Fintech Mobile & Online UX

Baking the ‘pleasure of progress’ into fintech savings apps

Baking the 'pleasure of progress' into fintech savings apps. Main photo: Starstuff,
Written by Jessica Ellerm

Good financial habits come down to one thing, says Jessica Ellerm, and that’s motivation. Can we have a savings app to help us along the way?

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am for a very important date – a date with Joe, my personal trainer. I’ve been training with Joe for over five years. How crazy is that?! During that time, my fitness and general well-being have increased dramatically. I’ve run a number of half marathons – something I thought I would never do – maintained a consistent weight, and, no doubt thanks to the increased number of antibodies floating around my body, hardly ever get sick.

And while I acknowledge personal training is a luxury a lot of people can’t afford, for me personal training is a worthwhile investment into the current and future me. I can only hope the work I put in now will go a long way towards feeling great in my 40s, 50s and beyond. I certainly freak out when I think about being old and immobile.

Regular exercise, like good financial habits, comes down to one thing: motivation. Experiencing the pleasure of progress is what helps strengthen that motivation. It’s a powerful positive feedback loop to tap into.

For exercise, the pleasure of progress is so readily accessible. You feel it when you climb a flight of stairs and aren’t out of breath. Or when you put your skinny jeans on – the ones you know you only fit into once you’ve hit a certain weight.

But when you save money for big life goals, the pleasure of progress may only happen once or twice a year at best. It’s what makes it super-hard for many people to stay motivated, relegating them to the yo-yo save and spend diet.

Good financial habits

This morning, as I was coming back from my training session, I got thinking about how I wished I had a bank that behaved like my personal trainer; someone or something by my side that didn’t overwhelm me with budgeting, life plans or crazy, in-depth financial goal-setting all the time; something that helps nudge me into good financial habits during my day-to-day life.

It would be great if tomorrow I could go to a bank in Australia and sign up for a savings account that comes with a free financial coach chatbot, like Penny. Except this chatbot would also be able to nudge me to save, like Digit. My savings account would keep me updated on my progress with friendly, daily text messages. It would even help me find money being unnecessarily spent, so I could redirect it into my savings, like Trim. Brilliant.

Then just imagine if this same account could analyse my weekly spend, and each Sunday send me a breakdown of where I could shop the following week for the same or similar items, and get them even cheaper! Sort of like PennyCat, but more proactive. In addition, perhaps once a month it could run a savings sprint, whereby if I managed to increase my monthly savings by X%, I could choose to be rewarded with a gift of my choice or a bonus percentage rate.

Heck, I might even pay for this account, considering the returns I imagine I’d generate.

While they’ve been a great start, online budgeting tools and financial planning apps in their current format have only solved one part of the problem: tracking. Many of them are yet to work out how to deliver the pleasure of progress to their users.

Chatbots and AI are going to transform this space. In fact, Bond out of the US seems the closest to achieving my savings/wealth generation nirvana. It says it’s coming to Australia. And well, I just can’t wait.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Main photo: Starstuff,

About the author

Jessica Ellerm

Jessica Ellerm is CEO and co-founder at Australian fintech startup Zuper Superannuation. She's also a fintech commentator, blogging at her own website ( and guest posting for BankNXT. In addition, she writes for the fintech blog Daily Fintech Advisers, specialising in small business banking. Prior to Zuper, Jessica spent 6+ years at payments company and small business startup bank Tyro. Jessica is a contributor to Brett King's Breaking Banks, and has freelanced as a finance news journalist for Australia's leading online markets channel Finance News Network.

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