Top tools to help people take control of their finances

  • Seoana Sherry-Brennan

    Seoana Sherry-Brennan

    Digital Communications and Prize Engagement Officer

    View profile

24 Mar 2020

Research from the Open Up 2020 Challenge conducted in January reveals one in four people feel uncomfortable about their current level of debt, yet often don’t know what to do about it.

It’s no secret that UK households are dependent on credit, with Financial Conduct Authority data revealing over three quarters of all UK adults hold at least one credit or loan product.[1] In many cases, this use of credit is due to people struggling to make ends meet. In fact, forty per cent of 18-34 year olds say they regularly run out of money each month, with 34 per cent of 35-54 year olds agreeing. In addition, a third of people don’t have a ‘rainy day’ savings fund, which can leave people reliant on credit for any unexpected bills. 

In light of this financial strain, it’s no surprise that six in ten want to feel more in control of their money. Yet, 39 per cent are unsure where to turn to for help with financial issues including debt. Open banking offers people the chance to get personalised, tailored support to help them manage their money by allowing regulated companies to securely analyse their bank data. There is a range of products available that use open banking to help people better manage and clear their debt, provide support to make financial plans, increase their financial well-being, reduce their uncertainty from one month to the next and throw them a lifeline at times of crisis, such as the current situation of self-isolation that many of us find ourselves in. 

“Open banking apps can throw people a lifeline at times of crisis or uncertainty”

Two open banking apps to help people take control of their debt are:

  1. Tully – a digital debt adviser for those struggling financially – providing online budgeting, debt advice, flexible repayments and money coaching to alleviate financial stress. 
  2. Updraft – a solution which automates day-to-day decisions involved in managing money, designed to help millennial users clear their overdraft, pay off credit cards and save more. 

In addition, there are open banking tools which offer alternatives to high-cost, short-term loans:

  1. Cleo – a financial assistant with a sense of humour, personality and intelligence that is already empowering over 3 million customers to reach their financial goals. As part of a broad range of services, Cleo offers up to £100 interest-free salary advance to help its customers avoid excessive bank charges.
  2. Creditspring – a credit membership service that provides loans and tools to build your financial stability without stress. You’ll get a boost to your spending when you need it, and peace of mind when you don’t.
  3. Portify – a holistic credit builder for modern workers with unconventional earnings patterns, Portify’s solution analyses these earnings and spending behaviours to offer a fee-free credit line, build users’ credit history, and prevent overdraft and interest payments.
  4. Wagestream – working with leading employers to enable employees to stream a percentage of their earned wages throughout the month, sparing them from using loans, overdrafts and payday lenders. They can draw down earned wages using the Wagestream app for a flat fee of £1.75, as well as track wages, get impartial financial education in real-time and start a savings pot.

All of these solutions are finalists in the Open Up 2020 Challenge, which we’re running in partnership with the Open Banking Implementation Entity. There are 15 finalists in total which have already received £50,000 in funding in addition to non-financial support to help them further develop their product. Between three and four finalists will go on to be named winners in July 2020, receiving a further £150,000 -200,000 each so they can help even more people to manage their money.

Lubaina Manji, Senior Programme Manager, Nesta Challenges, said: 

“It’s no secret that people in the UK are heavily reliant on forms of credit – whether loans, car finance, or credit cards. But with so many people worried about their level of debt and wanting help to take control of their finances, especially in the current environment, it’s important people are aware of the tools and apps that are available to help them. Through Open Up 2020, Nesta Challenges is supporting innovators bring to life new ideas that have the potential to improve people’s relationship with money.”

Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, commented:

“There are a wealth of innovative products coming soon that use open banking data to help people manage their finances – whether that’s through finding ways to clear debt, better budgeting, or automating savings. The Open Up 2020 Challenge is designed to encourage even more of these ideas and to help millions more people across the UK take control of their financial situation.”

For more information about Open Up 2020, and the full list of finalists, visit

1. According to the FCA’s Financial Lives Survey 2017.