IFTTT is addictive, but will it help new-age banks?


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IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and as an application has been around for eight years. It is a free app that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements called applets. I can set up an applet that shares the Medium posts I have clapped on to LinkedIn. This requires me to authenticate myself on both services and provide explicit permissions to talk to each, with a few simple button clicks.

We know the IoT, and IFTTT can be termed the Internet of Services (IoS). @jellerm posted an article that touched upon IFTTT in personal finance management, describing the usefulness of such a customized user experience.

Last week Monzo bank had announced integration of their banking app to IFTTT. This got me experimenting with the cool possibilities of IFTTT and realised it was a such a time saver for Social Media. But the interesting possibilities of making these services talk to each other was not just exciting, but also addictive.

I started with some basic social media applets, but went on to create alerts for so many, including pollen levels in my area. There are quite a few smart home applications of this functionality and I am only surprised that, I hadn’t been using this app all these years.

But is this useful enough in the context of Financial Services? What was Monzo thinking when they came up with the idea to open up their services to IFTTT applets? They claim that they had only customer experience in mind when they launched this integration. I think there is a lot more to it.

Enabling IFTTT on a service would be like creating a sandbox environment, or in technology terms, a parallel production environment. As customers create these rules/applets, it would give Monzo the spectrum of use cases it could build onto their banking app.

Its like making customers tell you what they want – without you asking for it. The cool aspect is that, Monzo have just enabled the use case and not built it themselves, but the customers are already benefiting through the applet. The number of times these applets are used would tell Monzo the real demand for a particular functionality.

Many use cases with direct debits, payments categorisation, invoice payments or generation can be automated using IFTTT. Many PFM use cases, as described by Jessica in her article on Tink can be achieved using IFTTT. These are possible use cases, but only time will tell if they are actually going to be popular and practical.

While I prefer to open up my banking app to check my balance, the next generation would most likely ask Alexa. And they can also get Alexa to transfer £100 pounds from their current to savings account if they said “Alexa, I feel responsible” and get the reverse transaction to happen if they said “Alexa, surprise me”.  The good thing is, they won’t be interacting with the bank at both times.

If IFTTT integration becomes a common theme across digital banks, Financial Services will most likely be integrated into various other life style services and transactions. And when we use banking services, we mostly wouldn’t realize or know that a bank existed behind these interactions.

Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Fintech thought leader and an investor. 

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