SmartyPig is hoping people will start saving in the same way they "like" or tweet about a product online — with a click or a tap.
The Des Moines company, which provides an online savings account and a prepaid card, has created a Chrome plugin (a piece of Google-approved software that works with the search giant's popular Chrome browser) that will help its users save specifically for that big screen TV they've always wanted without logging into SmartyPig's website. The OneClick icon will sit at the top of the browser.
Every time a user decides to start planning ahead for a purchase, that person clicks on the SmartyPig icon and the plugin will present a form that's prepopulated with a picture of the item, its price and the category under which it falls. The user will then decide how much to start saving initially and additionally designate how much she wants to sock away and when.
The cash can be moved into a bank account, prepaid card or gift card. The user will have to log in through the Chrome plugin every time the browser launches.
Eventually, SmartyPig will begin selling its OneClick software to banks through its Social Money Systems arm. SmartyPig already sells its savings systems to banks through its back-office savings account platform, CorePro, as well as its customer-facing Goal Saver tool. In the future, OneClick could be white-labeled for online sellers, as well.
The process, SmartyPig co-founder Jon Gaskell explains, is just more automatic and natural than inputting information in a separate Web page.
"Our customers are saving for very specific items they want to spend their money on. We wanted to make this as easy as possible," he says. "The way we used SmartyPig in the past was we had a customer start a goal and choose a category. Now we are moving to exact items."
Users should be able to start downloading the software from Google's Chrome Web Store on Wednesday. The software took about three months to develop.
No doubt, OneClick could go far in increasing adoption of SmartyPig's goal-setting services.
"Our view is that if you can simplify all of this complex information that a consumer has to navigate ... as a payments company, you will win," says James Van Dyke, the president and founder of Javelin Strategy and Research, which was recently purchased by Greenwich Associates. "SmartyPig's play is kind of interesting."
This is just the latest iteration for the company, which has played in the past with similar innovations.
SmartyPig was one of the first to marry geolocation with merchant funded rewards, in 2011. It abandoned the feature last spring, citing a lack of utility.
"SmartyPig is a great example of how technology can be used creatively to encourage good financial behavior by consumers — save before spend rather than put it on credit and risk piling debt," says Celent senior analyst Zil Bareisis. "I've always seen them as a very innovative company in attracting customer deposits, and this product is the latest impressive addition to their growing list of innovative ideas."
"We are constantly making our own products better ... and executing on new ideas," Gaskell says. "We want to stay on the leading edge for all of our clients."
SmartyPig's customer deposits are held at BBVA Compass Bank, the U.S. unit of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA.