Member Spotlight: Look Who’s Charging, partnering with financial institutions
Three years after first bringing their technology to market with National Australia Bank, Look Who’s Charging has just launched with their 23rd banking customer. They have completed integrations with three of the big four banks as well as a number of others including Bankwest, Suncorp, Bank Australia and Newcastle Permanent.
For this week’s Member Spotlight, we spoke to David Washbrook, Co-Founder and General Manager of Look Who’s Charging, about their journey, the challenges they encountered and his thoughts for fintechs that are trying to secure clients in the financial services sector.
Cryptic Data — how Look Who’s Charging was born
Often, bank statements can seem like they’re written in a different language. Merchant descriptions are unrecognisable, and the location of your purchase can often seem wrong. For example, you buy some groceries from your local IGA store, and the transaction comes up as “VANS RETAIL GROUP PL.” For those trying to take control of their finances, it’s confusing — leaving everyday Australians and businesses with no idea where their money is going.
Unrecognised transactions are a major customer problem. With a rapid shift in people transitioning away from cash, a trend accelerated by COVID-19, customer calls querying transaction descriptions have significantly increased. There are also often unnecessary card cancellations due to transactions looking unfamiliar, creating worry that they may be fraudulent, and causing significant inconvenience to the consumer as they have to change their recurring payments over to a new card.
Look Who’s Charging’s technology enables banks and consumers, for the first time, to truly understand bank statement data. It provides a deep, meaningful and accurate view of a consumer’s income, expenses and financial position in real-time.
According to recent research, up to two thirds of people surveyed have at some point queried an unrecognised transaction with their bank, and 98% of respondents want clearer merchant information in their digital banking applications. However, prior to Look Who’s Charging no-one has been able to solve this problem.
Much of the banking industry has been focused on advanced functionality like, for example, AI powered chatbots and lending automation. However, customers still faced the problem of being able to interpret simple data. Before implementing some of these advanced functions, the banks have realised that they first need to go back to basics and provide transaction information everyone could understand: a proper trading name, the right location, category details and a merchant’s contact details.
Interpreting the underlying data to a high degree of accuracy then forms the foundations for banks to integrate more advanced functionality into their digital applications.
“While the problem is fairly basic to understand, solving it is incredibly complex. There are over 1.2 million card-accepting merchants in Australia, with 60,000 new merchants each year and over 125 million different ways that these merchants can appear on a statement,” said David Washbrook, Co-Founder and General Manager of Look Who’s Charging.
“There is no silver bullet, the Look Who’s Charging solution relies on hundreds of different data sources, cutting edge technology like AI and machine learning, as well the network effect from the feedback gathered from the millions of Australians who view our data every single day.”
Since incorporating in 2017, Look Who’s Charging’s technology has been integrated by 23 financial institutions including three of the big four banks.
Advice for other founders
Learning from the challenges that Look Who’s Charging encountered, David has three key tips for startups and fintechs that want to partner with large financial institutions.
- Firstly, Banks are looking for products that solve a genuine customer problem, save costs and help meet regulatory requirements. If your product only ticks one of these three boxes then you may struggle to get traction, tick two or all three of the boxes and you should get some traction;
- Finding the right person to sponsor you. Banks are large organisations. Keep knocking on doors and one will eventually open; and
- Ensure that your business has the appropriate security credentials. Even if you have a great product a bank will struggle to work with you without the relevant security certificates.