Every year Finovate Fall, the financial-technology showcase held in New York City, features a number of new and/or improved web-based services and apps intended to help consumers handle their finances, and to help companies handle their consumers.
Many of this year's offerings deal with improving security, so companies can't be hacked or can verify your identity when you make a transaction. On the consumer side, Personal Capital, an investment-management website for consumers, unveiled what it called the lowest-cost 401(k) plan in the market (0.5 percent management fee). A service called Waspit promised to make it easier, among other things, for friends dining out to split the bill and then reimburse each other via mobile phone. Money Desktop, a budget- and spending tracker, presented an improved way to view budget items as "bubbles" of varying sizes. Finovera, another site, allows consumers to store PDFs of the bills they regularly pay online, among other features.
And it seems there's always at least one animated, game-based website marketed to financial institutions seeking to reach and retain their customers who have kids. Play Moolah, a this year's entry, includes candy-colored, cuddly creatures who engage kids in activities that encourage them not only to save, but to do their chores, contribute to charity, and judge whether to spend now or save for later. Kids can deal in real money or a currency called "moops." It's an admirable effort, but in the Age of Angry Birds, I wonder how many kids over eight it's likely to attract.