Product Story: Spend Analysis, your entry point to better financial health
by Cipta Pratama and Devina Samantha Djuarsa
People have different ways to manage their money.
Some might have a tight budget to maximize their income, while others might put it on the back burner and just wing it. We see that these behaviors result from several factors: financial literacy, mindset, motivation, cognitive load, and environment.
Due to these different conditions, we know we cannot expect them to behave the same way, but at least we want to give them a glimpse of what they can do. In order to do that, the barrier to entry for personal financial management needs to be very low or next to none. It needs to provide informative insight and a clear recommended action without requiring additional input.
Then, people can take advantage of it or keep it as a gentle nudge and move on.
The term personal financial management or PFM has been around since the ’80s. At that time, personal computers have changed the way people work in the office: to be more efficient. Consequently, people started to think of ways to simplify “works” related to their personal lives. The trend sparked a rise in computer software created to address monthly hassles such as paying bills and household bookkeeping.
Some software, such as Quicken, even gained prominence because it was relatively easy to use (by mimicking paper checks). But, at the end of the day, people who use this type of software already manage their life properly in the first place, and just want to try a more efficient approach. With the advancement of technology, we see an opportunity to make PFM accessible for a broader audience.
Digital payment and banking have become popular for several years, but the COVID-19 situation has dramatically accelerated the adoption. Digital payment carries numerous benefits, but one unintended consequence is running the risk of overspending and developing lousy spending habits.
Cashless payments make it easier for people to spend as they don’t feel the pain of parting ways with a wad of cash.
We are living in a physical world. Our brain and intuition are honed to see objects, not numbers, which are essentially a concept. Even early games use visual representations of the character’s life using hearts (e.g., Zelda). You need the training to develop an instinct for it. That’s why you spend your childhood learning about numbers in school, or even longer if you want to learn the skills for more complex use, such as math or statistics.
Except for accounting or finance majors, people usually learn about money management from their parents. The current offline to online shift, along with the rise of QR payments led by digital wallet providers bring an abrupt change to the life of Indonesian people. The old way to manage money might not translate well in this new digital finance.
For example, some of you might budget your daily spending by limiting the money in your wallet. That can work by leveraging your “laziness” to go to the ATM and withdraw money. Others might keep a stash of cash at their home to know for sure how much money they are expending. It leverages your “sense of loss” to limit the amount you are willing to lose.
Looking at the trend of impulse buying spurred by discounts and cashback from e-commerce, we need a new way to help people control their money and make educated decisions based on their priorities.
Perception gap and reluctance
We are trying to deliver reliable service for users’ daily transactions, recommend a way forward to achieve their goals, and become a platform for financial collaboration. And to support our users in making rational decisions when planning to expend their money, we introduce a Spend Analysis feature.
We neatly categorized each transaction and grouped it by month. Spend Analysis has an indicator on each category to show the fluctuation of user’s expenditure compared to last month. This indicator will give them an idea of which area of spending they can improve by budgeting their spending via Pockets. They can also use this report as a reference point before buying something impulsively.
The best part is, they don’t need to do anything manually. Our custom machine learning algorithm automatically learns and does the categorization and reporting for every transaction done through the app or Jago debit card.
Although this feature can’t be called new or life-changing, its utility and convenience set it apart from other apps.
Each category we included in the app has been rigorously researched and tested. We try to balance what transactions people usually do and things that rarely happen or are too specific and only apply to certain people. We don’t want to bloat Jago with hundreds of different categories, but at the same time, we also want to give Jago users good enough category selections.
So, we ran a quick study with our Customer Listening team to select which category to include. We asked several respondents to submit a list of categories based on their monthly bank statements and group it according to their similarity. This study gives us the individual class of category and the expected grouping based on relevance.
In the end, we have over 90 categories with 12 groups, ranging from tuition fees, fashion, groceries to cable TV, wedding, and pet. We know that this study isn’t perfect, and there might be an information bias. This is why we keep validating the data and optimizing it to cover the ever-growing type of people and their transactions.
We want to break people’s barriers in learning about good financial management practices with Spend Analysis. For starters, we hope that people can understand their situation more objectively. Later, they can choose which appropriate tool complements their strengths and which can help them cover their weaknesses.
Right now, we start by providing users with this information about their expenditure, but we are not stopping here, as our ultimate goal is to help users in more tailored ways to achieve their financial goals. For that purpose, we aim to have more features that make it easier for users to change their behaviors in the coming months.
So stay tuned and expect more exciting updates from us!
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