Today, chatbot Plum has launched Fee Fighter, a free tool that utilises Open Banking to alert users on what their bank is charging them in hidden fees.
The Facebook Messenger add-on, in partnership with TrueLayer, processes the description of each bank transaction to understand what type of fee is included, and then allocates it to a specific category. On the occasion that a bank hides the fee inside a transaction rather than listing it as a separate line, Plum’s AI extracts the fee from the description.
The platform has released data, taken from analysis of more than 11,000 current accounts under its management, which reveals that the average UK account holder was charged £152 in overdraft, foreign exchange and transaction fees in 2017.
“Now that Open Banking is a reality, people can see in real time what charges they are being asked to pay by the banks and therefore take control of their money to avoid paying them.”
Plum suggests that the data they’ve uncovered, when calculated to include the 65m active current accounts in the UK, could mean that banks made a total of £9.9bn in charges last year.
According to the platform, 56 per cent of those fees in 2017 came from planned and unplanned overdraft usage, with foreign exchange and late transaction fees accounting for 11 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. However over a quarter of these fees (around 27 per cent), were classed as “other”: this could be monthly account fees, unspecified bank fees or bank subscriptions.
He continued: “Enabling people to take control is why we launched Plum and that’s why we’ve created Fee Fighter which, in less than five minutes, helps people find a better deal and avoid fees when it comes to banking. We want to help people stand-up to their banks and demand a competitive deal.
“The more people that switch, the more that banks will be forced to compete for their business and fight to retain loyal customers. This is just one of the ways that we’re helping people be better off.”