Peter Myatt, Founder of Bean, talks exclusively to Millennial Matters about the app, how it can benefit millennials looking to control their spending and what he sees for the app landscape going forward.
Can you tell us a bit about Bean and how it works?
Do you ever look at your bank account at the end of the month and just think “where did all my money go?” Bean is the platform that helps you (a) understand what happened; and (b) spend less in the future.
To use Bean, all you need to do is connect your online bank statements. Bean will then scan through your transactions to find and show you all your regular payments. If you find a subscription that you no longer use, let us know and we will help you cancel it. No more sitting on the phone for hours listening to mind-numbing music. Bean will then monitor what is going on and let you know if you are paying more than you need to for anything else. If you are, let us know and we will look to get you a better deal.
What makes it different from other apps out there? Are there any similar apps?
Bean is focused on reducing our users’ costs of living, i.e. the money that they spend just to get through the day.
We don’t tell you to spend less money on coffee or not to go out on the weekend. We look to cancel subscriptions you don’t use or reduce the cost of the things that you do use. That way our users can lead the same lifestyles but have a bit more money left over at the end of the month.
There are a number of personal finance management apps out there, all helping you to get a better idea of where your money is going or to squirrel away excess cash. However, there isn’t anything as effective as Bean at reducing your base cost of living.
What makes Bean such a useful app for millennials?
Millennials are trapped as the economy is now weighted against them. Deduction of basic living expenses from the average person’s salary often means that millennials are not able to save a penny. This means that ambitions such as buying a house or even retiring are looking more like a dream. Bean helps you maximise your income, so that saving money becomes a reality.
What are the benefits of targeting this particular segment?
Millennials are used to new technology and happy to give us their feedback. By working with millennials, we are able to get a better idea of what our users need. This means we can build something that is genuinely useful, rather than just what we think is a good idea.
What are the key issues facing millennials as far as financial services are concerned and what would you suggest as solutions?
A combination of high debt, stagnant wages, high cost of living and high inflation – along with a technology sector that makes it easier than ever to spend money – means that millennials are finding it harder and harder to keep control of what is going in and out of their bank accounts. The number of people who are just about managing to get by is growing at an alarming rate.
Bean is my part of the solution to this. However, there are a number of other things that need to happen for things to improve. It will require industry and government to work together. But most of all, we, as individuals, need to take responsibility for what happens to us and how we navigate these obstacles.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? Have you always been involved in fintech?
Before setting up Bean, I worked in corporate strategy for 10 years across a number of sectors. For the 3 years before setting up Bean, I worked for Zoopla, where I helped successfully list them on the London Stock Exchange, as well as complete their acquisition of uSwitch. It was during this acquisition that I realised how difficult it is for UK households to manage their finances effectively and how many millions of pounds are wasted through switching inertia and subscription traps.
What trends are you seeing in the apps landscape at the moment?
People don’t just want apps any more. They want experiences that work across phones, watches, tablets, laptops and AI assistants among others. This means that the ‘apps’ as we used to know them need to be platforms with multiple touch points.
How do you see the sector evolving over the next 12 months?
The government is creating a new way to access online banking statements that will be launched in January next year, called Open Banking. This will mean consumers will see an increasing integration of financial services across platforms.
In my opinion, the most exciting part of this is that it highlights the fundamentals of financial services. Things like having a great interest rate on a loan or a savings account, or perfect exchange rates, will be why people sign up to a service, not their user interface. Consumers can only win in this scenario. However, it will still take quite a bit of effort from consumers to reap the benefits.