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22seven: Worth a try?

By Danielle van Wyk

We live in an era where there is an app for everything. From monitoring your heart rate and menstrual cycle to tracking your sleeping habits and your monthly budget. While this may seem invasive being made aware of your spending habits and where you may be overstepping your budget, it is the best way to rectify and cultivate better financial health.

But thanks to new insights in psychology, we know more about how people think and behave with money, and why. This information coupled with new technology have meant that more people have the tools at their fingertips to take charge of their finances. 

Justmoney reviewed a local budgeting app, 22seven, for the period of one month.

Launched by Old Mutual in January 2012 this budgeting app, like many others on the market, has capitalised on the big move towards digital.

We reviewed the app according to the following aspects: features, design, user experience, and cost. Here is a breakdown of what to expect:

Features

Apart from the ability to link bank, investment, stockbroking, loan, crypto, and rewards accounts from over 100+ providers, which most budgeting apps boast with, this app has spending alerts.

This means that you’re alerted when you’ve reached certain spend thresholds, for example 50%, 80%, and 100%. The app can also categorise spends according to expenses outlined in your budget, such as rent, groceries, and entertainment. These features enabled me to make a saving of R300 at the end of the month.  

The alerts are in the form of pop-up push notifications on your phone which means they will keep popping up until you clear them. This was extremely helpful as it ultimately kept my budget front of mind.

Categorising my spends also helped me see exactly where my money was going, making it easier to spot spending trends and subsequently make the necessary changes towards saving.

“Many of our customers get in touch expressing their surprise at how much they’re actually spending on the likes of bank fees or eating out and take-outs,” says Jikku Joseph, managing director of 22seven.  

“So, moving forward, they make the necessary changes to address these. They may move over to a new bank with lower fees or challenge themselves by setting lower budgets on these categories and keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don’t overspend.”

Another useful feature was the ability to set goals, invest in them, and track your progress through to completion stage. Your goals are determined by you and could range from committing to saving R200 monthly to investing in a fixed investment vehicle.

The only drawback here was that all the investments offered only matured after 3 or more years, discouraging those whom are simply interested in short-term investment savings.

Design

As a young professional it was refreshing to see a budget app that wasn’t intimidating at first encounter.

This app has a sleek design with a simple interface that makes for an organised look and feel. It has a skew towards the young “savvy starter” market with its playful layout and navigation.

The only concern could be that because of its playfulness it may signal distrust within an older generational market that could see them being deterred from using this app.

User experience

For the most part, from adding bank cards and integrating accounts to tracking your spending using the different tools and information it is a very user-friendly experience.

However, there were a few kinks too. The FICA process should you want to open an investment through 22seven is extensive. A snap of your ID document and proof of address is required before you’re able to complete the application.

While this is standard during the FICA process, should you have recently moved and maybe not have opened any new accounts making use of your new address, you would find this exercise near impossible as the app offers no alternative. If you have recently moved, you can go to your bank, they immediately change your address and they can certify and print out a copy for you and it is accepted. 

In response to this being raised, Joseph said that 22seven is currently in the process of simplifying the process even more. “We’re hoping to launch the first set of changes within the next two months, which will reduce the amount of documentation you need to provide even further.”

Another glitch presented itself in the delay of transaction updates. This means that you could swipeour card and make purchases, but then only have these reflect up to half a day later. This may seem like a small issue, but it is important to get an accurate reflection of how much money you have left, so you’re able to make informed financial decisions.

“We aim to have most account updates completed within 2 to 5 minutes. Updates can take up to 10 minutes if you have many accounts linked from different service providers, but that typically shouldn’t be the case,” Joseph states.

If issues persist, users are encouraged to contact the customer care service or access the online helpdesk.

Cost of download

The app is a free download and available on IOS and Android.

Budgeting apps are undoubtedly the way of the future and they make keeping yourself financially accountable a lot easier. Granted, some may still feel uneasy about entering their bank credentials online, but many of the budgeting apps available employ banking grade encryption and insurance to ensure a safe and secure account linking process.

Go ahead, give it a go. The key is in finding one that works for you.

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