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Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate

Making it easier to pay friends and manage family finances collaboratively was a clear theme among the many new financial services tools presented yesterday at Finovate Fall in New York City.

Mobile devices and social media help family and friends keep in touch even when separated by long distances, and a number of new solutions at Finovate aim to keep them similarly connected financially through those channels.

Yodlee introduced a new collaborative financial management app called TANDEM that helps families and social groups manage their different accounts and financial obligations together.

“We believe your financial relationships should be as easy to manage as your social relationships,” Anil Arora, the company’s CEO and president, said while demoing the mobile app.

TANDEM allows users to create financial circles with their friends and other relationships from their phone contacts and social media connections, and customize the level of account access and sharing for each contact. Users can then make bill payments or send money to kids in college or for elderly parents, and even set up alerts for their bills and accounts. The app also includes a chat function and the ability to see communications associated with a contact’s account.

Instabank, a Russian-based operation offering a mobile-only bank account, also leans heavily on making personal finances more social. Instead of having a bank account number, users are identified by their Facebook profile, which makes it easier to pay Facebook friends. Facebook contacts can also use the service to split a bill with each other.

[See Related: MasterCard Uses Social Media to Rebrand Its Mobile Wallet Through Real-Time Monitoring]

Users can also manage their payments and bank accounts similarly to how they manage their social media profiles, with the ability to add comments, photos and Foursquare locations to a transaction, said Roman Potemkin, Instabank’s CEO. All transactions with Instabank are shown in an “activity stream” that resembles a Facebook timeline. And users can also use geo-location to find other nearby Instabank users and make payments to them.

Another presenter, Akimbo Financial, offers a prepaid card with the added incentive that each user can create up to 5 sub-cards for their family or employees and easily manage all of the cards from one place. Part of the growth in prepaid cards in recent years is the result of banked customers using prepaid for budgeting purposes such as giving their kids an allowance each week, Houston Frost, Akimbo’s president, CEO, and co-founder, noted.

Each Akimbo user receives a Visa prepaid card, and can link bank accounts with the holders of their sub-cards and set up recurring payments to them, or to any other Akimbo user. And they can pick up their funds anywhere Visa debit is accepted or at an ATM.

Personal finance isn’t so personal anymore as consumers’ financial lives are more attached to their social connections, like their roommate who they share rent and utilities bills with, or their sibling with whom they jointly manage their elderly parent’s finances. Formerly most of these transactions between friends and family would be done with cash or checks. The mobile device and social media have provided channels to do those transactions electronically. These collaborative, social payments and financial management tools, if adopted, could provide a big push in eliminating cash and checks from everyday transactions.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
9/15/2013 | 6:24:39 AM
re: Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate
The securities regulators in the US have been vague about social. The SEC has said that brokerages can use social, but the SEC didn't specify how firms could use it, or how the SEC will track it. As a result, most financial firms are wary of social. Banking regulators have also been vague, if i'm not mistaken.
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/13/2013 | 6:50:17 PM
re: Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate
That actually sounds pretty cool, then! A banking app with the ability to see your connections via a user profile is pretty neat. It probably makes it easier than searching simply for a user name or account number.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
9/13/2013 | 5:19:48 PM
re: Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate
That's a good point about the cyber crime regulations. I really don't know how they've tailored their product for compliance purposes, or even if they've had to do that.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
9/13/2013 | 5:18:12 PM
re: Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate
Instabank really modeled its user experience after Facebook to make it more intuitive for social media users. It's basically bringing "the Facebook experience" to banking and turning the transactional history that you see in your online banking into a social-media like profile, which also helps with shared purchases with friends and family. You can add tags and photos to purchases that you made, etc.
Zarna Patel
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Zarna Patel,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/12/2013 | 2:18:30 PM
re: Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate
When Instabank introduced that their product was tied to social media accounts, I almost fell off my chair. On some level, the connivance makes sense, but for customers that don't even trust online banking (like me), this innovation is extremely hard to grasp. Instabank is also a Russian company, so it's important to note that different countries have different regulation in terms of cyber security. I'm not sure about Russia's regulatory standards for cyber security, but if it is stricter then the U.S., then maybe this product make more sense for them.
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2013 | 8:27:00 PM
re: Making Personal Finance Social Spotlighted At Finovate
TANDEM sounds like a good bet to help friends and family pay for joint purchases, etc., but I don't know how I feel about Instabank. I wouldn't want my financial accounts tied to my Facebook account. It's still an innovative idea, though. Why not tie the Instabank account to your cell number instead?
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