- Goldman Sachs last year bought Clarity Money, a personal finance app, to bolster its Marcus retail banking business. Business Insider reported at the time that it was a part of an effort to build the ultimate financial destination for the masses.
- Last week, it was reported that Goldman Sachs is partnering with Apple to launch a new credit card paired with fresh iPhone features.
- To get an idea of what these iPhone features might look like, I tried using Clarity Money. The online product, which is akin to Mint, tracks all your income, expenses and spending patterns.
- The app is slick, but it lacks features of some of its competitors like Mint and Personal Capital.
Goldman Sachs stepped into the consumer banking in 2016, and last year it acquired Clarity Money, a personal finance app. Now it’s stepping up its efforts.
Last week, it was reported that Goldman Sachs is partnering with Apple to launch a new credit card paired with fresh iPhone features.
The card will reportedly give customers additional features in Apple’s wallet app and allow them to “set spending goals, track their rewards, and manage their balances,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
That sounds similar to features already in use on the Clarity money app, so to get an idea of what these iPhone features might look like, I decided to try it out.
Similar to other fintech budgeting product like Mint, Clarity Money pulls users’ transaction information associated with traditional bank accounts into its platform. Then, it generates data charts breaking down the spending activities into details and flagging up unusual expenditures. In addition, the app offers a credit monitoring tool enabling users to keep an eye on their finance health.
Right now, Clarity Money is available on iOS and Android. Users can also access it through a web browser.
Here’s how it works:
Opening up a new account was quick and took me about a minute.
The sign-up process was super fast and only requested very basic information: name, email, and a password.
Then the app asks you to activate touch ID.
Every time when I log back into the app, I just need to touch the home button on my iPhone. The app also requires you to set up a passcode in case the Touch ID doesn’t work.
I linked my bank account to the app within a few minutes.
Once opening up a Clarity Money account, I was able to link my bank account to the app within a couple of minutes. The app listed all the different financial institutions it supports, and I simply chose my bank and went through the verification process to authorise the connection. The app also lets you consolidate multiple bank accounts. Once you match your bank account with the app, Clarity Money will start to collect data from that account to keep tabs on your personal finances.
The interface is pretty sleek.
Sitting at the top of the dashboard is a display with your account balances for checking, savings and credit cards. The app also displays charts that track all your transactions from recent expenses to recurring purchases like newspaper subscriptions or gym memberships.
This is how I spent my money over the last month.
The app records every dollar that I spent through the bank account, from grocery bills to top-ups on my Metro Card. But it didn’t add tags to each transaction like other budgeting apps do. To put it into perspective, Clarity Money didn’t attach a tag to the $US5.30 purchase that I made at Duane Reade. Personal Capital in contrast had a “Healthcare/Medical” tag underneath that transaction, and it also allows me to edit the name of that category. I changed the tag to “Medicine” for example. It would be helpful if Clarity Money could add this personalised touch to that user experience.
Here comes the Marcus cash management offering.
Clarity Money also allows you to open up a high yield savings account with Marcus, Goldman Sachs’ new online retail bank. The savings account offers 2.25% APY on the deposits.
First you need to fill in a electronic form with more personal information, including your address, social security number, occupation and income. Then you can tap into its auto-save feature, setting up an amount of money that you would like to put into savings every week or month for varied goals. For example, I authorised the app to transfer $US5 every month from my bank account to a Marcus account as I saved for an upcoming trip to Florida.
The account requires a $US1 minimum deposit and a maximum of six withdrawals or transfers per month. It also has maximum balance limits.
While the average retail banks continue to pay super low interest rates for savings accounts, a number of fintechs have rolled out high-yield cash management offerings. Wealthfront, a robo advisor, offers a cash account that pays 2.24% APY on deposits, while digital bank Varo Money pays as high as 2.8% for its high-yield savings account.
A neat feature that Clarity Money has is that it reminds you of all the unwanted subscriptions associated with your bank account.
Clarity Money reminds you of the recurring charges linked to the bank account – you may find out some unwanted expenses. The app also calculates how much you could save if you get rid of those fees and allows you to cancel subscriptions in just a few steps.
In my case, each month I spend $US3.99 on a New York Times’ digital subscription and $US14.95 for Audible’s monthly membership.
An in-app feature allows you to cancel unwanted subscriptions swiftly.
I can cancel an unwanted subscription by filling out a form in the matter of minutes. And the app did the maths for me, showing how much I could save in a year if I get rid of the payments.
The app divides my expenses into different categories.
Although Clarity Money doesn’t attach a label to a single purchase, in a separate tile it sifts through all the transactions and divides them into different categories, including education, commute, dining, health, and more. I can see a breakdown for the most recent two months. It would have been helpful to see how my expenses have changed over time.
You can also pull up a free credit score report.
Clarity Money can pull your credit score from the consumer reporting agency Experian. Still, the credit monitoring tool cannot help improve your personal credit history; it only allows you to keep an eye on it.
Personally, I like the app’s interface, which appears slick and clean, and its cancelation widget comes in handy. But that’s not to say the app is without its limitations. A lack of several features makes it less impressive than its competitors Mint and Personal Capital. For instance, the app doesn’t offer a budgeting function that sets aside money for you to cover recurring expenses. In addition, it’s not customisable enough, and doesn’t let you create custom tags labelling your expenses or move around the tiles in the dashboard.
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