For the past few months I’ve been testing out Cleo, which is a tool dubbed as an “intelligent assistant for your money”.
Once you’ve connected your bank accounts to Cleo (the account aggregation technology behind the scenes is provided by Yodlee & SaltEdge; used by many personal finance management (PFM) tools, which use high levels of security to ensure your accounts are kept safe), you can then either text or Facebook Message Cleo to get information on your account balances or transactions.
One of the most interesting aspects of this is that Cleo attempts to use artificial intelligence in order to understand your messages and give you the information you require. For example, if you text it “Cleo, what’s my balance?”, within a couple of seconds you’ll receive a summary of your account balances.
Here’s an example of how it works in Messenger:
As well as interacting with Cleo via text and Facebook Messenger, there’s also a web-based dashboard you can login to, where you can view a breakdown of your spending and recategorise transactions should you need to; I’d like a little more control over the categories than is currently available in Cleo. The dashboard is currently pretty basic but is probably not the main focus of Cleo at the moment; the AI/messaging integrations are what sets it apart from other PFM tools currently available, such as MoneyDashboard.
In the few months I’ve been using Cleo, after the initial curiosity about what questions I could ask it and the types and quality of response it would give, I’ve found the most useful feature is the weekly texts I get which give me a summary of my spending during the course of the week; something I don’t get directly from my bank or the othe PFM tools I use, such as Money Dashboard.
Yesterday we took a brief look at another chatbot, Ernest, which is on the verge of launching. Cleo has had a few months headstart in development, and they’ve just announced that they’ve raised $700,000 (Â£550,000) from backers connected to the likes of Zoopla, Wonga and Lovefilm, as well as launching their new website.
I’ll be interested to see how Cleo and the other chatbots develop. Cleo has plans to be integrated in to both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which will allow you to interact with voice commands.
I do wonder how long these apps will remain as standalone services though – I can’t help feeling that the natural progression for them may be to be acquired by the traditional banks who will be looking for such cool functionality and would probably prefer to buy the technology rather than have to develop it themselves.
- HSBC Launches “Connected Money” App (May 9, 2018)
- first direct Partners With Financial Platform Bud (October 19, 2017)
- Revolut launches smart Subscriptions feature (October 6, 2020)
- first direct Launches Face ID For iPhone X Mobile App (November 3, 2017)
- Budgeting Apps “Lead To Overspending” (January 13, 2021)