Old Mutual takes pride in giving you the power to boss your money through its 22seven offering, a free budgeting and investing app that helps you manage your money better. Rateweb is in the business of reviewing as many financial products as possible to help you choose the right products for yourself. With many people now having multiple financial accounts, most will find it helpful to have one platform that allows you to view all your transactions in one place. 22seven does just that. You can link your bank accounts, investments, loans, and all your credit and store cards to help you see how your money is working for you (or not).
All your financial information in one place, convenience right – but what are the risks?
The saying, “if you are not paying for a product, then you are the product,” has become common in conversations around data privacy. Could this be the case with 22seven? This in-depth review gives you the low-down on whether you should register for a 22seven account.
Signing up is easy. All you need is to enter your email address; create a password and you are ready to go. After signing up, you are asked to link your bank account. Linking your bank account allows 22seven to update your transactions automatically. When linking your bank account, you will be required to enter the login details to your online banking profile. This makes you cringe right- the thought of giving away your online banking login details to a third party – when your bank constantly reminds you not to – more on that later.
If you do not want to link your bank account but wish to continue using 22seven to manage your finances, you can manually add your accounts to the app. The easiest way is to upload your bank statements, and 22seven will automatically add the newly uploaded statement as a new account.
Alternatively, you can add a new account and edit the account details such as the name, category, and value. To stay up to date with your spending, you can manually add new transactions to the accounts that are not linked to 22seven. This feature is also helpful if you want to add other accounts that cannot be linked to 22seven. For example, you can create an account for your cash on hand, or for the stokvel or lending club that you joined. When you owe or lend someone money, you can also create an account to track it together with the rest of your money.
After setting up your account, 22seven automatically aggregates your financial data and gives you a bird’s view of your financial status. In the default accounts view, the app shows your account balance, how much you have left to spend, and your net worth. There is also an expanded view option that shows all the accounts you have added. You can also add filters to show only the categories you are interested in.
What is a budgeting app without a budgeting feature? After aggregating your transactions, 22seven personalises a budget for you based on your spending. Your transactions are automatically allocated to categories that you can edit to your liking. The app uses your average monthly spend in each of your categories to set a budget amount for that month. However, you can also override the default budget amount to set a custom amount.
In the budget view, you will be able to see your budgeted amount for the month, how much you have spent, and how much you still have left to spend. Another useful feature is future budgeting, whereby you plan for upcoming transactions that you may be expecting.
With 22seven, you can receive spending alerts that notify you when you have spent a certain proportion of the budgeted amount on each of your spending categories. You can set push notifications on the Android and iOS versions of the app, and web notifications on the web app. Spending alerts help users not to overspend and control how much they have left to spend to stay within budget.
One aspect that 22seven excels at is giving useful insights into users’ financial habits. 22seven uses its Nudges feature to offer suggestions and insights that encourage good spending behaviour. Users receive helpful suggestions on which negative financial behaviours they can try to limit. The feature also highlights positive behaviour, encouraging you to keep up with good habits. Such insights give you a different perspective on spending and making financial decisions.
The report feature compiles a monthly report that gives an overview of your financial activity during the previous budget month. The report is packed with visualisations and key insights such as the relationship between income and expenditure, the proportion of savings versus income, and ranks your top merchants by spending as well as other key insights.
The recently launched 22seven Business offering is geared towards freelancers and small business owners to offer a free digital businesses management tool that simplifies financial management. With a business profile, you can link your business accounts to view all the financial information of your
business in one dashboard. If you use your personal accounts for business purposes, you can filter out transactions that are not business related.
With 22seven Business, business owners can easily create and send professional quotes and invoices from the 22seven app. The feature simplifies invoice management, as you can link the invoices to the respective client accounts within 22seven.
Additionally, 22seven partnered with Lulalend to offer small businesses cash advances on their invoices. Lulalend is a fintech company that runs an online lending platform where small businesses can apply for funding. If your business qualifies for a loan, you can get funded within 24 hours and repay the advance at a later date.
Security is an important area of contention that should not be overlooked when discussing digital products. As mentioned earlier, you may have to link your bank accounts and other financial accounts through your online banking profile to benefit from the convenience of automatic account updates.
The thought of providing your online banking login details to a third-party website may make some individuals uncomfortable – and with good reason. For security reasons, banks encourage account holders not to share their online banking details with anyone, including third-party websites.
Taking this into account, 22seven built its platform with an emphasis on security and privacy. 22seven uses the services of an international data security and data aggregator company called Yodley to collect and update user data from their banking websites. Yodley collects read-only data, meaning the data cannot be used to transact or make changes to your bank account. Additionally, the data is encrypted and anonymised using high-level security standards that are used by global financial institutions to protect user privacy. Anonymised data ensures no information can be linked to any user’s identity in the event of a data breach.
22seven implements additional security layers in the form of independent security audits that are conducted by external data security companies. 22seven is also insured to cover users in the event of a security breach.
Budgeting is one of the most rewarding financial tools you can use for yourself and your business in the bid to gain financial freedom. There are alternative approaches to budgeting, ranging from the traditional pen and paper budgets to spreadsheets and a host of other budgeting apps such as PocketGuard, Mint, YNAB etc.
Some individuals benefit from the mental process of manually writing out a budget on paper to help them maintain financial discipline throughout their budget month. However, the traditional pen and paper budget does not work for other individuals because it is generally harder to keep track of all your previous budgets. Budgeting apps like 22seven make it easier to track your spending over a long period. Unlike traditional paper-based budgets or spreadsheets, you get spending alerts, nudges, insights, and reports. Your budget lives on the cloud, meaning you can access it anywhere – anytime via the web or on mobile. As a plus, budgeting apps have advanced features to visualise your financial data and other advanced tools to help you make better financial decisions.