We tried Cleo, the UK personal finance management chatbot that's currently growing rapidly in the US - here's our verdict

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UK-based Cleo, an AI-powered personal finance management (PFM) chatbot with 120,000 users in its home market,entered the US in late February.

Since then, it’s reportedly been signing up 1,000 users per day to an alpha version of Cleo that’s working on a US dialect. The chatbot provides insight into spending patterns, as well as boasting budget and peer-to-peer payment features.

Given the quick traction Cleo has been amassing in the US, we decided to give it a try:

  • The interface is familiar and user friendly. Cleo operates via Facebook Messenger, and users can chat to it the way they would with any other friend on the platform. A user can ask to see their account balance, to setup a budget, or even how much they spent on groceries in the last month. The chatbot also provides a dashboard that gives users a snapshot of their financial life, including a thorough breakdown of spending patterns by transaction, category, or merchant.
  • The overall experience is still a little buggy.Although the chatbot was able to answer our questions without trouble, some of the data it provided wasn’t quite right. For example, Cleo mistook a money transfer to another account for a bill payment, making it seem as though more was spent in March than actually was. That said, the chatbot is still very new to the US, and the company warns users that it is still ironing out a number of kinks. This strategy of acquiring users to identify issues before a wider release is also employed by big names in fintech like Monzo.

Cleo’s familiar interface could help it stand out in the crowded US PFM market. The chatbot is entering a space that has seen many fold in the face of heavy competition, especially from incumbents like TD Bank joining the race.

However, Cleo’s home inside a commonly used platform could help it reach US consumers where they are already spending their time – Messenger is the most popular messaging app in the US, according to data from SimilarWeb. Moreover, that engaging with Cleo mirrors interactions users have with their friends will likely make using the chatbot even more seamless. Given Cleo’s already high uptake in the country, it appears this proposition is resonating, and the company will probably continue to see success.

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