After operating in stealth mode for the best part of a year, Perth startup WeMoney has burst onto the Aussie fintech scene with a $2 million funding round, for its app helping people manage their finances, with a sense of community.
The funding round was led by BetterLabs, the Perth-based venture arm of RAC. Full Circle VC also participated, along with former Fairfax exec Rob Antulov, Proviso founder Luke Howes, Prospa chief commercial officer Ben Lamb, and Harmoney chief Ben Taylor.
WeMoney founder and chief Dan Jovevski comes from a background in banking and lending, and previously founded startup SwitchMyLoan, which was acquired in 2017.
Needless to say, he knows the extent to which everyday Aussies are disconnected from their own financial wellbeing.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the financial spectrum or the stack. Money is a really hard, confusing and boring topic,” he tells SmartCompany.
His latest venture was born after the founder spent a short stint studying at Harvard University, where he “started going down this really deep rabbit warren around behavioural sciences and economics, and why people make really bad decisions when it comes to money”.
“When you have heaps of complexity in your life … trying to manage all of that at scale is very very difficult for a lot of people,” he notes.
“It actually leads to some pretty bad outcomes.”
In his research, one theme stood out. People in their 20s were getting themselves into significant debt, and as a result, struggle to reach their goals later on, he explains.
Jovevski created WeMoney in a bid to tackle the root cause of how people find themselves in financial difficulty, and to help them avoid it.
Transparency meets community
The platform aggregates a user’s various financial apps and platforms, giving them “a 360-degree view of all their money in one place”.
It will then offer ‘smart’ recommendations using behavioural science and machine learning, helping people achieve better financial outcomes.
In addition, through a partnership with a credit bureau, users can see their own credit information, he adds.
“Your credit score is going to become incredibly important,” he says.
And finally, there’s the community aspect that “really is the ‘we’ in WeMoney” Jovevski says.
There’s been a generational shift in the way people talk about their financial situation, he notes. People are much more open.
“There are generations of young people — Gen Zs and millennials — actively talking about how much debt they’re in, how much they’re earning, what they’re doing to help themselves out,” he says.
“This community-driven phenomenon has really taken off.”
WeMoney strives to offer a place for people to have those conversations in a safe space, as well as sharing tips, stories and aspirations. Already, early users are connecting to share discount codes and advice for saving on groceries, for example.
“People are becoming increasingly frugal,” Jovevski explains.
“You’re accessing a passionate community of people who are in the exact same position as you.”
Emerging from stealth mode
The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a bit of a boost to several Aussie fintechs, as people become more used to doing their banking online, and as the economic crisis drives consumers away from traditional service providers.
But, WeMoney has been operating in stealth mode until now.
Even though the first version of the product was released in early February, Jovevski and the team have been building, and raising, under the radar.
“We’ve been co-creating the product with a core group of users,” the founder explains.
“We really wanted to release a product to market that was compelling,” he adds.
“We’ve spent a lot of time — probably an unhealthy amount of time — speaking to people directly and really getting a deeper insight into how they’re using the product.”
The idea has been to iron out any issues, and to fully understand the user experience before releasing WeMoney to a wider audience.
Each new test user has a better experience than the one before, he adds.
Even now, the product is still “super-exclusive”.
It’s invite-only, with a waiting list of keen users waiting to be onboarded.
“It’s important we onboard people at the right speed and cadence, and also curate that experience for each customer,” he adds.
“It will probably be invitation-only for another couple of months.”
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the economic effects of the pandemic will be lasting.
In such an environment, Jovevski believes fintech tools will be “critical” for consumers.
With unemployment and under-employment levels rocketing, and the complexities of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs to navigate, it can be harder than usual to understand your own financial position, he says.
“That creates a lot of anxiety and stress in people’s lives, which can manifest and create really bad outcomes.”
With WeMoney, Jovevski intends not only to simplify financial management and give people a clearer understanding of where they’re at, but to give them some hope, as well.
Again, it comes down to that community aspect, and emotional connection, he says.
When you think of fintech tools for personal finance management, you think of the dashboard and the numbers. But there’s more to it than that, Jovevski says.
“I think money, to a lot of people, is much deeper,” he explains.
It’s not only about offering function, he adds. It’s about focusing on the emotional connection people have to their finances.
“How do we improve their emotional wellbeing when it comes to money?
“That has much more tangible long-term benefits than just giving them certain features.”