New money-saving app set to save customers 'hundreds'
A money saving app is set to save its users hundreds of pounds a year thanks to spending analysis and exclusive offers.
Snoop is an app which will analyse your spending - across multiple bank accounts - and calculate how you can save money ad make recommendations.
The app is the brain-child of 12 former Virgin Money bosses, led by Virgin Money founder Jayne-Anne Gahdia.
And as well as having offices in London - it's head office is right here in Norwich.
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"The reason we call it Snoop is because it's a little robot," explained one of the co-founders, Scott Mowbray. "We're going to use machine learning to look at your spending - be it mortgage, at John Lewis, or your bills - and we can use AI to look through that data and come up with snoops which are money saving suggestions."
He explained: "That could be as simple as recommending Costa over Starbucks for value for money, or suggesting it's time to switch your mortgage or utility bill - and you can do that within the app. We think we could save customers hundreds."
Snoops are also advanced enough to prompt you to sign up for a loyalty scheme if you spend regularly at one shop, or recommend one loyalty card over another.
"Everyone's heard of the Tesco clubcard but a lot of people don't know they've introduced a more advanced version for £7 a month," Mr Mowbray went on. "To get the benefit of that you have to spend more than £200 twice a month - so if we see someone is spending at that level then Snoop would say it's worth paying the fee for the advanced version because you get 10% off."
In June a study commissioned by Esso found that British shoppers were missing out on £46billion worth of loyalty points a year.
The app will also flag any standing orders or subscriptions you have but are not using - or which are duplicates of others in your account.
The app will manage to scroll through various accounts - even with different banks - thanks to the open banking concept.
Open banking is a financial technology which sees third parties access data through secured connections - meaning banking confidentiality is built into the infrastructure of the technology.
"Historically apps like this have worked through screen-scraping," explained Mr Mowbray.
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Screen scraping sees a computer program access and extract readable data.
"But that's not the most secure way of analysing your spending. I believe the initial adopters of Snoop will be those comfortable with tech and there will be a ripple effect over time."
Almost 5,000 people have signed up for the launch edition of the free app, which will go live this month.
A final version will be publicly available from March, with the team hoping they can secure three million customers in the UK "in a fairly short period of time".
"We think we can get to market in first half of 2020 and grow and scale quite quickly," Mr Mowbray said. "There are opportunities for us to look at America and that market to do a similar thing - this app has been designed to be scaled outside the UK as well."
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The boom in spending analysis has been prompted through the launches of apps like Yolt and Monzo, as well as banks launching their own spending features.
"I think what's interesting is that consumers want to feel that they're in control," Mr Mowbray said. "They don't always feel like their banks have their best interest at heart because you get great savings rates and then it's taken away from you. I think as a third party that gives people more confidence."
Snoop - which is based in Prince of Wales Road - is keen to build a revenue model to reflect this.
"One of the interesting things we're looking at is tipping," said Mr Mowbray. "You see it on the likes of the Guardian and Wikipedia, where it says 'if you want to support our independent work you can donate'. I think that aligns us with the interest of our customers."
Another revenue stream possibility is affiliating customer conversions to revenue.
"The model is if you switch your gas or broadband for example, it will affiliate income to us from that," Mr Mowbray said. "But it doesn't matter if we get paid - we will only supply what's best for the customer. It's not about us earning money - it's about the consumer."
The team of co-founders left Virgin Money when it was acquired by CYBG.
Around a kitchen table, the Snoop founders decided they wanted to create a "consumer champion".
"We thought about launching a new bank but we wanted to be fully independent," Mr Mowbray said. "Given the situation around open banking - which we believe will be the next big thing - we decided to create an app."