EXCLUSIVE- PFM app MoneyLion today launched an investment tool called MoneyLion Plus, that aims to help the average American save money.
“How do you save money? How do you invest? A lot of people don’t,” Tim Hong, MoneyLion chief marketing officer told Bank Innovation. “And that’s not because of lack of intention, but because it’s just very difficult to do that with the income of an average American. Our focus with MoneyLion Plus is to bring the mechanisms and brokerage tools that are typically targeted to the affluent to the average person. Basically, we want to democratize that investment tool that is only available to super-prime customers.”
Through MoneyLion Plus, users can invest money in a brokerage account for a diversified ETFs portfolio: for example, they can invest with a typical 60-40 split between stocks and bonds.
“With this product we hope to solve the savings crisis,” Hong said. “Two of the major reasons for this crisis are bank fees and the volatility of unexpected expenses. It becomes very hard for a middle class American to save money.”
Indeed, according to data gathered by MoneyLion, Hong explained, 70% of Americans are unable to cover a $1,000 emergency expense with their current savings account.
The minimum investment with MoneyLion Plus is $50, a very reasonable amount compared to other investment apps. The low minimum follows the approach of previous mobile investment services, such as Stash, where the minimum investment amount is a mere $5.
MoneyLion Plus is geared to help users build $2,000 in savings over two years.
“Our approach is conservative given our user base,” Hong said. “We want to get them to save $2,000 over two years. Of course, if they want to save more they are welcome to do so.”
Through the fully managed investment account, MoneyLion Plus will automatically invest a designated amount. There are no management fees associated with the account. The account will be run by robo-advisers.
The feature will be available in the MoneyLion app and website within the coming weeks. Hong declined to disclose the exact date. When it comes to guiding the user on how to deal with unexpected expenses, MoneyLion Plus will give them access to low-interest personal loans.
“We hope to encourage users to take on a personal loan instead of dipping into their savings,” Hong said.
For these personal loans, MoneyLion Plus is not focused on the person’s credit score, but instead will look at an applicant’s employment and ability to pay.
The personal loans have APRs of 5.99% or less.
Additionally, MoneyLion Plus will provide a set of other features, including guided saving tools.
With over 1.5 million consumers, MoneyLion was founded in 2013 and is based San Francisco. The company has actively been announcing new features and products over the past few months. Its mobile apps are available on both Google Play and iOS.