Plum raises $10M for its ‘smart’ money management app

Plum, the London and Athens-based fintech that offers a “smart” money management app to help you improve your “financial resilience,” has raised a further $10 million in funding as it gears up for European expansion.

The new round is led by Japan’s Global Brain and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which has participated in previous Plum funding rounds.

In addition, the company has received further funding from early backer VentureFriends, matched by the U.K. taxpayer via the U.K. government’s Future Fund scheme. Plum has raised $19.3 million in total since being founded by Victor Trokoudes (an early TransferWise employee) and Alex Michael in 2016.

Launched in the U.K. the following year, Plum is one of a number of fintech startups that is vying to become a user’s financial hub or control centre, in a way that goes far beyond the first generation of personal finance manager apps and bank account aggregators.

You link the app to your bank account and gain access to a range of functionality, including savings, investments and analysis of your utility bills to help you make better purchasing decisions. Like similar apps, Plum’s “artificial intelligence” also deems what you can afford to save by analysing your bank transactions. It then puts money away each month in the form of round-ups and/or regular savings.

You can open an ISA investment account and invest based on themes, such as only in “ethical companies” or technology. Another related feature is “Splitter,” which, as the name suggests, lets you split your automatic savings between Plum savings pots and investments, selecting the percentage amounts to go into each pot, from 0-100%.

In a call with Trokoudes, he talked me through a few recent Plum updates that he says bring it much closer to fulfilling its financial control centre mission and being a candidate to replace your individual banking apps.

Crucially, you can now link all of your accounts to Plum, whereas previously Plum only let you access a single linked bank account. This gives you “full visibility” of your saving, spending and investments all in a single app.

On the roadmap is also the ability to make payments via Open Banking — and Trokoudes doesn’t rule out a Plum card in the future as a complementary feature with additional benefits, not a core offering, unlike numerous competitors.

More immediately, Plum is launching interest for savers who use Plum to set money aside but don’t want to invest any or all of it. Paid users are being offered an interest rate of 0.6% for instant access savings and 0.75% for 95 days’ notice. Plum users on its free tier can earn 0.35% interest.

Trokoudes explained that there’s also the option to split a percentage of the money put aside automatically, allocating deposits between the new interest-bearing account and Plum-powered investments.

Meanwhile, armed with fresh capital, Plum plans to launch in Spain and France by the end of 2020. The company claims 1 million registered users in the U.K., and now employs more than 60 people split across London, U.K. and Athens, Greece. Trokoudes tells me it will scale up further to 80 employees by the end of 2020 and is aiming for 5 million users across Europe by the end of 2021.

Adds Naoki Kamimaeda, partner and Europe office representative at Global Brain Corporation: “More users have started using fintech apps and personal financial management apps across the globe, to be more efficient and be better off. Among these fintech apps, Plum has a very unique position and very bold ambition to be a partner of individuals to save more money and manage their financial life in an easier and more effective manner.”