What’s the alternative for people who don’t trust banks?

Five years after Barclay’s Bank boss Bob Diamond said the time was over for banks to apologise for the financial crisis, a significant proportion of the population still disagree with the man who was in line for a multi-million pound bonus at the time. That disagreement has led many to vote with their phones, and take personal banking into the app era. Expense management app creator Solo Expenses looks at one personal banking app, in the certain knowledge that others will enter the market in due course…

In recent years the banks have not held a warm place in our hearts. Quite the opposite in fact, and many now mistrust the caretakers of our money. Instead of hiding our cash under the mattress, some have taken the whole banking process digital, making an app the new bank.

As we move into the age of mobile technology and cloud based expense management, the ‘new banks’ are catering to the demographic who live their lives through their phones. Monzo; recently rebranded from Mondo, a London-based ‘financial technology start-up is one such app.

Having secured a restricted banking licence, with the hope of alleviating any restrictions, the company plans on doing away with the cheque book and the high-street branch in favour of focusing on consumer interactions through the app. The app can primarily be used as a money management tool; by topping up the card you can use it at cash points, in stores, online and of course, it’s also contactless. Other features include spending analysis, which will be released as the app is fully integrated in the coming months.

The main attraction of Monzo is the power to manage your money through the app and receive instant balance updates, plus tracking where you spend your money. Each payment is categorised so you can see how much you’ve spent on eating out, bills or groceries. You’re issued with a Monzo current account card; which you load up with funds from an existing account, then, after your first payment, away you go. The app is currently compatible with iOS on iPhone, and Android has been enabled very recently.

Unlike most mobile banking apps, payments are processed immediately and shows how much has been spent with a quick notification and balance update – handy if your shop has turned into more of a spree. This is then tracked with a quirky new feature that pins on a map exactly where each purchase took place. Telling you how many times you’ve visited certain shops and how much has been spent there (sometimes you’d be better off not knowing).

With the rise in identity theft and digital fraud we’re always on the lookout. There’s always that jolt of panic that comes with not knowing where your card is. Did I drop it? Has someone picked it up? Why did I go contactless?! Luckily, Monzo users will have the peace of mind of being able to temporarily freeze their cards using the app, or even deactivating them completely.

Expense Manager AppAs a money management tool the app provides the user with a way of curtailing their spending, they can load up the card with their weekly budget and limit themselves to the funds available. Or, as a way of giving pocket money and knowing exactly where it’s being spent.

For business users Monzo could give employees an app account to charge expenses to, limiting what they charge to the company. However, small business expense management is only as effective as the strategies you have in place, because tracking them can sometimes be another job in itself.

The Monzo app is specialised in tracking your personal spending. Solo Expenses will do that for you for nothing, as the free-to-download entry level of its four expense management options. The other three are geared to fit businesses of varying size. By employing Solo Expenses’ cloud based expense management system, you can save time by claiming from anywhere.

Independent business will always have a paper trail, no matter how digital we get, so a method of quickly storing receipts in your phone is an ideal waypoint between the digital and physical. With Solo Expenses you can photograph the receipt and store it in the app without fuss – handy for those quick expense purchases. The expense tracking software, which can also link your accountant to the data you’ve stored into the Solo Expenses app, means, voila, quick, easily-formatted expense reports.

Originally created for the sole trader – and the first app of its kind in that field – Solo Expenses gives you the option to turn your personal expense management app into a tool for business, from a company with two or three employees to a corporate with two or three thousand.

The Monzo app is likely to be what we’ll be seeing more of in the near future; a tailored app to look after your personal money, like having your local branch in your back pocket. But Solo Expenses’ expense reporting software takes care of your business money, like having a personal finance assistant along for the ride.