August 8, 2022

As the processing of natural language, a part of artificial intelligence, is refined, some of these apps create a relationship with their users. Charlie, an app focused on reducing debt, is a chatbot-based penguin that acts as a supportive friend.

“Charlie celebrates your progress, no matter how small or large,” said Ilian Georgiev, Charlie’s co-founder and CEO. “One thing we’ve heard over and over again is that people want an environment without judgment.”

If you want something that is actively helping to cut costs, some companies offer services that are looking for ways to cut your payments or cut pesky fees. Trim is one of the more popular tools – a rare website-based, not an app – tool that, among other things, identifies recurring charges like subscriptions to make sure you keep wanting them. It can also negotiate with your internet, cable, and telephone company to lower your payments.

Cushion scans users’ downloaded credit card and bank statements (how often depends on the amount of subscription you’re paying for) and looks for overdrafts and additional fees, said Paul Kesserwani, the company’s founder and chief executive officer.

Cushion then negotiates with the financial institutions either via the secure bank portal (if the customer allows this), via the online chat on the bank’s website or even via conventional emails if necessary.

“The terms of use for banks and credit cards are so complex that it is often easy for people to charge fees,” said Kesserwani.

It took four years to build the dataset and technology stack to figure out exactly what bank charges were, what to negotiate, how to approach each negotiation, and then to automatically communicate with the bank on behalf of the consumer.