Attempting to address the challenges produced by money and mental health concerns is a difficult undertaking. Martin Lewis’ Money and Mental Health Policy Institute defines the two as a “marriage made in hell,” since their connection may feed off of one another, creating a vicious cycle.
Financial technology start-up Touco won’t be able to fix all of the problems associated with money and mental health, but it does have some suggestions on how to strengthen the link between the two. Bailey Kursar, the company’s founder and CEO, wants to assist individuals in better managing their money with the support of someone they can trust, such as a caregiver.
Kursar is using advances in the field like Open Banking to help people manage their money better. He has worked at some of the UK’s top fintech businesses, including Monzo and Zopa, and has a personal motivation to do something great for individuals who battle mental health. “How can I assist that individual in reaching out and receiving appropriate assistance from those closest to them whom they trust?”
Touco’s app connects to another person’s version of the app, a chosen ‘carer,’ who might be a parent or friend, via Open Banking. It operates similarly to aggregator applications like Yolt and Emma, except that instead of an app viewing your finances, anybody may.
An early version used alerts based on how someone was spending, or not spending in the event of bill avoidance, to send a message to the caregiver, focused on informal assistance. Last year, the team launched a three-month trial study and was blown away by the results.
“We had folks who had been struggling for years with mental health issues that were having a significant influence on the way they thought about money and had accumulated debts.” They used those three months wisely to establish healthier habits, seek financial assistance, and feel a lot less stressed as they completed their to-do list.”
Caregivers now receive transaction updates four times each day. Using a friend to hold you responsible isn’t a new concept, whether it’s for a workout routine or eating healthier. But it’s uncommon in finance, according to Kursar, who believes the closest thing to Touco is probably a joint account, of which she is not a fan.
“Joint accounts are complicated because you’re going into a credit relationship with that individual and the money is equally held, so if your spouse drains the account, you’re out of luck.” But being able to delegate in a more regulated manner, is something we’re working on. That, I believe, will be more relevant to individuals.”
Touco has been working on a new caregiver card for a while now. Let’s say someone is in the hospital and can’t pay their bills, or they’re sick and can’t leave the home to do grocery shopping. The caregiver card is a pre-paid card that allows them to appoint someone to make purchases on their behalf. They can create notifications stating that the money can only be spent on specific items or up to a particular amount.