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‘Running a regulated bank is extremely expensive and time intensive, we wanted to do something more radical than that in terms of the tech and the business model,’ claims HyperJar’s founder Mat Megens in an exclusive interview

With fintech company HyperJar, the customer can divide their money into virtual Jars, treating each like a mini account. The Jars – which can be shared with any other HyperJar customer – reflect spending habits and goals the customer sets up. These mini account Jars can be used for recurring costs like groceries, fuel, kids’ clothes and bills, or to plan for things like a new bike, Christmas and holidays. Account holders can also engage with merchants featured in the app, who offer exclusive, tailored, rewards to different customer cohorts.

HyperJar’s founder Mat Megens has provided Everly.eu with an exclusive interview.

How is HyperJar different today to when it launched?

Today, HyperJar is a technology and data company built around the concept of intent. When you think of consumers in terms of their financial intent – that is, what they intend to do with their money after they’ve obtained it – we help them to spend better and feel more in control.

So that’s the core premise of HyperJar. We’ve built an app with a ton of world-first, award-winning tech: all our payment innovations are there to help people control their intent.

The reason why we think this is powerful and why it doesn’t exist is that most financial apps are trying to create some kind of instantaneous point-of-sale interaction. No one really thinks about the journey to that transaction.

That intent journey is a very important time where lots of decisions are made – we are giving people a tool to help them make better decisions and spend their money more effectively. And because we also incorporate retail and merchant offers within the app, our customers can really make their money work as hard as possible.  It’s another way that we’re unique versus simple ‘transaction tech’: consumers and merchants meet in a single budgeting and payments app in a win-win relationship.

How did you get the idea for HyperJar and what is your background?

I was an electrical engineer and designed circuit boards, so a totally different industry. However, I had an interest in technology and I made a career switch into banking and that’s what brought me to London. While I was at Morgan Stanley, I worked on a product called Supply Chain Finance and that spurred the original idea. It was about linking two ambitions: giving consumers access to better saving and spending options; and helping large businesses finance their supply chain better, removing the bank for both.

I wanted to marry those two concepts into what I called crowd-sourced working capital, prepaying for services at the shop and earning some kind of return. This was pre-inflation, back when interest rates were 0%. So at the time it was certainly a much more relevant ambition.

That’s what I was concerned about because three years ago, there was no inflation and better savings options made sense. So I believe you kind of transitioned from the savings account to more of a spending and budgeting account. Is that correct?

We still are delivering what we originally set out to do – this ‘save now, buy later’ concept. However, we are about to launch a re-engineered version that’s a huge improvement on the original. It was always in the app, but it’s been a background feature. The idea of incentivising customers to save and plan ahead of spending is still fundamental to our offer.

With inflation, and now interest offered on other accounts, we certainly have to be competitive. I’ll just say ‘watch this space’ for now.

And how do you feel about the transition to your current business plan?

It’s actually benefited us. Inflation was always a risk and was going to happen at some point, especially after the pandemic, with all that money flushing through the system. 

Now it’s so much more challenging for people to manage their money, what we offer has become more valuable to them. What we have built is recession-proof and counter-cyclical. When times are great, we are a fantastic money management and rewards tool. But when times are bad, we’re a must-have for staying in control. It’s what’s really drawn attention to both our app and our mission because while everyone was so focused on financing and BNPL tools, we were this one voice going against the zeitgeist. Focused on the other end of the spectrum – save now, buy later; adding more consideration and planning into the spending journey.  Which means that now we’re years ahead of the competition.

Considering your account for kids, how does this product work for you? Do those accounts eventually become your adult accounts?

It’s been our most successful feature by far and our customers love it. There is great word of mouth so every day we have hundreds of new customers joining because their friends and family rave about it. After less than two years, we’re the most highly rated kids’ pocket money app across the major review sites, so they’re not raving about us just because the cards are free. 

What’s interesting about kids is that we think of our customers in terms of households. This way we create networks of HyperJar customers, which are typically parents, their children and often grandparents. This network shares jars in the app and then might add their own friends and their children.

And, as our kids’ cards are for ages 6-17, we then see those kids move on to adult accounts without missing a beat. Unlike a lot of our competitors who are totally kid-focused and whose customers wouldn’t dream of keeping their cards once they get to their teens.

What is the main reason you have decided to not become a neobank?

Running a regulated bank is extremely expensive, time intensive, and requires significant scale and commitment from a customer to become profitable. And we wanted to do something more radical than that in terms of the tech and the business model.

We prefer to have a low-expense and highly scalable approach. So, for regulated areas, we work with third parties meaning that all our focus is on developing and building our unique features.

That’s where we found a gap. This ability for consumers to connect directly with your retailer while having a visual operating system for their money with a focus on helping the consumer to spend it better and not be reliant on debt.

And have you considered that you would sell your product as software as a service? Was that on your mind at some point?

We’ve been approached by a number of large third parties who are really paying attention to what we’re building. We expect to announce some significant partnerships in 2023 because there are a lot of conversations going on and a lot of interest. And again, what we offer is unique and can instantly add value to an existing legacy business with millions of customers.

What is your view on the current state of Fintech in the UK? Some companies like Klarna have been hit hard last year. What’s HyperJar’s position?

From our perspective, it’s unfortunate that it’s happening but it’s all part of the reason why we built HyperJar. We’re a senior team with a lot of banking and finance experience and could see that what was happening was unsustainable and many business models were precarious as a result. I think there is a healthy correction happening.

Are you looking for some investors at the moment? Do you plan any expansion beyond the UK any time soon?

So far we have benefited from a fantastic group of what I would call ‘friends and family’ investors. It meant we were able to focus on building a serious piece of technology – I believe our tech has won more awards in the last past 18 months than any other fintech startup – with a fundamentally different business model.

It’s been the perfect investor base for us. As we scale to the next level, it’s going to require a bigger investment. So we are looking to raise investments in 2023 and as you also asked, we are looking at what is beyond the UK. The next market’s more likely the United States and Europe. But the way we approach those markets will be quite nuanced. A lot of what we do is about partnering with the right entities in each market. 2023 is going to be a very exciting year for us for growth, both for our B2B and B2C products.

Jan Cerny
Jan is an innovation enthusiast and Fintech news reporter. He specializes in news distribution, social media, and content analysis.

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