Charlie launches a mobile app that ‘gamifies’ getting out of debt – TechCrunch

CharlieA personal finance app, which started as a chatboat, is giving a new experience today, focusing on the larger goal of helping everyday Americans get out of debt. To do this, Charlie presents users with a complete picture of their current debt and how long it will take them to repay it. Users then connect Charlie to their bank account for personal assistance in reducing their bills. It also saves money to make the process of money separately for repayment of the loan more fun.

According to Charlie’s CEO Ilian Georgiev, the idea of ​​saving the game more originated from his prior experience in the mobile gaming industry. At a company called Pocket James, he helped grow millions of dollars in revenue from millions of users.

Image Credit: Charlie; CEO and co-founder Ilian Georgiev

“Really well-designed mobile games get people to obsessively manage a virtual economy,” he explains. “And I was curious about how we get people to do better in the real world economy by using the same kind of equipment?”

To help on that front, Charlie’s team includes people with backgrounds not only in computer science and engineering, but also in psychology. Using the same psychological tricks found in gaming – rules, progress bars and reward mechanisms – the app helps its users towards saving.

The original version of the Charlie app launched in 2016, however, worked a little differently. It will analyze transaction data for areas where users can improve their finances. It also worked through texting and Facebook Messenger – Charlie adopted with the idea that users needed a simpler way to connect to their finances.

“But the thing we used to hear over and over, both qualitatively and quantitatively, is that the biggest concern of our users is how do I get out of debt?” So we said, instead of putting this really wide net … let’s focus on this one particular problem, “says Georgiev.

Today, chatboats still remain as a feature inside the new Charlie app, but this is not the core experience.

Image Credit: Charlie

Instead, users begin by providing the app with information about their loan. Georgiev stressed that many Americans often know their loan money – no matter how much they have left on student loans, how much they have left on their car, how much credit card debt they have, and so on.

If you only make the minimum payment, then this app gives a calculation of how long it will take to pay this loan. This number helps shock people into action, as they often find that they are in debt for the next 40 or 50 years.

“For most users, this is such a thing because they have never seen these numbers before, and the need for mathematics – even if you do it in Excel – is beyond the majority of mathematics required to know. “

The app then encourages users to learn how they can reduce their time to get out of debt by paying more than the minimum time. By clicking a button, what they can do if you pay, for example, $ 20 or $ 50 per month.

The final step is to help users find that extra cash. In part, this can come from saving app locales from users. But it also comes from the money-saving “game”.

Charlie helps users create autosave rules that, if applicable, auto-transfer money from the user’s connected bank account to Charlie’s digital wallet (an account held in Partner Bank, Evolution). These can be funny rules or even ridiculous ways. For example, you could create a “guilty pleasure” rule, where Charlie would put 10% off every time you eat McDonald’s, or it could save you $ 1 every time “The Bachelor” says that they are right for reasons Are here for . “

Image Credit: Charlie

As soon as those rules are applied, the money is saved and a little progress bar is filled. The app rewards you with rainbow confetti as you get, similar to some mobile gaming experiences.

At the end of the month, the user can take that saved money to make a larger payment for their loan. Currently, Charlie does not manage the bill payment aspects – which is a limitation. You will have to transfer the funds back to your bank. But a Bill Pay feature is scheduled to arrive in a couple of months’ time, we’re told.

Later this year, Charlie plans to provide loan refinance services to users. In this case, the team believes that they can offer a lower interest rate to users because Charlie users have proved through their use of the app that they are less risky.

Further down the road, Charlie’s goal is to move more into the Neobank area by issuing a debit card to users who work with users’ debit cards. To distinguish it from the increasing number of Nobank, Charlie continued to focus on paying off debts and savings.

Georgiev noted that the app’s business model is not built around user data collection. The data that is ingested is sanitized and encrypted, and the app has a strict privacy policy. In addition, Charlie primarily helps people save money, but those funds are not actually stored in Charlie itself but with a partner bank. And because it is included in the Act of Moving Money, it has to follow the rules for security and fraud prevention.

Today, Charlie charges a $ 4.99 per month subscription, which aims to help people reduce their large debt load more quickly. However, even small amounts can deter money-sensitive users, despite Charlie’s perks and successes.

To date, Charlie has registered one and a half million users for his old chatbot experience. It now hopes to grow that figure with its new equipment.

Available on application Ios And Android.