We’re delighted to bring you an interview with Jake Fuentes, CEO of Level Money (acquired by Capital One), a personal finance management app that’s reinventing the way we handle our finances. In this Q&A, Jake contemplates the evolution of mobile and shares his vision for the future of mobile messaging.
How is mobile evolving, and what are the implications for the future?
Mobile devices are super computers that are getting more powerful by the minute. Every day, we’re finding more uses for them and discovering more capabilities. This is transforming the world as people turn to mobile apps not only for daily conveniences, but also physical, intellectual and psychological needs. With mobile applications, the possibilities are endless, but not all apps will be needed at every moment. People download and forget apps that could be useful to them because they don’t have the time or patience to consider the value of the app. The problem that we need to solve today is, “How do we unleash the power of mobile apps at the moments when users need them?”
What will serve as the bridge between mobile users and the increasing number of applications available to them?
In the future, I think there will be a whole ecosystem, but today, this is where push notifications come into play. Push is a tool that gets your application in front of the consumer at the right time with the most relevant information. By showing users the value of the app at opportune times, push drives engagement. But it’s not engagement for engagement’s sake. If you can use push to create a positive association in the user’s mind between them and your service, it’s a path toward long term usage of the app and a meaningful relationship with your users.
If balancing checkbooks is an activity of the past, how will mobile change the way we handle our finances?
Mobile finance management is about making it as simple as possible to view and manage your money. In the mobile era, consumers should be able to manage their money only through their mobile devices, without any other touchpoints. First, it means processing and condensing all the user’s relevant financial information and providing it whenever the user needs, whether they are at home or in line at Starbucks. Second, it means monitoring and analyzing all of that information and alerting users at times when they need to make a decision. People don’t wake up and say, “Let me check my finances.” With mobile finance management, they won’t need to. Everything leading up to those key decision moments will be taken care of for them.
How do you see the role of push notifications in the era of mobile finance management?
At Level Money, this is our philosophy for push: it’s not marketing. We don’t want a customer to get a notification that prompts them to engage, but not get a lot of value out of it. Every push has inherent value that helps the consumer. We want push notifications to be an important part of the value proposition of our service. They bring attention to relevant and important information about a person’s finances and set them up for moments of financial decision. Mobile finance management wouldn’t be the same without push because it is built into the very fabric of what’s possible with mobile.
Jake has dedicated his career to reinventing how we think about money. Prior to Level Money, Jake built payments systems for Visa and helped run its Emerging Products group both in San Francisco and in London. A Stanford grad and avid Cardinal fan, he drinks seven cups of coffee a day and can probably beat you at a game of ping pong.