Ally to Alert You of Potential ‘Splurges’

ally_bank_splurge_alert_drew_9_1920x1080Ally Financial is betting that negative reinforcement can have a positive effect on your wallet.

The bank launched a new app this week — still in beta — dubbed “Splurge Alert.” The app asks users to identify stores and areas where they tend to overspend, from coffee shops to malls, and then select “buddies.” Using geolocation technology, the app will then send an alert when a user approaches the splurge zones, in hopes to deter their desire to spend.

According to a survey on Ally’s behalf, 85% of 2,143 respondents admitted to splurging. “Many people believe that large one-time expenses can throw their budgets off track,” the bank said. “But it’s actually the everyday purchases – coffee drinks, smoothies, clothing items – that tend to be a problem area. The intent of this fun and insightful tool is to raise awareness for consumers about spending habits that may be keeping them from attaining their savings goals.”

The app is free to download, and users don’t have to be an Ally customer. As of now, potential users have to sign-up on Ally’s site for a chance to “Be among the first to experience the Ally Splurge Alert,” the bank’s site said.

In the age of smartphones and engagement, financiers are posed with a challenge: how to make your app stand out and appeal to the new generation of users? Tricks like the Splurge Alert may be one way. Indeed, Splurge Alert may be leading indicator of a wave of “micro-features” enabled by the smartphone’s many contextual tools.

We see other banks incorporating extra features. BB&T Corp., for one, launched U by BB&T — a free customizable digital banking platform — last year. The app offers features like P2P money transfer, bill payments, scheduling appointments, as well as setting financial goals and calculating tips based on service types. The bank calls it an online banking “experience,” and allows users to pick which features they’d like to keep.

Check out what other financial innovators are up to in our Coolest Brands in Banking 2016 roundup.