[App Friday] Neobanking Fi app’s smart offering, modern UI/UX is a hit but leaves room for more
As a self-proclaimed financially cautious millennial currently struggling with NFTs and wondering if it’s too late to jump on the crypto bandwagon after investing in stocks and bonds, have a smart app for banking needs is a very basic request for this writer – as with most other people his age.
With Web3 knocking on the door, there is a need for digital banking to evolve beyond simply enabling digital transactions and helping open term deposits.
The current crop of digital banking apps from some of India’s biggest banks often prove clunky and glitchy. the least we can say, and fall considerably short when it comes to UI/UX. And in a world where low-code/no-code platforms help create apps that are intuitive, personalized, and user-friendly, the mere idea that apps so far removed from what consumers deserve and need exist is an abomination.
Neobanking, thankfully, nails this problem on its head, and one such neobanking app is Fi (via), created by Sujith Narayanan and Sumit Gwalani, the masterminds of Google Pay.
build on federal bank banking infrastructure, the Fi app provides neo-banking services and is particularly designed to meet the needs of working millennials. It cuts through the jargon and positions itself as a simple to use, user-centric banking app. The app is available on both the Google Play Store – where it has over a million downloads – and the Apple App Store.
As with most neobanks, onboarding is completely digital and paperless, and one can create an account with Federal Bank via Fi in minutes, thanks to KYC enabled by Aadhar.
A definitive cut above the rest
What immediately stands out when you start using Fi is the interface design. Inspired by the millennial aesthetic popularized by the likes of Instagram, the the interface is modern, clean and the flow is very smooth, which sometimes makes you wonder if you’re really using a banking app.
Once you’re up and running, the home screen can feel a bit intimidating as it has a number of options, but everything the app has to offer is right there on this nifty little page.
Fi, like any other bank, lets you make payments online through UPI, offers a physical and online debit card linked to your savings account with Federal Bank, and lets you open fixed deposits. But two important features really set it apart:
1. It lets you customize the way you save your money in a fixed deposit by allowing you to put in place “rules” that govern your term savings. So every time you pay for a Swiggy or Amazon order through Fi, or every time Virat Kohli hits a sixer, you can have the app deduct 100 rupees from your savings balance and place it in a fixed deposit. Essentially, even if you’re spending money, you’re saving money, something only standalone apps currently offer.
2. Fi drastically changes the way you look at your spent. This is a remarkable feature because very few banks allow you to access and understand your savings like Fi does – and most smart expense tracking apps that declutter spending like Fi does today are third party and not made in India.
On the home page of the app, there is a black search bar for queries. This feature allows you to enter any query regarding your expenses – like “how much did I spend on Swiggy in December 2020” – and the app will extract the information and present it in a very conversational way.
You can use the search bar for just about anything – to recall your UPI ID, check how much you’ve spent on platforms like Amazon, Swiggy, or Dunzo in a given month or week; search for transactions greater or less than a certain value (e.g. higher debits or credits 1,000 rupees who can help track reimbursements); or how much you have saved in a given month, among others.
To generate smart expense reports, Fi asks you to plug in your Gmail account where you receive digital receipts for your online purchases, and leverages the data from those receipts to build a comprehensive spend report, unlocking insights and patterns into your spending habits.
Fi also gives you rewards in the form of fi-coins for some activities such as paying five times for online shopping, saving more than Rs 1,000 in a month and other similar milestones. These Fi-coins are redeemable in the app market for gourmet coffees, coupons, and free subscriptions, among other things – a unique feature that makes using the app even more rewarding.
There is no doubt that Fi beats standard bush league banking apps by a mile and a half, and then some. Its expense and spare parts investment features are great examples of what a powerful banking app that infuses AI/ML and automation into its processes can do – and legacy banking apps absolutely must. remove a page from their playbook.
The app interface ticks all the boxes in terms of ease of use and user experience. The absence of glitches and random app crashes during financial transactions is a welcome change.
Where the app fails is in terms of what it allows users to do. The app is still pretty basic in operations – expenses, savings tracking and investment.
If Fi could integrate more financial capabilities such as investing in stocks, mutual funds, and other market instruments, and automate bill and insurance payments through integration with a Bharat Bill Pay while maintaining the same clean user interface, it could add a lot of value to its already superior offering. However, it’s worth noting that Fi is still a relatively new player in the market – its beta version launched in 2019 and the app was invite-only until 2020.
Overall, Fi is a big hit if you want basic banking capabilities, with an added layer of automated savings and data-driven insights.