Thoughts on Weekly

Our new app Weekly has been out for a couple of weeks now. As I wrote in my last post, Weekly is based on my master’s thesis. I want to share a few thoughts on my own experience with Weekly.

So far reception has been pretty good. At the time of writing, 90% of reviews on the App Store have been given five star ratings and momentarily we managed to outpace Snapchat on the Danish download top charts.

But, what I’ve enjoyed most about the launch of Weekly, is how people went sort of crazy tagging each other in Jyske Bank’s Facebook post about the new app. With great enthusiasm, people hinted at their friends, family, and loved ones that they might be much in need of an app like Weekly, to get a little more in control of their spending. Hopefully such enthusiasm will help to keep driving up Weekly’s user count in the time to come.

Facebook comments on Weekly
People tagging each other in Jyske Bank’s Facebook post about the release of Weekly. Top post: “Omg how brilliant”. Bottom post: “Are you trying to tell me something”.

It is of course way to soon, to start judging whether Weekly is succeeding in making its users feel better about their spending. It is going to take – well – weeks. However, I want to share a couple of experiences I’ve had during our beta-testing, where I believe Weekly started to prove its worth.

Raising awareness with notifications

Like myself, some of you may have experienced how going to a music festival can be quite a terrifying experience, in terms of having to deal with your bank account on monday morning once the festival is over.

On a weekend shortly before its launch, I took Weekly out for a spin at the Northside festival in Aarhus, Denmark. Every time I took money out of my card during the festival, I got a notification from Weekly telling me how much I had spent and how much I had left.

Notifications from Weekly app
Every time you spend money, Weekly will notify you and tell how much you’ve spent and how much you have left for the rest of the week.

I’m not going to get into a debate over how such notifications could lead to stinginess and how that may affect the festival experience. However, I believe that such notifications will help you keep track of your spending and as such lead to a better festival experience. At least checking your bank account once the festival has ended will be less terrifying.

In my opinion Weekly’s notifications brings a lot of tangibility to spending money in the digital age. You can no longer take money out of your card and then go on for a couple of days, without knowing how it has affected your finances.

In this regard one may argue that there was no need for a new app. We could simply have added notifications to Jyske Bank’s existing mobile banking app. However, I believe there is a profound difference between knowing how much is left in your bank account and how much is left for the rest of the week, i.e. the rest of the festival. With Weekly those money in you bank account, that should last for the weeks to come after the festival, has been safely put aside.

Paying with your phone and spending money in real-time

Just before the launch of Weekly, I sat down to read the conclusion of my four years old master’s thesis. Almost at the end I had written a little about, how in the future, once we have phones with NFC or similar technology, we might be able to pay with our phones and directly experience money flow out of the Weekly app.

Well, guess what, we now can! For now, here in Denmark, we do have to rely on another app – namely Danske Bank’s MobilePay app. At select supermarkets in Denmark you can pay with MobilePay, simply by holding your phone up next to the cash register. Much like Apple Pay. If you’re using both Weekly and MobilePay you will get a notification from Weekly with an updated balance immediately, when the MobilePay payment has been confirmed. It’s almost as if your old credit card had a display with your account balance.

Weekly with MobilePay
Paying for your groceries with the MobilePay app you can instantly experience money flowing out of Weekly. Notification reads: “You have spent 55,40 DKK and have 298 DKK left for the rest of the week.”

A little note though. For this to work, everything must run in real-time. That is, Weekly must know instantly once the payment has been made. For now, this will only work if you use a Visa Debit card instead of the, in Denmark, more common Dankort. That’s because the Dankort relies on batch clearings, hence it may be hours before the bank even knows about your spending.

To put it straight. Weekly is more awesome with a Visa Debit card, because everything then happens in real-time. Again, this brings greater tangibility to spending money in the digital age. There is no longer any delay between the act of spending money and knowing the consequence of that spending.

Making things fit your worldview

A final thing we did for Weekly – a thing I’m quite proud of – is how we’ve changed how transactions get listed and dated. Usually banks lists and dates a transaction by when the bank has recorded the transaction, not by when you actually spent that money.

This makes good sense in terms of bookkeeping, running batch clearings, and calculating interest rates. But, it makes very little sense in terms of how you actually spend your money. So in Weekly we’re listing things, not by how the banks sees fit, but by the way you see things. By the date and in the order, that you took out your card and made each purchase. Good old common sense, if you buy something on Monday, it should not be listed under Tuesday. It’s a simple as that.

Mobile banking transactionWeekly transaction
Conventional banking app (first image) lists a transaction by the date it was recorded, Monday July 6, 2015. In Weekly (second image) the same transaction is listed under Friday July 3, 2015, the day that the payment was actually made.

I believe that these principles – timely information, e.g. through notifications, in real-time, and by a data model, that fits the user’s worldview and not the system’s – is the true foundation of Weekly. They set Weekly apart just as much, as the concept of splitting things into weeks instead of months. But these principles does not only hold true for Weekly. They should guide almost anything we do, when building services and apps around your digital money.