Aussie fintech Douugh rises up to the algo challenge

Most of us consciously know there are certain environmental or external triggers that cause us to spend more and save less. If you’re me, you never go to the supermarket hungry – very strange purchases can happen.

What most people don’t realise, is that as we live more and more of our lives online, we are increasingly vulnerable to algorithms designed to part us with our money by amplifying those very same triggers sub-consciously.

For those of us who are aware, we’ve noticed some seriously creepy behaviour of late. Put your hand up if recently you’ve experienced seeing an online ad for something you hand over heart are sure you’ve only ever thought about silently in your head?

Now faced with seemingly telepathic algos, not to mention the standard bread and butter stuff, it’s starting to get pretty ridiculous to expect me, or anyone for that matter, with one brain at their disposal, to manage their finances. You and I can’t possibly compete.

The first generation of PFM apps did try to provide a line of defence. But spend categorisation and budgeting is now akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight. It’s time for the bots to fight it out.

Australian startup Douugh is one fintech startup taking on the challenge. Douugh’s AI powered personal financial assistant Sophie wants to one day become a ‘financial control centre’ for its users. To put financial management on ‘autopilot’. Considering most of our online spending is being driven by Facebook and Google’s ‘autopilot’ algorithms, the concept of Sophie certainly feels like it will even the playing field.

This week Douugh announced it had secured a partnership with Mastercard. The news comes as the local startup revs up its pre-IPO crowdfunding campaign, with listing plans slated for 2019, subject to approvals. The company will launch first in the US, through a partnership with mutual bank Choice.

Apps like Douugh are the antidotes we need to cure the spending behaviours we don’t even know are being triggered. Who knows – maybe we’ll be able to diagnose financial diseases in the future, and some of these algorithms will be viewed akin to the tobacco industry. It certainly is a brave new world.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

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