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Personal Finance bot Cleo arrives on Messenger

26 January 2017  |  9943 views  |  2 hipster suit with phone

Cleo, a chatbot that is aiming to become the Siri of personal finance, has arrived on Facebook Messenger after picking up backing from a host of big names, including the founders of Skype and Wonga.

London-based Cleo integrates with users' bank accounts through a deal with SaltEdge Financial Aggregator and then uses AI to analyse spending habits and transaction histories to help with money management.

Earlier this month the company revealed that it has raised $700,000 from big names including Skype founder Niklas Zennström, Wonga co-founder Errol Damelin and Zoopla co-founder Alex Chesterman.

The bot was created by a team staffed by machine learning experts who have worked at Google, Wonga and Amazon. It launched in public beta in the UK late last year, with plans to enter new markets in 2017.

Cleo automatically categorises and sorts spending and already understands more than 10,000 questions, meaning it can answer things such as 'how much have I spent on Uber this month?' and 'can I afford to go for dinner?'

CEO Barney Hussey-Yeo says: "The days of logging into multiple bank accounts and dealing with poorly designed, passive interfaces is over. Cleo can be reactive when you need it, without the hassle, and proactive other times so you're on top of things that matter. The result? Times saved, money safeguarded."

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 26 January, 2017, 16:46

Interesting, but is there any real evidence that customers WANT this sort of service and are willing to disclose all their Financials to an aggregator to get it?

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 26 January, 2017, 18:54

Going by the examples they give, MoMMAs (Mobile Money Management Apps) give frivolous advice e.g. avoid that $4.50 coffee. The answers to the two questions asked of Cleo will be no different: What do I really do about the money I've already spent on Uber? If I can't have dinner, then do I starve??

Personally, I'd be willing to share my banking information with a money management app or bot under the following conditions:

  1. They should use a technology that accesses only the info I permit them to access and without putting me to inconvenience. Screen-scraping via online banking password has been one prevalent technology and that fails this test because it's like handing over the keys to the kingdom - I've no control over what info the app can and cannot access. OFX is another prevalent tech that also fails this test because it requires me to log on to my online banking regularly to download the info. While announcing its recent data sharing initiative with Intuit, JPMC has referenced OFX API. I don't know much about this tech but maybe it's what will finally pass this test.
  2. They give me truly valuable advice e.g. Earn $$$ more by moving your money from Bank X to Bank Y because Bank Y gives higher interest rate (or whatever reason).
  3. They indemnify me from any losses arising out of data breach, if any, caused by third party access to my banking info.

But that's only me.

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