Goodbye banking apps? Fintech chatbot Cleo raises £2m in seed funding

The start-up will use the funding for product development, recruitment and international expansion, as Jason Goodman also becomes a director

First there was bank tellers, then banking apps – and now chatbots?

That’s the hope of London-based fintech start-up Cleo – whose AI chatbot wants to manage your money.

Raising £2m worth of seed funding in round led by Robin Klein of LocalGlobe, which also included existing investors Niklas Zennstrom, founder of Skype, and Jason Goodman, founder of Albion, Cleo allows users to interact with their own personal finance assistant via Facebook Messenger.

Users can connect all their credit and debit cards to the AI-infused app, allowing them to ask ‘Cleo’ typical banking queries traditionally handled by a teller or manually via an app, such as “what is my balance?” or “what was my biggest spend this month?”.

Targeted towards digital natives, Cleo claims to understand “natural language” and can aid users with everything from viewing their transactions, to saving money, sending money to Facebook friends via Messenger, finding better deals on bills or subscriptions or even comparing spending habits to peers.

Launched in January 2017, the app is founded by Barney Hussey-Yeo who claims that  77% of Cleo users have stopped using their bank’s app within three months.

The fintech start-up will use the funding for product development, recruitment and international expansion, as Jason Goodman also becomes a director.

One of our tech trends for 2017, chatbots are fast becoming the ‘go-to’ customer service format for large businesses and even smaller start-ups across the globe.

With an increased emphasis on authenticity, chatbots are often given personable qualities, such as a name or human-sounding voice in an attempt to pass as actual human beings.

Hussey-Yeo said:

“Legacy banking software is unable to cater to the needs of a generation that is used to instant responses and real time interaction.

“We designed Cleo to make it easy for anyone to understand where their money is going, to easily save, or to send money to friends instantly through a familiar interface.”

Robin Klein, general partner at LocalGlobe and lead investor in Cleo, said:

“We were very impressed with the application of AI to engage a community of digital natives frustrated with the difficulties of communicating with traditional banks.

“In a short time, the Cleo team has already demonstrated product execution for growth and retention of its target demographic. People using the service really understand where their money is going and can find ways to save and replace with better financial products.”

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