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Treasury Notes

 Mobile Technology Empowers Financial Consumers

By: Sophie Raseman and James Gatz
10/4/2012

The top finalists in Treasury’s MyMoneyAppUp App Design Challenge were in Washington, DC, last week to make presentations of their app designs to a panel of expert judges.The winners were announced at the conclusion of an awards event that brought together the eight finalists with senior Treasury officials, the judges, sponsors and the Challenge partners – the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) and the Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D).

Earlier this year, Treasury and our partners called on Americans to participate in the nationwide MyMoneyAppUp Challenge by submitting theirbest mobile app ideas and designs to help consumers make smart financial choices, access high quality financial products and services, and ultimately control and shape their financial futures.

At the event, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin said that consumers need products and applications that take advantage of these technologies to help make smart financial choices. Wolin also stressed that entrepreneurs, financial institutions, and other innovators are critical in shaping the financial sector of the future, noting that our efforts are focused on ways to catalyze private sector innovations. Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Cyrus Amir-Mokri discussed one such engagement – Office of Consumer Policy’s recent launch of the Finance Data Directory, which provides a one-stop shop of finance-related data published by multiple federal agencies.

Participants and attendees also heard how smartphone technology is becoming increasingly accessible to all Americans:Over 88-percent of adults in the U.S. own cell phones, and more than half of these (45-percent of adults) own smartphones.Each of the winning app design submissions sought to leverage mobile technology in a new and exciting way in order to allow consumers to make convenient financial decisions using up-to-the-minute information.

Some of the individuals and teams recognized on Friday proposed ideas to make it easier to manage student loans, save for a car, connect low-income households with resources in their communities, track and control impulse spending, and calculate the full cost of purchases made on credit cards.These ideas are just a snapshot of the over 400ideasanddesigns challenge participants contributed for ways that mobile technology and data can be harnessed to empower financial consumers.

Here are video clips of the top three finalists describing the vision for their app designs:

Grand Prize - Centz: Nicole Kendrot, Hoboken, NJ

 

Centz  helps to make student loans easy and simple to manage.Among other features, the app allows users to:link information about all of their student loans in one place; create a payoff plan that syncs with their budget; suggest ways the user can reduce their payment period and total interest paid by making extra payments; learn about managing student loans; and test their knowledge about student loans and personal finance.

First Runner-Up - My Next Car: Richard Trask, Landenberg, PA; Jason Mastriani, Newark, DE


My Next Carhelps people save money in advance of their next car purchase, thereby avoiding car loan interest payments. It is designed specifically for first-time automobile purchasers and to encourage people who have paid-off their current car to continue making “car payments” into a savings account. The app includes such features as:uploading a photo of the desired car to set a goal; shopping guides and tools; a monthly “e-bill” reminder to save for a new car; and a running total of “interest saved” by saving for the purchase rather than borrowing.

Second Runner-Up - MOOLAH: Pamela Chan and Eric Tyler, Washington, DC

 

MOOLAH is a design for a financial decision-making tool that would assist low-income households to achieve their goals. The app would enable users to assess their financial situation, create a budget with connections to public benefits, and recommend related social services and financial products. It would be a combination of personal financial management software and a single-stop public benefits and community services referral portal.

To watch a video of all the presentations and awards ceremony last Friday, visithere.

Sophie Raseman is the Director of Smart Disclosure and James Gatz is Senior Policy and Program Advisor in the Office of Consumer Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.​

Posted in:  Consumer Policy
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