The fintech entrepreneurs bringing mindfulness to banking

Falmouth-based Money Story pioneers a new style of contemplative finance

Mindfulness has been one of the top wellbeing trends of the past few years, with meditation apps like Headspace and Calm helping people find peace in a stressful world.

Both have been in high demand since 2015 and continue to grow, according to TechCrunch. Calm signed up 24 million new users in 2019, while Headspace garnered another 13 million.

But while mindfulness apps may help people find moments of calm, they’re less good at helping people tackle the root causes of stress – like money, bills and debt. A new startup on Falmouth University’s Launchpad incubator programme thinks there’s an opportunity to change that, through an approach they’re calling ‘contemplative finance’.

Money Story promotes financial wellbeing through mindfulness

“Apps like Calm and Headspace have shown that you can use a digital product to check in on yourself,” says Jones Oviawe, co-founder of Money Story. “We want to bring that principle of mindfulness to the world of finance, to help people improve their financial wellbeing.”

L-R Franta Nushart and Jones Oviawe, co-founders of Money Story

Oviawe and co-founder Franta Nushart were initially tasked by HSBC to find a way to get more young people engaged in managing their own finances. Many young people avoid opening statements or thinking proactively about budgeting or saving – and that’s often because the financial advice they come across isn’t attuned to their personality.

“You might read an article that says you should budget. But there are lots of ways to budget, and if you use one that doesn’t suit you, research shows you quickly abandon it,” says Oviawe. “Our goal is to help you figure out what kind of budgeter you are, so you can do it in the right way for you.”

“Our goal is to help you figure out what kind of budgeter you are, so you can do it in the right way for you.”

jones oviawe, co-founder, money story

Money Story does this through what Oviawe and Nushart call ‘quests’: short meditation-style experiences that help users to think about their attitudes towards money, and then encourage them to make small commitments towards changing their behaviour.

“A quest is something granular that you can choose to take on, follow it through, and feel good about completing it,” says Nushart. “And as you progress, you can earn new ones.”

An app that adapts to different financial circumstances

While the original target demographic was young people starting out on an independent life, Oviawe and Nushart have designed the app so it can adapt to help people in many different financial circumstances. The pair are currently working with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau to design quests that help people think about debt and take small steps to manage it.

In doing so, they think Money Story could help to take the fear and anxiety out of confronting financial realities.

“We aim to make it pleasant, simple and fun to explore financial ideas. And if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you can choose to bring in your financial data and look at what you can do to optimise your outcomes,” says Oviawe.

“But it’s not a transactional app – we want to be the place you go first, to figure stuff out.”

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