AI-driven personal banking app Douugh raises funds for 2019 launch

CONSUMER fintech application Douugh, is raising up to $5 million in working capital on the market platform Equitise to secure its US and Australian launches in 2019.

Douugh promotes itself as being ‘on a mission to democratise banking globally’ and is building what it calls a ‘smart’ bank account for consumers, leveraging open banking.

A key ingredient of the Douugh offering is its artificial intelligence-augmented ‘personal financial assistant’ smartphone and PC app named Sophie. 

Douugh’s smart banking app will offer a Mastercard debit card and full suite of everyday mobile banking functionality, which operates with Australian Government banking system-wide guarantee on deposits. Douugh is set up to offer multiple enhanced and unique features that focus on helping users pay off debt, spend less, save and build wealth.

The Sophie AI service offers what Douugh calls “real time insights and notifications, learning how you spend money and understanding your goals to help you get ahead”.

Currently in private beta testing mode in the US and having just announced its global tie up with Mastercard, Douugh is now gearing up for rapid growth, according to founder and CEO Andy Taylor. He said Douugh would be launching first in the US early next year, with Australia set to follow later in the year.

Mr Taylor said Douugh is now opening up investment to sophisticated investors “to get in early and own a piece of the company to allow it to fund its US launch”.

Mr Taylor said Douugh had a clear initial focus on the global millennial market – and the ‘sweet spot’ of the millennial demographic for early adoption of the Douugh offering are “the HENRY (high earning not rich yet) segment”.

“HENRYs sit at the top 20 percent of US households based on income which starts at around US$100,000,” Mr Taylor said. “With nearly 125 million American households in total, the affluent segment numbers just under 45 million households.

“In most any spending category, the affluent top 20 percent account for about 40 percent of total consumer spending,” he said.

“This segment is ready to plan for their future and start accumulating wealth. This is where Douugh can educate and automate their finances and alleviate the stress involved, helping them live financially healthy by still enjoying the now while planning for their future,” he said.

“We believe the future of banking is about platform, data and identity. Our ultimate goal is to become a platform business, offering a financial control centre where people’s finances are managed on autopilot.

“Short-term, we will expand our AI capabilities and offering into wealth management and credit. Long-term, we will look to foster an ecosystem of partners within our own marketplace in order to allow customers to leverage their financial data and save money – across financial services, insurance, utilities and retail,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor pointed out that Douugh was actually a technology company, with no plans at this stage to become a bank. He said Douugh would not be taking on the business model, risks and regulatory capital requirements needed to operate as a bank.

Instead, Douugh is developing its own proprietary technology stack, leveraging the banking licence of existing banks to scale up a customer base in key international markets, operating as an OTT (Over-The-Top) application.

“Technology and the pioneering of a new, platform based business model, will be the key differentiators in winning customers off the major banks, and it will be the true fintechs with global scale that will ultimately be best placed to capture the market share in the long run,” Mr Taylor said.

Co-founder of Equitise, Chris Gilbert said he was “stoked” to have such an innovative fintech join the Equitise platform.

“As the fintech community continues to mature in Australia, it’s great to see Douugh roll out its ambitious international plans to scale and further develop a unique product offering, Mr Gilbert said.

“Equitise is pleased to be able to assist Douugh in its upcoming launch into the US market with capital secured from Equitise.”


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