receive funds from others, says it has taken in over $250 million in US deposits since its launch last year. The outfit is hoping to double this by the end of 2009.

The site is also expanding its social media functionality, providing users with the option of connecting their existing Twitter and Facebook accounts to any goals that they have chosen to share with friends and family.

When Twitter is connected to a shared goal, SmartyPig will automatically post to that Twitter account any time funds are added towards meeting a goal. The Facebook connect feature works similarly, posting to the user's wall every time funds are added towards meeting a goal that they have chosen to share.

Americans want help managing their finances

A new survey sponsored by vendor Fiserv shows 74% of 1002 Americans polled are paying more attention to their finances than in previous years, up from 71% in October 2008. In addition, 61% say online access helps them feel more in control of their financial information.

Consumers who use online banking said this tool has become essential to helping them manage their finances - with 91% saying the service is "important" or "critical".

Nearly a third of online banking users said they were accessing their accounts via the Internet more often as a result of the recession. The most common tasks are checking an account balance, viewing transaction history and transferring money between accounts at the same institution.

When asked about the functionalities that would be most useful in helping them feel more in control of their finances, 64% say "being able to pay bills on the day they are due" would be useful or extremely useful. Over half say "alerts to remind them of things they need to pay attention to" such as bill due dates or low balances would be useful, and 53% want "the ability to manage all accounts from one site."

Functionality was not the only area on which consumers focused, as 37% of consumers said that receiving personal financial help from their bank would be useful or extremely useful in helping them feel more in control.

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