College students are frustrated with managing and saving their money because they lack access to financial literacy tools that prepare them for their future. It's not because these tools don't exist; it is simply that these tools target individuals further along in their financial journey. This leaves college students under-served.
If you are a college student who is struggling to manage your finances, know that you are not alone!
What is Malachi?
Malachi is an inclusive personal finance mobile app by college students, for college students. Our application helps users manage their money, save their money, and build foundations in financial literacy. This is accomplished through four main features:
Savings plans allow users to save for large purchases over long periods of time. It helps users choose the correct amount they should be saving each month by leveraging their financial information and previous transaction data.
We want users to create groups with their peers to save together for group trips, concerts, or even parties!
Users can set personalized budgets for their spending categories and receive notifications when they arrive somewhere that may impact their budget.
Imagine you are arriving at Publix for your casual sweet cravings, and Malachi alerts you of your remaining grocery budget for the month!
Users can interact with learning modules that teach financial literacy concepts in an easy-to-understand format utilizing examples from their finances in a digestible video format.
Users can link their bank account with Plaid, which will give us access to where our user is spending their precious money. With this data, we can directly inform the user about their biggest financial pain points within our learning module videos.
For completing any of the features listed above or shopping at an affiliated retailer, users can earn points which they can redeem for gift cards in the app. This creates a positive feedback loop that encourages sound financial decisions and the development of financial literacy. To promote sustainability, Malachi gives extra rewards when users shop at eco-friendly merchants!
Make money when you save, spend, and learn about money!
Since Malachi's goal is inclusion, we decided to use React Native in order to provide cross-platform support to multiple cellphones and Operating Systems. Currently, we are using Expo and Expo Go to test and debug the application on our own devices. In order to receive user’s transactions and provide insights into their pain points, we are integrating with Plaid, which is a trusted platform to link bank accounts used by Venmo & PayPal. To receive rewards in the app, we will be utilizing Kard as our network of affiliate merchants. The API for our app will be hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, and we will use Firestore as our NoSQL database.
Challenges we ran into
Developing an application that works on multiple platforms is very challenging since you have to deal with many minor issues that appear across different cellphones. In addition to that, it's hard to implement services like Plaid and Kard in a prototype because they integrate with bigger projects and companies that are known.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of developing a successful prototype in React Native that people can start testing and interacting with it. Our team is very happy to have the opportunity to build an application that can increase the inclusion and accessibility of college students to the finance world.
What we learned
We learned that it's essential to persevere, brainstorm, and allocate time to all the features of our application. As we continue developing Malachi, we want to learn how college students interact with it and how we can leverage that information to make Malachi even better.
What's next for Malachi
We want to continue developing Malachi to guide college students on their financial journeys. Our team is very enthusiastic about our prototype, and we want to launch the app to the public so people can start learning from it. We believe it's possible to start launching Malachi at universities and colleges across the nation, such as UCF (Go Knights)!