These iPhone apps know how youll spend and save money — even before you do

  • Smartphones have become mini financial coaches in the pockets of millions of Americans.
  • A new generation of mobile apps, such as Olivia AI, can predict consumer behavior and help them make better financial decisions.
  • Technology is pushing Americans to be more and more hands-off with their money, which could pose risks, some experts say.

When I got my first iPhone about 10 years ago, I didn’t think much of it.

It was just like my old-school flip phone, but more brick-like and better at stretching out the pockets in my jeans.

This was, of course, extremely shortsighted. More than 80% of Americans own smartphones, which are basically portable computers.

With the rise of mobile technology, as well as the availability of more consumer data and better artificial intelligence, they’ve also become mini financial coaches in the pockets of millions of Americans.

Mobile apps are getting more sophisticated, to the point where robots can predict your saving and spending habits and help avert poor choices.

They know how you’ll spend money before you do.

Within the decade, tech may even be able to make most financial choices for consumers — which, while helpful for many people, may lead Americans to get too hands-off with their money, experts said.

“With digital technology, the possibilities expand,” Mauro Guillen, a professor of international management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said about personal finance. “I think we’re just seeing the beginning.”

The tech evolution comes as a large portion of U.S. adults are struggling financially.

Nearly 20% of households spent more than their income within the past year and almost half of Americans lack savings to cover emergency expenses such as medical bills or car repairs, according to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Debt levels among Americans of all ages — especially the elderly — have ballooned. The typical working American has only saved $50,000 for retirement, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

“Being in the middle class isn’t easy these days,” said Cristiano Oliveira, co-founder and CEO of Olivia AI, a new personal-finance mobile app.

Most digital technology that’s cropped up over the last decade has revolved around creating and monitoring budgets, tracking spending and setting up savings plans, said David Albertazzi, research director in the retail banking and payments group at consulting firm Aite Group. (Think apps like Acorns, Stash and Qapital.)

More than two-thirds of Americans now use digital banking, according to Aite Group research.

Robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront, which use algorithms to manage investments for everyday Americans, have also become popular.


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