by Staff Reporter on 02/02/12 at 12:17 pm
Independent online personal financial service, 22seven, launched last week into a world grappling with its fifth consecutive year of economic volatility. For consumers it’s tough and the question we are all asking ourselves, apart from how long is this recession going to last, is “how do we make ends meet?”
22seven was unveiled in Johannesburg last week to a select group of journalists, bloggers and industry analysts (Ideate was there, and we’ve been playing with it – we’re reserving our opinions until later notice). The immediate reaction has been a dazzling range of criticism and praise. The banks, especially ABSA, have weighed in, saying that they’ll be launching their own service shortly. FNB’s Michael Jordaan tweeted that it looked ‘cool’.
Either way one looks at it, it appears that 22seven is scratching an itch that many didn’t know they had.
“Our service doesn’t have all the answers but it does have a few insights,” says Christo Davel, CEO of 22seven and former chief of South Africa’s first ever web-only bank 20twenty. “22seven is founded on the idea that if we become more aware of why we make the decisions we do, we will be in a better position to make smarter money choices.”
Money management is not a new concept. Yet, in spite of having more financial tools and advice available than ever before it seems that people are feeling less in control, rather than more.
The team at 22seven believes the flaw is that traditional financial management tools rely on objectivity, rationality, budgeting and discipline. “The reliance on purely empirical data to make decisions is the problem,” says Davel. “People are hardwired to make choices on instinct, intuition and emotion. It doesn’t matter how many budgets we do or how many books we read, we will still act like the complex, emotionally governed human beings we are.”
22seven offers insight into how people make their money choices and guides them to being and feeling in control of their financial lives.
The online service uses a blend of intuitively presented data, empathy for the human condition and a sense of play to help customers become more conscious of their financial decisions.
A core element is the concept of play and the importance of what game designers term ‘productive failure’, or learning from mistakes to improve decision making.
“Playing gives us permission to try things we wouldn’t dream of doing in real life. Rather than fear failure we use it to learn and improve. This is exactly the kind of financial learning environment we want to create. 22seven must give us a chance to play in the ‘what if’ space of our money,” says Davel.
Another strategic component is behavioural economics, the study of the social, cognitive and emotional impulses that drive economic decision-making. “We have used this body of knowledge to understand why we are stupid when it comes to money and to design a service that highlights where common mistakes are made,” says Davel.
22seven is currently a South African focused service that makes it possible to automatically gather transaction information from local bank accounts, credit and store cards.
The launch version is in beta and will be free. Once ready, 22seven will cost R70 per month with the first month free.
When discussing the subscription based business model, Davel reiterates the importance of independence. “We will never recommend products or service providers to our users and will never be a sales channel for financial institutions. By charging a subscription we are aligning our commercial intent with the happiness of our clients. We have to consistently add value to customers’ lives or go out of business,” says Davel.
“22seven is a personal money service that knows that emotion, sentiment and desire are more powerful than rationality when it comes to decision making. It works with our humanness rather than against it,” concludes Davel.
Read more reactions to 22seven and weigh in with your own opinion:
- Memeburn: Why 22seven is most probably, but not necessarily safe
- Simon Dingle: Why it’s safe to use 22seven
- Kwanto Zonkwe: On common sense and convenience (22 seven)
Ideate is one of South Africa's biggest business blogs, with a team of authors all of whom have had entrepreneurial experience. Ideate is read by entrepreneurs thinking BIG. Follow us on Twitter here. View more articles by Staff Reporter.