Automating Pots - The Technical Details


(Pete Mallam) #1

It’s a common discussion point, automating pots to help us get better control over our accounts. But how will it work? This is where this topic comes in.

What part of pots are to be automated?

I’d expect to see an option in each pot to identify if we would like to automatically top up the pot, and by how much. For instance, if we want to ensure that a pot gets £50 in it as soon as we get paid, we will select the option to automatically top up the pot and see two fields open up. The first is a slider for the amount and the second is a drop down for the regular inbound payment selection.

This will be very useful for preallocating funds via pots. Rather than a day to take the money, do it as funds arrive in the account. This way, our accounts are always correct, not on a certain day after we get paid.

So the next part of automating pots is when the money is used. This is the most often discussed and requested topic.

I ask two questions here, as there are different options from what I see.

Firstly, are you hoping to put all payments in one big pot, or are you happy to have a pot grouping scheme.

Secondly, do you want the option to lock out your preallocation pots. This will mean you can effectively freeze a pot, only allowing funds to be used by the automated process associated with it. So if you have a rent pot, you can freeze it to stop yourself (easily) withdrawing funds from it. Whereas if you have a magazine subscription pot you can leave that open as you don’t lose out dramatically if your payment is delayed.

Linking in pots as outlined earlier, we would be able to manage our Direct Debits when created to pre allocate the payment. This might create a new pot or allow us to select an existing pot.

New Pots
If creating a new pot, we will select an amount we expect it to be - for instance, we might know that our TV license will be £10.80 per month. If the spinner to select the payment amount is in multiples of £5 then we select £15 or £10 against the PreAllocation of the Direct Debit. When the amount is first collected, it is £10.80. When the second amount is collected at £10.80 the pot is automatically updated to expect the payment amounts to be £10.80 and the next pre-allocation is adjusted accordingly. This has the added benefit of when the amount changes, as it sometimes does, we can be notified that the collected amount has been different to previous amounts. Do we want to acknowledge the change (update the pot preallocation), challenge the change (send us more information for us to go back to the DD requestor) or leave it as a one-off change.

Existing Pots
Initially I would expect that a Pooled Pot would be manually updated. So we would not get the option to automatically pre-allocate funds based on each DD and SO. We would need to create the pot to put aide, say, £900 for bills and outgoings. When new payments are allocated to that pot it would make sense if we are notified that the pot currently pre-allocates x amount, either it will or wont cover the additional payment amount.

Grouping Pots
I get the feeling that most people on here would prefer to have one big pot for outgoings, rather than many little pots each linked to a payment. But the latter could be easier to implement than the former. The issue here is that many pots generate noise, so this might open up the option to group these pots.

For instance, we can have the options to display our pots grouped. So we would see “Cash Pot” and “Holiday Fund” and “Bills and Expenses”. The first 2 are actual pots, the last is a group of pots including the Direct Debit to BT, the standing order for paying Steve for that thing, and the Groceries Pot etc. To see those pots in detail, we have to step into that Group.

By being able to group or tag pots and assign rules to the grouping, we can even have more granular control over our pots. For instance, a set of “Important” pots like the core bills (Rent, Council Tax, Electricity) where we can’t dip into them without having to do some extra steps and have warnings etc, and “Trivial” pots where we can dip into them, but are warned x payment will be taken from there on y date and we will need to find more funds or the payment won’t go out.

Overdrafts
Potentially, this could tie in with Overdrafts. An Important pot will automatically be paid, even if we haven’t got the funds in there, but will then incur overdraft fees until its repaid. With an automated function to take the overpayment + regular amount on our next payday. This might be true even if there is money in the account not pre-allocated. Not entirely sure how popular that may be, as we will potentially be charged overdraft even though we have money in the account. The key bit here would be that payments linked to a non-important pot will be refused if the funds aren’t there, but important pots are paid and we are shouted at by the app.

For instance, if you spend £20 from your balance of £49 but your Core Bills are overdrawn by £40 we can be notified that we didn’t really have that money available and will now be charged for being £11 overdrawn despite our account balance reading £29.

This is obviously a lot more advanced, the technical aspects of the more basic Pot Management will be the first step. But once that has been established, these latter ideas should be easier to follow.

So, how would you like to see pot automation work? Did I cover everything you would like to see, or can you think of improvements to this? It’s all academic as we aren’t the one’s doing the programming, but your comments might help the big guns identify how best to proceed.

Pete


Coin Jar specific percentage
#2

This is an interesting point. Would you be able to move overdraft into your standing order/direct debit pot?

Can you move overdraft into pots currently?


(Alex Sherwood) #3

No you can’t.


(Marcello Claussen) #4

First of I would like to say that this is brilliant, and to be honest, if you guys implement this I will forever sing of Monzo’s praise.

Maybe I’m the minority here, but I would prefer to have my bills in multiple grouped pots, all part of the main Pot called Bills.

Would I be able to choose which pot a DD should charge from?


(Pete Mallam) #5

I don’t see you charging from a pot, but selecting the regular inbound payment from which your pot will preallocate funds. So, for instance, if you receive your salary and some sort of child benefit into your Monzo account, you will see two items in the “Source” drop-down box: Your employer and your benefit. If you only wanted to have, say, a Standing Order to pay the nursery come from your child benefits then you select that payment source when creating the pot.

I’m thinking this because you won’t necessarily have just the one inbound payment. I, for instance, have more than one job. So it would make sense to only pre-allocate funds from an inbound payment that you expect to cover it or, if simply pre-allocating payments, maybe have x amount from one of your sources be put into a pot. Handy when you have a 2nd job to help pay for a holiday.

What do you think?


(Pete Mallam) #6

It’s my opinion that it will work a lot better if new pots are created for each bill payment. It’s also a nice opportunity to have the logo for the pot be the logo for the DD destination. But I digress.

I can only guess how pots and automation is currently written for the Cash Jar, but the name of the pot is important so there’s a degree of hooking into the Pot Details. With this in mind, it makes sense to have a 1:1 Pot to Payment ratio so that the rules are more succinct. Obviously, the Cash Jar is a global automation so there is a lot more work involved with having automation on a per-account basis and this would possibly be even harder if the automation also had to work with a 1:Many Pot to Payment relationship.


(Will) #7

This is really the next logical step :+1: I thought of something similar so I’m glad other people are on the same page!

For me setting a pot’s target amount would be really helpful. At the moment I have a rent pot and I put money in it after I get paid every week until I have enough to pay of the rent. But I have to hold all that info myself and do it manually. I’d rather set a pot target, for example: “£92 of £585 by 30th. £493 Outstanding”

I too would like certain payments to come out of certain pots automatically, my phone contract from the bills pot etc and that grouping these would be super helpful!

Cheers x


(Kieran McHugh) #8

You will like what I have in the pipeline :slight_smile:


Making Monzo Better: The Big List
#9

Direct debit pot? :eyes:


(Will) #10

Sounds promising :wink: Pots for me is the major thing, the really powerful (potentially) and most interesting product in Monzo’s arsenal.


(Nicholas Jenkins) #11

As long as I could see the detail of what went out of a pot and when, then one pot for all the regular bills would be brilliant. All Direct debits out of one pot and locked away. Some of my bills such as my mortgage needs to come out of a joint account so as a result I would need to automate money in to multiple pots and so would be great to link pots in this way - joint bills and individual bills are all bills and locked up. If there was spare money around, it would be great if a buffer amount be kept aside then the rest saved or invested via an investment or savings linked pot.

Automating the changes in pot transfers would be helpful so my expected/predicted outgoings becomes a report as opposed to something I need to go and work out


#12

Yeah I think your onto something here. I’ve been pondering for a while, I’d love the ability to have any remaining balance (or even a set amount as the OP mentions) automatically moved into a pot when I get paid.

This would then display in the transaction feed as normal, so we can see its happened.


(Pete Mallam) #13

This is a great way to summarise the best use scenario


(Lewis Derbyshire) #14

Automating pots could help people who struggle to save with this 1p challenge The 1p saving challenge!


#15

I was just thinking about this idea.

I’m pondering about changing my current account fully to Monzo and can see the benifits of having a single pot for my bills.

It should be a single pot where chosen direct debits and standing orders collect there monies. The pot should show all these in a format so you know what has been paid and what is still outstanding. If a payment takes the pot over what was in the pot then it should pull additional funds from the main account, sending a notification of this to the user.

I think this would be great for condensing bills to a format that helps the user become much better at knowing what they have left to spend, with an actual amount. This would save accidentally spending to much money as all your bill payments are safe.


(Pete Mallam) #16

Well, we know that something is coming in the 6-12 month region. It might be one big pot, or many small pots, or both, or something else we haven’t even considered! Very much looking forward to it.


(Kim W) #17

I would 100% definitely prefer one big bills pot, however, if they were technically separate pots and just /looked/ like one big pot in the app I wouldn’t care; what I wouldn’t want is to go to the pots section and see 15 different pots for my 15 different bills. I want to see one “Your £x is set aside here to pay your bills”.

I do like the idea of being able to have a rule of either DO or DON’T pay this specific direct debit, standing order etc even if it results in me going into overdraft. I guess if not a pots feature this could just be something that is a setting for the payment itself. And then all payments from pots, as you suggested, will withdraw from your balance if there is not enough in the pot and they need to be paid. Then you could get a warning, like now, if there is not enough in a pot the day before a payment is due. I guess if you go into the “submenu” where it shows separate pots per bill it could then have ones without enough in that are due before the next expected income in red.

I don’t care at all about making it harder to access my money, that’s not something I’m ever interested in as I just don’t take it out if I need it unless I have no other choice, but I do know some people have requested this sort of feature for savings so it makes sense to add it for pots too as long as it’s a turn on-abble option (I’d prefer a toggle to turn on freeze or whatever it may be called, maybe not freeze as that suggests to me nothing can come out, like freezing your card, as opposed to a choice between two “types” of pot). I’ve seen people suggest a graphic of a piggy bank or similar that you have to tap a few times to “break” it.

The idea of being able to essentially say “When I get paid put X in this pot and Y in this pot” is wonderful. Would automate so much of what I currently do. If there have already been several DD payments for a particular DD when the feature is introduced, ideally I’d like it to be the actual amount, not a rounded estimate. For most people I’d imagine regular DDs don’t change often at all.


#18

One pot to rule them all is the way to go.

It would hinder the experience having dozens of pots with additional sub-menus to click thought. Just a pot where in the DD/Standing Orders sections I can select which ones are linked and deduct from the pot.
Maybe if the ‘Bills’ pot doesn’t have enough money in then it gets toggled back to the main pot, re-enabling once funds are present.

It’s hard to say if a fixed amount or average amount is best for each DD as not all services charge in the same way.

Everyone has bills to pay with the majority being charged each month. It seems like a no brainer and a natural progression within the pots ‘ecosystem’ for bills to be automated in some way.

The futures bright, the futures Monzo


(Pete Mallam) #19

One problem to consider with one pot to rule them all is that payments will be first come first served. You don’t have that level for of granular control that you might have with individual pots.

Say, for instance, you have a VIP (Very Important Payment) due to leave your pot for £200 and a not so important payment for £15 that you have forgotten about or usually goes out on a day after your VIP. The day of payment arrives, the £15 payment goes out first leaving you with, say, £195 in the pot and your VIP gets declined because there wasn’t enough in the pot. You’d have been much happier if it was the other way around, but one big pot makes that difficult.


#20

Fully agree with you, in that there needs to be a priority of importance.

The problem is in the current pot GUI, you need to swipe through pots. A bad implementation of multiple pots is having the user swipe across 5-10 pots, working out which pot is which.

Even if a priority system was implemented the user could loose track of the payment importance. One bill might be important one month but then a few months later another one may become more urgent. The user would then have to micromanage this instance and may be of confusion to some users.

I wouldn’t want to have to think about the priority of one bill over another if they are all due payments.

The simplest way I can think to overcome this priority vs amount is to have just one pot that would automatically add specific amounts, based on ‘linked’ DD and standing orders due to be debited on a monthly basis. That way you know the total expected bills due and what has been paid. When the detected bill service pulls the funds from the account Monzo should feed from that pot, only deducting from the main pot to cover an overspend.

In any scenario, having a bill means potentially a pot could go overdrawn. You would never want a bill to decline if overall in your account you have the funds as it can effect your credit score.