Many personal financial management tools were designed to pool payment data from multiple accounts, but a few companies are testing a different premise by offering tools to analyze the data of just one account.
The Jump Card, created by Chicago-based Synchology, is a prepaid card built with a suite of money management tools. Recently the company announced The Branded Payments Platform, a white-label system allowing other companies to use Synchology's technology.
"[We tried] to disregard the traditional history of how people look at payments," says Doug Bobenhouse, CEO of Synchology. "In terms of the user experience we didn't want to think so much about online banking [platforms] because it's been largely unsuccessful."
Synchology created the PFM platform based on other user-friendly systems outside the payments space, including e-mail and iTunes.
"Our primary focus is marketing prepaid debit cards with valuable rewards and fantastic money management tools," Bobenhouse says. "We determined that none of the existing prepaid debit card platforms met our requirements for user experience and functionality, so we built our own."
The card allows users to earn reward points for every dollar spent, and cardholders can redeem those points for cash or gift cards. Synchology charges a $5 monthly fee for the Jump Card.
Bync takes a different approach to personal financial management, but its pricing could encourage consumers to use it with only one account. Its service is free only for the first account linked. Second account costs $3.99 per month, four accounts cost $5.99 per month and unlimited accounts and cards costs $9.99 per month. Boulder, Colo.-based Bync began as a PFM tool but switched its model to daily deals in January.
Other PFM providers avoid charging per account linked. ReadyForZero Inc. charges a $4.99 monthly fee for users that enable payments, and PageOnce Inc. charges a transaction fee for users who fund bill payments with a credit card. Intuit Inc.'s Mint.com makes money by urging users to switch to new accounts that better suit their spending and saving habits.
Offering a single-account PFM function with a prepaid card "tends to make more sense because generally within the population that has prepaid cards there's not as high an integration with credit cards; most of this demographic doesn't have credit cards," says Madeline Aufseeser, a senior analyst with the Aite Group.
The market will continue to see similar products, blending prepaid and checking relationships with PFM strategies attached, she says. Green Dot Corp.'s mobile bank account, GoBank, recently launched with a budget management tool called Ask the Fortune Teller, which helps users judge the wisdom of any purchases they are considering.
Synchology says it may someday allow users to add third-party accounts to the PFM tool if it suits users' spending habits.
"The Jump Card is an FDIC-insured account with functionality that exceeds that available with most checking accounts making it a worthy stand -alone account," Bobenhouse says. "However, it is also a great companion account and can be used as a 'bucketed' financial management tool."