New launches

In this episode of the bonkers.ie podcast Daragh chats with Rebecca Wylie, Product Manager of Financial Services at An Post Money to discuss the recent launch of its new app for current account customers as well as its plans for the future.
 
We also chat to our very own Group CEO and founder of bonkers.ie, David Kerr, about the launch of our new, fully online and paper-free mortgage broker service. So whether you're a first-time buyer or mover looking for the perfect home or a switcher looking to save on your bills, listen in to see how we can help.

Here’s an outline of what was discussed by both Rebecca and David in the podcast.

Tell us a bit about your role at An Post

I’m the product manager for the An Post Money current account. I’ve been in An Post for about 2 and a half years and I work on a small product management team. 

What I really like about my role is that I get to work on a wide range of current account products and I get really involved in product development and product cycle management.

What services does An Post offer now?

An Post has undergone a massive transformation, moving from the world of letters and cash payments to the digital world of e-commerce, parcels and financial services. 

Our range of products has hugely increased. It now encompasses the An Post Money current account and mobile app, Money Mate, perosnal loans, credit cards, FX multi-currency cards, cash, money transfers, An Post mobile and An Post insurance. 

We also now have the Green Hub which offers green loans and a one-stop shop to support home retrofits for better energy efficiency, as well as electric vehicle purchases.

Have parcel volumes changed due to Covid?

Definitely. We’re now handling parcel volumes that were only forecast for 2024 pre-Covid. It’s a massive change in circumstances. We were managing Christmas volumes for most of 2020. 

The postal service went above and beyond for the local community and people during the pandemic. There were initiatives with delivering and collecting mail, newspaper deliveries and just generally checking on people in the community. 

Tell us about the new An Post Money app

The new An Post Money app makes it really easy for customers to manage their money, control their spending and stay on top of their finances. We’ve taken functionality that was previously only available through online banking and we’ve made it available on the An Post Money app. 

With the An Post Money current account, you get everything you’d expect from a current account. This includes a contactless debit card, the ability to pay direct debits and schedule recurring payments. It offers device pay such as Apple, Google and Fitbit pay, and you can temporarily freeze your card in the app if you misplaced it.

Round Up and Jars

There are new features customers can benefit from, such as Round Up. This takes the change from your card transactions and puts it into a nominated jar. 

For example, if you buy a coffee for €2.90, you can round this up to the nearest euro so that the leftover 10 cents goes into the jar. There’s also a multiply feature, so you can multiply that change between up to ten times the amount. These small amounts build up over time.

You can have up to ten Jars. These can help with putting money away for saving, but they can also be used for managing your money. 

You can set up a direct debit to come out of a Jar and scheduled payments. In theory, you get the main current account where you can carry out day-to-day spending, but you can also transfer money into a bills jar, a jar for your next trip away, a jar for saving for Christmas, etc. 

The fact you can make payments directly from Jars makes the feature a bit different to that of competitors offerings.

Does the app offer up to the minute analytics?

At the moment, no but this is something that’s coming later in the year. 

What is An Post Money Mate?

This is a current account for children, aged 7-15. It’s set up through the An Post Money app and is available to both An Post Money current account holders and to those who have current accounts elsewhere. 

The parent applies through the app and the account is controlled by the parent. The child gets access to their Money Mate version of the app straight away and the account is opened instantly. They just have to wait for their shiny, iridescent debit card to arrive in the post.

If you’re a parent and have a current account with another bank, you can download the An Post Money app and have a Money Mate account for your child.

Is it similar to Revolut Junior?

Some of the features are similar to Revolut Junior but the difference is a lot of items that are paid features in the Reolut Junior offering are included in the Money Mate package. 

Is there a top-up limit each month?

There is an annual turnover limit and some monthly limits as well, but pocket money of €50-100 is well within those ranges.

Can parents see where money is being spent?

Absolutely. From an overhead perspective, any of the merchant category codes related to gambling, alcohol or other adult industries would be blocked outright from the start. 

There are also additional features we’ve put in. The parents have complete control over how much the child can spend. For example, you might decide you don’t want your child using an ATM, or you only want them to withdraw a set amount, you can control this in the parent app. 

You can turn off the ability for contactless payments if you don’t want your child mindlessly tapping. Parents are also notified when there’s a transaction carried out. 

What’s the Jobs section of the app?

Parents can set up a Jobs section in the app. For example, you might set up a Job for your child to set the table for dinner every day for a week. You might then give them five euros for doing that. It can encourage them to help more around the house.

At the end of the week, the child can make a note in the app that they did complete the task. The parent can select whether the child actually did or didn’t complete the Job. If the parent signs off on it, the child gets paid on a Sunday.

Is the child’s app the same as the parent’s?

The app is a child’s version of the An Post Money app but we’ve rebranded it to make it more child-friendly. 

Children can see on the app what they could potentially earn if they completed their Jobs, see how much they have available to spend and can access Jars for savings. If they want to withdraw from the Jar, they have to have the parent’s permission.  

If a child receives cash as a birthday present, for example, they can still lodge this in the post office for free into their account. It’s a modern version of the post office savings books.

The freeze card feature is also available through the parent’s app for the children’s card.

What are the fees and charges?

The An Post Money current account has a monthly maintenance fee of €5 and that covers all debit card transactions, contactless transactions, domestic euro transactions, direct debits and any scheduled or recurring payments.

We do have some transaction fees for withdrawing cash at an ATM. This costs 60 cents. Lodgments through a branch or quick lodge cost 50 cents. However, you do get one free cash withdrawal in a post office per week.

Is An Post Money Mate included in that?

We have a dual fee structure for Money Mate. For customers who hold an An Post Money current account, the fee for the child’s account is €2 per month. This is charged to the parent, on top of the €5 per month.  

For customers who don’t have a current account with An Post Money, the fee for Money Mate is €4 per month.

Is An Post Money a worthy alternative to banks? 

With the withdrawal of KBC and Ulster Bank, An Post Money is a strong alternative for customers who may be affected or for anyone just looking to move banks. While they’re exiting the market, we’re actively growing and promoting An Post Money. 

An Post Money is tied to every city, town and village in Ireland and is at the centre of the community, with over 900 post offices nationwide. Our current account has lots of great features and it’s good value.

Is a branch network a key thing for An Post?

The branch network with An Post is one of the strongest selling points for the An Post Money current accounts because we are still in the small towns and villages where other banks have cut back.

An Post has gone on a bit of a journey in co-locating some branches. We’ve moved into some supermarkets and convenience stores, which has helped to increase accessibility to the post office and allows for more parking. 

Having 900 plus post offices means that customers can come into a branch if they need to. You can still lodge cash and cheques, which are things you can’t do with online banks. Cash is still being used and cheques are still being used, years after they were supposed to have ceased. 

With online banks if you have a problem, lose your debit card, need to lodge cash or just need to speak to a person, it can be very difficult. That’s where our ‘human about money’ brand comes in and you can walk into the post office and talk to someone.

Can you get an overdraft with An Post Money?

At the moment An Post Money doesn’t offer overdrafts, but there is potential in the future.

What are the future plans for An Post Money?

We’re currently in negotiation with a potential mortgage partner and we’re looking to offer something that will be very competitive for the mortgage consumer in 2022. 

 

After speaking to Rebecca from An Post Money, we spoke to our own CEO and founder of bonkers.ie, David Kerr, about our new mortgage broker service

Why did you find bonkers.ie?

It was really to scratch my own itch. I was at a life stage where I had to look after my own bills and money was tight. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overpaying on my bills. 

The company was founded in 2010 but I was thinking about it all through 2009. Before the financial crash in 2008, Ireland wasn’t ready for saving on energy bills and consumers weren’t particularly interested. 

Once the crash hit hard, we were being taxed more and the USC was introduced. People were losing their jobs and for those lucky enough to keep their jobs, salaries were often reduced. For a family or any kind of household, the income was probably reduced.

I was working with a company that was doing a similar thing in Great Britain. I started bonkers.ie to create a branded, consumer-facing website with the goal being to help people lower the everyday cost of living. 

We launched first with no money and just three lads in a basement in town - myself, co-founder Simon and a designer. We sat for 6 months and bashed out the first version of bonkers.ie and we had five products - electricity, current accounts, savings accounts, personal loans and credit cards.

Why should someone use a mortgage broker service?

We don’t really call ourselves a broker, even though that’s what we are because we introduce customers to lenders

You’d use a broker to hide the warts and polish the good stuff, but it’s also to answer all the basic questions. You might be buying a house for the first time. The average age is around 36 now but when bonkers.ie started in 2010, 29 was the average first-time buyer age. 

When you want to get a mortgage, it’s all-consuming and you want to know everything. However, you might not know the difference between fixed and variable rate mortgages, and what term length to go for. 

What a company like bonkers.ie can do is answer all of those generic, broad questions for you without necessarily addressing any of the lenders in the marketplace. 

Assessing the mortgage market

Now we have lenders like Finance Ireland and Avant Money who have fixed rates for 30 years. People want to know the advantages and disadvantages of opting for these rates.

There are also other market offers out there, like free legal cover. Some banks will contribute up to €1,500 towards your legal fees. Getting the money to purchase your home is only one part of the puzzle, you need a lot of other things too to get the key. 

Banks also offer cashback offers. Some banks will offer 3% cashback, but you’ll have to keep your mortgage with that bank for five years to get it. They may give you 2% when the mortgage is drawn down and then another 1% after 5 years. 

Typically rates with cashback mortgages are slightly higher, so people want to know should they go for these.

Advice on spending habits

There’s also the point around where you spend your money before applying for a mortgage. People are unsure if they can have a betting account or how much they can spend on gambling. Different banks and lenders have different lending rules. 

Looking at where money is spent can help a bank determine what kind of spender you are and whether you’re cautious. It gives a bank a picture of your spending habits and attitude towards money. We can advise on this.

An independent, impartial helper is what we are. We’ll answer the generic questions and tell you how to become ready. Mortgage readiness is very important because it’s an involved enough process to go to a bank and ask for a large amount of money. No one can see into the future and banks are very cautious about long term lending.

As a mortgage broker, we can tell you who offers exemptions. There are two types - one on the deposit you’ve got and another on the amount of money you can borrow. 

What are the main advantages of using a broker when applying for a mortgage?

There are three main advantages:

  1. A full overview of the market: bonkers.ie will be able to tell you what all the lenders in the marketplace have on offer. You’ll see all the mortgages out there, whereas if you deal with an individual lender, you’ll only see their own offerings.
  2. Convenience: It can be onerous to fill out forms with each bank or lender. With us, there’s only one form.
  3. We’ll help you get ‘mortgage ready’: We’ll tell you if you’re not ‘mortgage ready’ and advise you on what you need to do to become ready.  We can also tell you which bank is most likely to say yes. 

What is the new mortgage service from bonkers.ie?

We’re a fintech. We use technology to make things easier for the consumer. 

The first thing we need is to know who you are, but we don’t want you to fill out any paper forms. Covid is still ongoing and people don’t want to go to offices to physically sign things. All of this can be handled using technology. 

We ask you to identify yourself by downloading an app and taking a selfie. People are used to this, we’ve all done it before. 

We then send you some documents to sign electronically, so that you know who we are and so you know who you’re dealing with. We’re called Bonkers Money Limited and we’re regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. 

After that, we need to determine your income. We send you a salary certificate and your employer fills it out and sends it back to us. This is carried out on an online platform. You get a username and a password. This is the platform we use to guide you through the whole process. 

You then need to tell us about your current account, so you can upload your current account statements from the last six months. Make sure they’re numbered sequentially, no pages are missing, etc. We’ll check this and then move on.

You might have some savings, so you’ll upload a statement for your savings account. You then might have to upload a statement for a car loan you might have.

If you’re applying for a mortgage through us, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home or see us, but we will speak with you.

Why should you choose bonkers.ie as your broker?

Going through the mortgage process is intrusive and involves so much paper. We’ve made it as convenient as possible and everything is all online. It’s quicker than it’s ever been before.

The portal also gives live updates. If you’ve uploaded a savings account statement, you’ll know whether or not we’ve seen it and whether we’ve reviewed it. We’ll leave a note if something is missing. 

There’s a chat function and an email option. When you’re in the portal, you have all the benefits of sitting beside a broker, without actually sitting beside anyone. 

It’s great for seeing where you are in the process. It’s all split into different sections too. There’s a section on you, your savings, your current accounts, your loans, etc. 

Customer service

Sometimes you hear horror stories associated with online services. We’re very much a concierge service if you like because you can always reach us by phone and talk to a human if you want to. If you don’t want to though, you can still get everything done at your own speed.

How much does the service cost?

The mortgage broker service is free. Everything we’ve done over the last 11 years has been a free service. It’s really difficult to do, but we get paid by the supplier or company that you choose for the service we provide them, which is presenting you as a customer. 

We can provide this for free as we try to make everything as efficient as possible with technology.

The only catch is that we can only help customers who are looking to borrow €200,00 or more. 

Who can use the service?

The mortgage broker service can be used by first time buyers, movers and switchers

What else do you need when applying for a mortgage?

You’ll need mortgage protection insurance, which will pay the bank the remaining amount left on the mortgage should you, unfortunately, pass away during the mortgage term. 

We offer the best life insurance and mortgage protection insurance rates in the country. It’s less expensive to purchase mortgage protection from a company like us than directly from your bank, so do shop around.

You’ll also need home insurance or buildings insurance. The bank will help survey the house for this. You can apply for home insurance right here on bonkers.ie.

You’ll also need a solicitor, which we don’t currently help with. Maybe your estate agent can help with this.

Compare banking products on bonkers.ie

You can easily compare a range of different banking products on bonkers.ie. Whether you’re seeking the current account that best suits your needs, a savings account, or looking to start your mortgage journey, we’re here to help! 

Take a look at this blog to learn more about our new mortgage broker service.

Don’t forget you can stay up to date on all the latest banking,personal finance and mortgage news and top saving tips with our blogs and guides pages. 

Get in touch

If you have any questions about what was discussed in today’s podcast, we’d be happy to help! We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.