Last week I wrote about a new personal finance app called Seedly that I've started using to track my expenses. It's one of a kind in Singapore in the sense that it is able to extract transaction information from your bank accounts in the 5 major banks in Singapore and allocate them into expense and income categories.
The process is a bit tedious as I need to manually log in to my bank account using Seedly each time I do a download, it's a small price to pay considering I no longer have to manually enter my expenses each time I use my credit card or pay for something online. To me, that's Seedly's main differentiation between popular personal finance software like YNAB.
After posting my article, a reader also questioned how good Seedly's security is, given the fact that I am passing sensitive information like login details to my bank account through the app. I thought it's a good idea to field this question to the team at Seedly and hear what they have to say.
I sent a quick email to the team at Seedly to request for an interview and I'm surprised that Kenneth Lou, Co-founder of Seedly got back to me within the hour agreeing to the interview. I guess that's the difference between engaging a start-up and a multinational company. We agreed to do an email interview due to our busy work schedules.
Tell me about Seedly and why the company was started
It started from my co-founder's CTO Tee Ming personal pain with budgeting having lived in US for a year and living as a student-working adult. He subsequently built the first version of Seedly on web, and won a hackathon for it. When I met him in the US and after that heading back to Singapore, we started to raise a first round of funding for Seedly and started in our last semester here at NUS 🙂 We found that such a product could potentially have a huge appeal here, together with a mix of fintech movement coming from MAS side.
Especially, we felt that there are tons of financial products and advice out there, but we never really know what is relevant for us, and it often takes alot of time to research. So we decided how we can short-circuit the process with a personal finance assistant role.
Can you introduce yourself and your team?
We are a team of 5 now comprising of 2 software engineers and 1 UIUX and 1 growth and 1 biz development. A small team now but we feel strongly about the product and idea, as at the end of the day, we are building this for people just like us 🙂 Solving our own problems as we negotiate adult-hood heading towards understanding how can we best deal with our own personal finances.
Can you describe the idea of Seedly as if I knew nothing about it or the market?
Your everyday personal finance app that helps you save time and spend smarter. View all your accounts in one place by importing bank transactions, and generate insights from our Seedly platform* coming soon.
Can you tell me about your ideal user for Seedly?
Fresh graduate, planning to get married or just married, planning for a house, with basic debt like student loan, or home loan to pay for. He or she is looking to get a basic view of their finances but do not want to open up excel sheets or use complicated financial modelling tools for their own basic finances.
What problems do Seedly intend to solve?
As described above. too much information and products, too little relevance to me... (as a user) Helping users make the right financial decisions from expenses, savings and in the future, investments.
Giving Seedly access to personal banking accounts seems rather risky. What security measures have your team implemented on Seedly to prevent any unauthorized access or transactions from happening?
We totally understand the concerns and I believe rightfully so. On our end we take security as top priority being users ourselves and understanding that financial data is highly private.
Here are some of the security steps we adopt:
- We have only read-only access to user accounts and its basically for reading transactions and importing them
- We do not store banking credentials in view of MAS rules
- We also adopt the highest standard of asymmetric encryption when handling the import of transactions via a secure channel
- The credentials and one-time password become invalid after the import occurs
- Lastly, we have very little identifiable information to end users (only name and email)
There is a full list here to highlight them.
Again, we fully understand and are also working with the banks to work around a deeper integration for real-time transactions and etc.
Can you give us some insider tips on what's coming up next for Seedly?
Something along the lines of giving useful recommendations potentially.. 🙂 something that is smarter and not just any other manual-tracking apps (there are honestly too many of them out there *laugh*)
Tee Ming, and I are both really bent on creating a CAR not a faster-HORSE, as it goes back to the saying of how FORD Motor Company started 🙂
What action do you want the reader to take after reading this interview?
Try out Seedly, and let us know what you are really thinking... what are pressing concerns that you have from day-to-day. Oh yes, and share this with any of your friends who may be interested as well in something really basic.
A big thanks to Kenneth for taking the time to do this interview. I know you're super busy and running a start-up does mean that you need to do everything yourself.
This is my first interview article and I'd love to hear your comments on how I can improve. At the same time, if you have any question for Kenneth, please feel free to leave them in the comment box below.