I joined the beta program for the neobank app Unifimoney recently. While it’s clearly a banking app, it’s designed to function like the financial superapps that are popular in China and other Asian countries. So it’ll provide access to a wide variety of investments, including assets that are difficult to purchase at other banks. The features aren’t all available yet, but going by what Unifimoney does offer right now, it’s a fully functional neobank app. This is a pre-launch review, so many things could change before the app officially becomes available.
The Onboarding Process
It was fairly simple to sign up for Unifimoney, thanks to Plaid. The app connects to your account at a big bank and collects the know-your-customer (KYC) data from there. And you can also fund your initial balance with Unifimoney by transferring over the deposit from the bank using an ACH transaction. I transferred $100 over, but after the official launch the minimum transfer will rise to $1000. You can select the accounts at the big bank that the app is allowed to access. The sign-up process was managed through Apple’s beta testing software, so you need an iPhone to sign up right now.
After you sign up, you can set up a six-digit PIN number and log into the Unifimoney app on your phone that way. Like other modern apps, the Unifimoney app uses two-factor authentication. So it’ll send text messages with codes to your phone during sign-up. I was also talking to the founder through LinkedIn direct messages during sign-up, which was helpful. You wouldn’t get that service level from a big bank. But in general, the sign-up process was self explanatory and the UI was easy to understand.
The Payments Experience
I received the Unifimoney debit card in the mail, so I tried that out too. It’s a standard VISA debit card that you can activate by calling a phone number. That process was simple enough. As for the card itself, it’s made out of recycled plastic that was reclaimed from the ocean, so it’s environmentally friendly. And it says that on the card so you can show off that part. The card itself has raised logos that reflect the Unifimoney brand, and it has a distinctive look with its black and green coloring. It reminded me of the Monster Energy brand, and that’s eye-catching.
To try out the card, I took it over to Simone’s coffee shop and ordered a chai latte with it. Because the pandemic is still going on, I used the contactless payments feature to pay for the drink. So I was able to buy the drink without touching the point-of-sale machine at all. My Chase card also has that feature but not all US debit cards do, and it might not be widely known that Unifimoney supports contactless payments.
Investing With Unifimoney
The Unifimoney includes several graphs that show you how your net worth is growing, or at least your net worth that’s deposited with this neobank. That’s a standard feature at stock brokerages but it’s not prominently displayed by most banks. And you can move your money into several separate pools based on whether you plan to spend it now, invest it for the long term, or save toward a specific goal.
You can also allocate cash to a roboadvisor or buy individual stocks with it. The roboadvisor feature is useful because many big banks gate that feature and only let you use it if you have lots of money to invest. As for stock trading, I haven’t tried that yet. It would be interesting if an API was available for robotrading, but that’s a high-end feature that most people won’t need.
Unifimoney also automatically invests $25 per month in a managed account for you. This isn’t a service fee, but it is a regular withdrawal from your account that you’ll want to know about. The neobank sets the risk level for the managed account by asking you a set of questions during the sign-up process. It selected a moderate risk level for me and picked out a portfolio that mostly contained corporate bonds. The highest-risk portfolio contains stocks so it offers higher risks and higher rewards. The stocks and bonds in these roboadvisor portfolios are selected by machine learning software.
The app will also eventually support cryptocurrency and precious metals trading and investments. It’ll be possible to trade several different precious metals using the app, including platinum and palladium as well as gold and silver. And cryptocurrency trading will be available as well. These trading services will be provided by partners that Unifimoney hasn’t announced yet. I should note that trading these assets, or any other alternative assets that become available later, would be much riskier than using the roboadvisor portfolio.
So far, this neobank app is on the right track. Even though it’s in beta right now it already does many of the things you’d expect a banking app to do. And when the other features are added, it will do a lot more. By combining all of these features into a single app, it’ll also be much easier to track gains and losses if you plan to experiment with alternative investments. Unifimoney might not just replace your big bank account, it might replace your stock brokerage and your other financial apps as well.