In case you missed it, last week we went live with Moneybox – our first public API integration, and the app that’s transforming the way people save and invest. Using our APIs, they’ve made it so you can easily link up your Starling account to their suite of tools – including real-time roundups – with just a tap. Therefore, to introduce them and show you just why we love them, we invited Charlie Mortimer, their co-founder, to give us the Moneybox story.

Moneybox is an app designed to make it easier than ever to save and invest. Users can round up their everyday purchases to the nearest pound and invest the change into companies from all over the world via simple tracker funds.

We launched our flagship Stocks & Shares ISA app in 2015 and recently launched our Junior ISA app which helps parents and guardians to invest towards their children’s future.

Moneybox launched in 2015

Ben, my co-founder, and I started Moneybox as a way to help people save and invest. We believe that limited financial education and access to professional advice means that there are a large number of people who are looking to structure their saving in a better way and do more with their money, especially given today’s low interest rates.

To give a little more of the history, Ben and I first met at school (a long time ago now!) and sat next to each other in economics lessons. Ben’s background is in investing / asset management, beginning at Fidelity. My background is in digital – across online dating, daily deals and personal finance. Whenever we would catch up and start discussing services that ‘should’ exist, the idea for Moneybox always seemed to crop up. Finding a way to ‘democratise’ investing through mobile seemed to fit well with our respective backgrounds, and one evening we decided we would actually make it happen.

We agreed that it was important to have a really strong understanding of people’s attitudes towards saving and investing so that we could build a product that was solving a real problem. So, before we launched, we did lots of user research and found that the most often cited barriers to investing were:

‘It’s very hard to set up an account’ ‘Investing is very complicated and I don’t know enough to start’ ‘You need lots of money to invest’

Therefore, we focused on building an app that addressed these areas.

Firstly, we made it easy for people set up an account – we’re proud to say that most users can now open a Stocks & Shares ISA from their mobile phone in just a few minutes.

Secondly, we tested a wide variety of different ways to introduce the concept of investing. We found that it was important not to overwhelm people with too many options, so we worked with experts to put together just three. These starting options are represented by animals – a fox, an owl and a squirrel. We wanted to build an app that didn’t look like a traditional finance app; our designers don’t have a finance background, as we want to create something with broad appeal. We want the app experience to be rewarding and to have some lighter elements.

Finally, we have built the app so that people can open an account with just £1. It took over a year to build out the Moneybox ‘platform’ and it’s now possible for people to invest £1 into diversified index funds and, through those funds, into thousands of companies around the world.

What happens next?

We launched in August 2016, and since then we have been growing our customer base and improving the app. The traction we’ve seen in our first year has been beyond our expectations and so far we’ve had (mostly!) positive feedback which has been great. It’s really rewarding to hear from customers who have started investing and are building their financial future with Moneybox.

Since then we have launched our Junior ISA app, which is aimed at adults who want to start saving for their kids. We love that idea that parents can save a little towards their child’s future every time they buy something (for their child or for themselves!) through our round ups feature.

At the moment we’re continuing to work on making the Moneybox experience better for customers, especially in building out how we communicate and try to help educate customers. We’re currently focused on explaining the wonders of compounding with a cartoon owl quoting Einstein! We think it’s really important to reinforce fundamental investment concepts in an engaging way.

We’ve also spent the last few weeks building our integration with Starling. This allows Moneybox customers to connect their Starling account and bring in transactions to round up. As open banking becomes more prevalent, working with like-minded services in a secure way to deliver a range of financial services will enable customers to make the most of their financial lives. It’s great that Starling have made this possible with their open APIs.

Over the next year or two we want to continue to grow our customer base and build features that help our customers to achieve their financial goals, be that saving for a house, saving for retirement, or just for a rainy day. After all, no one really wants ‘an ISA’, they want the freedom or opportunity that saving and investing can bring.

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