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BBVA's Propel invests in chatty penguin bot Charlie

BBVA's Propel invests in chatty penguin bot Charlie

BBVA-backed venture fund Propel has led a $9 million Series A round in US-based Charlie, a text-based AI chatbot aimed at less financially astute consumers.

Charlie - portrayed as a friendly AI ‘penguin’ - is dedicated to finding new ways for US consumers to make better financial decisions, including identifying more ways to save, avoid burdensome recurring fees and penalties, and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

Designed to interact with people via SMS text or Facebook Messenger, Charlie is now used by nearly 250,000 mostly millennials US customers since its launch in 2016.

Created by a team of cognitive scientists, the bot deploys the habit-forming tricks behind top-grossing gaming apps to help people change money behavior.

“The go-to form of getting financial advice with charts and graphs is not providing the actionable and simple advice that the average American needs today to build their savings, eliminate debt, and drive positive financial behavioral changes,” said Ryan Gilbert, Partner at Propel Venture Partners. “In a crowded space, we believe that Charlie is delivering what’s been missing among existing financial solutions: trustworthiness, approachability, and super intelligence. We’re excited to be a part of their growth as they continue to bring empathy and simplicity to financial empowerment.”

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