Solving The Last Mile Problem In Finance

Benedetta Arese Lucini
Follow: @OvalMoney 

If I have to find just a few words that best describe me, I would use dreamer, doer and challenge lover. I have always undertaken inspiring opportunities that have often led me to move city, country or even continent in search of a new challenge. I’ve always been in love with tech. My father has been a tech entrepreneur since the day I was born and very early on I fell in love with his first personal computer that he would bring home.

The road to Oval Money was rich in experiences, amazing mentors and colleagues that I met along the way. These encounters helped to fully form my conviction that technology is the most powerful enabler of inclusion. Its penetration and ease of use creates incredible experiences for people left out of traditional industries.

Uber, the startup I helped launch in Italy, is a clear example of how technology can impact inclusion. Through its platform, Uber created an authentic opportunity for anyone to work as a driver on one side, and to be a passenger on the other, reaching the far outskirts of cities which other transport methods couldn’t reach. In the same way, when my now co-founders came to pitch me the idea that evolved into Oval Money, I was immediately attracted by the potential of a financial planning solution that enabled saving and investing for everyone through easy access and effective financial education.

Oval is a platform that helps financial providers reach a new set of customers directly, particularly those with lower initial capital. To do this, we have designed a new multi-sided marketplace that will connect users with financial product and service providers. Users will benefit from a single place where they can save automatically on a recurring basis, linked to their lifestyle habits, and have access to a full range of financial products and services that can grow their savings. Financial providers will benefit from scale – a way to put their offerings in front of many users at once, reducing the need for them to favor just those with the most initial capital. Creating such a marketplace helps to keep both sides honest.

With the introduction of new regulations like PSD2, the financial services industry will go through a considerable transformation in the coming years. I believe that the competitive advantage of financial services companies lies in their existing payment transactions infrastructure, and their multiple compliance and risk operations, which are often impossible to replicate for the newest startups given the required capital and intense regulatory scrutiny.

Open Banking is the beginning of a new era in which banks and financial service providers will increasingly leverage the strength of their distribution networks and existing transactions infrastructure, while partnering with consumer-friendly and data driven startups which can revolutionise the last mile delivery of the financial services themselves. Today, the consumer experience is cumbersome, but Open Banking APIs will mean a faster, easier and more seamless service across all providers.

With due care for privacy laws and anonymisation of data, Open Banking will mean an enhanced experience for our users and account connectivity with the full range of banks. This will make the benefits of regular saving available to even more people with the opportunity to deliver customised solutions for groups that are often left out.

What motivates me is our experience of those moments when you feel overwhelmed by money. We have felt the guilt of spending and the frustration of saving. We have turned to our families and friends for advice when our banks had nothing to say. We have seen things that we want and thought it impossible to acquire them. We have felt we deserve more. Oval Money was created in response to these feelings. It is not just a technology that lives on your phone, but an answer to how we feel about money when we don’t know what we should do.

Benedetta Arese Lucini Co founder of Oval Money will be speaking at Innovate Finance Global Summit, London, 19 – 20 March