A review of Loop, CBA Bank’s latest fintech offering – Part 2

In the first part of the Loop review, we looked at the setup process. In this, we are going to take a test drive of the app.
Once you are on the app, the home screen shows a two-tab menu, one with a quick summary of what you’ve spent, what you have scheduled to pay, and what’s safe to spend and the other tab analysis of the expenditure
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The bell menu at the top right has your transaction notifications.
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Tapping the hamburger menu pulls up 18 tile menus:
Over the course of a week, I used Loop as my primary bank, sending money and making card payments. I linked it to Taxify and made it my primary card.
I am going to focus on the things that stood out for me:
Getting money into Loop
 
Loop’s effectively an account at CBA, and can receive cash like a normal account.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to sell it’s “un-bankness”, CBA may have overdone it, to a point their own staff end up clueless. The team at the Loop Centre I went to had no idea what my account details were and actually tried to convince me that Loop did not have branch codes. (This would make it really hard to send money via the usual banking channels eg RTGS and EFT)
I did find the details ( They came in the welcome email) and transferred 5,000 bob from Equity Bank via bank transfer. This took a just a few minutes to load (speaking more to Equity’s tech, than Loop’s)
Unfortunately, Loop didn’t send me a notification when the cash hit the account, and I didn’t realise it had hit until I took a Taxify ride and the transaction went through
 
Sending money
You can send money to a mobile phone via Loop ( @ KES 33), Pesalink (@KES 44) and Mobile (@KES 69) and to bank via Loop, Pesalink , EFT and RTGS (both at KES60).
One of the best of the features of Loop’s send money service is the fact that it asks you to classify a transaction into what expense/investment category it falls into, and whether it is a regular payment.
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Paying Bills
The app pulls your balance due from the service provider and limits your amount to what you have in the account, preventing “Insufficient Funds” notifications after the transaction is done, which is pretty neat.
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Loop Invest
Loop Invest is essentially a fixed deposit account, offering 7.50% for 3 months, 8.00% for six, 8.50% for nine and 9.00% for 12 months. I assume these are annual rates.  The “Break Option” takes out 0.50% points from each rate.
  
Debit Orders
I liked the debit orders set-up on Loop; it offers the same options as sending money meaning I can making a standing order to be paid via Loop, Pesalink, MPesa, Airtel Money or via regular bank to bank transfers eg EFT.
The range is from KES 10 to KES 1,000,000,000 (One billion), though I am not sure what sort of person CBA is targeting at this stage. If I were doing 1B in standing orders, it would not really be off a mobile app. Then again,  maybe this is what they mean by unbank yourself. 
The app also offers a frequency of payment of weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually, with a notification sent you 3 days before the payment is sent. (Major win), and like all payments off the app, it requires you to classify where the payment falls into the expense/investment categories provided.
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Loop really comes into its own as a personal financial management app. I’ll wager the only truly integrated one in Kenya.
It was able to automatically sort my payments at Java and Urban Eatery into the Dining Category, and the Taxify payments into Transport. Weirdly, it couldn’t classify the payment I made for the Loop Card. The ability to go into your transactions and classify them after the fact is also pretty appealing.
This feature alone, for me, is the killer functionality. At the moment, the only way to get expense classification is doing it manually or using SMS Sync that reads bank transaction alerts off your phone and adds them to another app (we use this for transaction tracking at Abacus).
The budgeting and goal setting tools are also pretty useful in tracking how well you are able to manage your money, and whether you are making good progress towards your financial targets.
Oops…
I was enjoying my experience with Loop, until I tried making a Nairobi Water bill payment of 631, but the app wouldn’t let me enter anything more than 80 bob in the amount field. My “Safe to Spend” was showing KES 1,640 so I reckoned it was a bug, made the payment via another bank, and forgot about it. A couple of hours later, I tried running my card but it was declined for insufficient funds. When I checked my Safe to Spend, it was showing that I had 4X the amount I was trying to pay. Checking my accounts tab also showed I had 1, 600+ bob left in the account.
It turns out that, while the transactions show on the activity side, they do not reflect on the safe to spend, nor on all transactions page  – the two most logical places one would check. It was only when I went to generate a statement that I saw my balance and it clicked that 1,500+ of transactions that day had yet to reflect on the home page.
The account updated overnight, leading me to wonder if they have minions reading the transactions at night and classifying them…all the while judging us and our transactions. :p
In conclusion…
Loop is a fantastic personal finance app, especially for folks that struggle to track their expenses and budgets. The set up is pretty long, but now I am set up, I expect to use it quite a bit as my personal account.
A few suggestions to the  Loop team;
  1. Add my account details in the app (bank & branch codes) so when I am making transfers into it, I don’t have to go back to my emails for the details.
  2. Add the analysis and budgets performance to my monthly statement.
  3. Update the “Safe to Spend” real-time. It’s not really worth being there if it only displays yesterday’s numbers.
  4. Get rid of the first two screens that one has to click thru after launching the app. They don’t serve any purpose and are actually quite annoying once set-up and registration is complete.