Yolt was launched in the UK in June 2017 and reached over 500,000 users within 18 months of launch. Since then it has expanded from 5 employees to 50 and has also launched in France and Italy. Yolt gives consumers the 'power to be smart with their money' and it believes that its insights 'yolt' consumers into action.
What is Yolt?
Yolt is an app that allows you to track all of your bank accounts (current, savings and credit cards) in one place using open banking. Yolt works in a similar way to Starling Bank and Monzo in that it tracks your spending, however, it is not a bank and so you cannot use it to spend money and it doesn't offer any additional banking services such as overdrafts or loans. Despite not being a bank Yolt has the 'strength and stability of a bank' and it is registered with ING bank N.V.
How does Yolt work?
Yolt tracks your account and spending using open banking, a practice that allows you to share your financial information with third-parties. Open banking was introduced in the UK in January 2018 in order to give consumers control over their financial information. It allows third-party apps such as Yolt to synchronize your financial information, allowing you to manage your accounts safely and securely from one central location. Yolt is now using Open banking and PDS2 (Payment Services Directive 2) and has stopped working with accounts that do not have APIs ready. This means that you may experience difficulty connecting all of your accounts to Yolt.
Is open banking safe?
Open banking uses third-party access which means that your financial login details are not shared, you simply give authority for third-parties to see your financial information. Third-party access is 'read-only' which means that those who you grant access are only authorised to view your information and your login details are never shared with them. Open banking is more secure than a process known as screen-scraping, which allows third-parties to pose as you and 'screen-scrape' your data. With screen-scraping, you are handing over your login details to a third-party which has the potential to expose you to fraud. Due to the potential for fraud, screen scraping is no longer allowed.
How does Yolt use open banking?
Open banking only allows Yolt to access the data you allow it to. In order for Yolt to access all of your financial information such as savings or credit card accounts, you will need to log in to each one separately and grant access. Most companies that use open banking are regulated and so should appear on The Financial Services Register.
See all of your accounts in one place rather than logging in to multiple apps to see your balances across the board.
Track spending with categories
Spending categories allow you to categorise your transactions throughout the month and allow you to see what you are spending your money on. Your spending can be accessed within the app via the 'Top categories' on the dashboard or via the transactions tab.
If a payment shows up in the wrong category you can re-categorise it to another category. Unfortunately, you cannot customise the categories in Yolt, however you can tag your transaction within a category e.g #worktrip or #holiday under the travel category.
Yolt allows you to set budgets within the app to help you achieve savings goals. It doesn't allow you to set an actual saving goal itself but helps you to achieve your desired goal by tracking your progress and notifying if you have overspent. Starling Bank and Monzo, however, allow you to set multiple savings goals, known as spaces or pots, where you can easily move money in and out and keep track of your savings.
Pay friends with Yolt
Yolt pay is currently in the Beta phase with nine high street banks (Barclays, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds, Nationwide, Natwest, RBS, Santander and Ulster Bank) supporting payments via open banking with Yolt.
Yolt pay allows you to:
- Transfer money between accounts
- Split bills with friends and family
- View your payees across all of your setup accounts within Yolt
- Share your account details
Show friends and family how Yolt works by activating stealth mode. Stealth mode turns your money into a different currency and amount so the person you are showing cannot see your personal information.
- An iOS user can activate stealth mode by shaking their iPhone (on the latest version of the app only).
- An Android user activates stealth mode via settings within the Yolt app.
Monthly Payday tracker
Previously Yolt only tracked your spending based on a calendar month, however it now allows you to track your spending based on your payday. This was seen as a welcome update however it only works if you get paid in monthly or 4 week cycles. Those that are paid weekly or fortnightly are still unable to successfully track their payday using Yolt.
Is Yolt safe to use?
Yolt is regulated by the Dutch Financial Authorities as it is a venture of ING bank. It is a licensed third-party provider and is listed on the FCA register. Yolt expresses that 'safeguarding your data is one of our core values' and has the following security measures in place:
- Registered on the ICO Data Protection Register
- Licensed Open Banking third-party provider
- Supervised by the European Central Bank
- As a venture of ING bank, it must meet the same privacy and security standards as a bank
- Yolt does not sell data to third-parties
- Yolt runs the most up-to-date encryption and regularly runs security tests
Yolt requires you to enter your bank account details when you log in with the app, however, you are re-directed to your bank's login page via open banking. This means that your sensitive data isn't stored on its servers.
Yolt uses your mobile phone number to verify your identity and encourages the use of face and fingerprint recognition when you log in. Yolt allows you to easily delete your account if you find the app is not for you. Yolt deletes your data in accordance with GDPR.
How much does Yolt cost?
Yolt is totally free to download and use and on its website Yolt has stated it plans to keep it this way.
How does Yolt make money?
Within the app, users can choose to take advantage of various offers from selected partners such as energy suppliers or investment platforms. Yolt earns money by receiving commission from those selected partners.
Pros and Cons of Yolt
The Pros of using Yolt
- Integrate all accounts with one app
- Set budgets
- Categorise your spending
- Safe and secure
- Free to use
The Cons of using Yolt
- Cannot enter a payday if you don't get paid monthly
- No web app
- Doesn't show immediate real-time transactions
Yolt customer reviews
Yolt has achieved an excellent rating on Trustpilot with a score of 4.2 out of 5.0 from over 200 reviews. Around 62% of customers rated the app as excellent with comments such as 'works flawlessly' and 'one of the best finance apps available'. Only 5% of the users rated Yolt as bad, citing blocked accounts and difficulty logging in. Other users commented that Yolt was a good concept but is 'not quite there yet' in comparison to other apps.
Alternative banking apps
Yolt vs Emma
Emma was launched in 2018 and offers similar features to Yolt with little difference between the two. From using both, Emma feels slightly more user-friendly and personally, I prefer the overall design. Emma also notifies you if you are about to go overdrawn enabling you to quickly move money between accounts to prevent this from happening.
Yolt vs Money Dashboard
Money Dashboard was voted the best personal finance app in 2017 & 2018 and can be used on both web and via a smartphone app. Yolt is only available as a mobile app. The dashboard clearly lets you analyse the categories and breakdown of your spending via a series of graphs.
Within Money Dashboard you are able to see what you have spent so far in the month and compare it to the same time the previous month. Users also have the ability to keep track of their budgets using the active trackers.
Compared to Yolt, Money Dashboard allows you to set saving goals within the app such as budgeting to buy a house or to go on holiday.
Yolt does a good job of combining the features that you would expect of a free budgeting app, however it has a little way to go to compete with other budgeting apps such as Emma and Money Dashboard. Those wanting to do a little more than simply budgeting may want to look at the likes of Monzo and Starling Bank who combine both budgeting and banking in one place.
A frustrating quirk of Yolt is how it deals with credit card debt. If you have a balance on your credit card that is greater than the amount of credit in your current and savings accounts, then your account will be in negative overall. While that may be strictly true, it can be difficult to truly understand where you stand in any given month.
Additionally, I have recently experienced some server issues while trying to update the app, something I have not experienced with any of its competitors.
Overall, Yolt does a good job of simplifying the budgeting process and the fact that it is free (and plans to remain so) is a good thing. Those wanting a slicker experience, savings features or premium features such as the ability to edit categories may be better off looking at Emma or Money Dashboard.
If you want to find out more about finance apps for your smartphone, these articles may be useful:
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