NatWest brings PFM app to crowded market

By David Beach | 2 April 2019

Yesterday, NatWest began trials on the bank’s Mimo app, its new personal finance manager (PFM) designed to give customers greater insight into their finances.

While this is certainly not the first of its kind to market, Mimo lead Calvin O’Brien believes it is bolder, more ambitious and bigger than other propositions.

“Firms have started to do this before we have and we’re catching up fast,” says O’Brien. “We have big plans to accelerate and do a whole bunch of different things and together, you’ll find it’s bigger than all of those others. This bold and ambitious project will probably take over the course of the next two years to bring in all the things we would want to do,” he says.

The app, which goes on trial with select customers and NatWest staff today, joins a growing market of PFM tools from challenger banks Monzo, Starling, Revolut and most recently by Metro Bank in October last year.

While challenger banks are competing with incumbents on the digital product front, the UK’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA) brought in customer service rankings to encourage rivalry in a bid to boost banking innovation. In the most recent rankings, NatWest was ranked tenth of 16 eligible banks for overall customer service, with 59% of surveyed customers likely to recommend the bank.

“The key thing is not to tread water but to keep adding additional features and provide value added,” he says.

The opportunities for data-driven PFMs have not been lost on the challengers, with challenger Starling bank racing to become an Open Banking ecosystem orchestrator, but O’Brien suggests this is a play for the incumbent, with a wide scope for additional services.

“It’s also not about just linking data from their current account but adding in other stores of information,” he says, explaining how property and vehicle information can automatically prompt compare the market checks.

“Mimo will also integrate household finances,” says O’Brien. “A customer can get insights about themselves but maybe also their kids who may overdraw regularly or vulnerable parents who may be at risk of scamming.

“We’re also working with an AI concierge provider to offer low cost services like flight bookings and hotel bookings which private banking customers pay a premium for. That’s something no one else is doing but we’re looking to roll out in the next six months,” says O’Brien.

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