1. The frustration and the idea
The catalyst for Look Who’s Charging was twofold. Stuart Grover (LWC Founder) became increasingly frustrated with trying to reconcile and categorise the often cryptic transactions within the bank feed of his accounting software for a prior business.
At the same time, I inadvertently committed friendly fraud. I disputed a transaction with my bank as I didn’t recognise the merchant from the transaction description and therefore genuinely believed it was a fraud. The transaction later turned out to be legitimate.
Further research quickly led to the realisation that unrecognised transactions are a big issue for consumers; everyone has experienced the problem of looking at their bank statement and not recognising a transaction. Unrecognised transactions are also a very expensive problem for banks. Australian banks alone are spending somewhere in the region of $200m a year dealing with the problem.
2. Early stages of product development
And so, the seed was sown and Look Who’s Charging was born. Stuart and Nicole Grover (LWC Co-Founder) bootstrapped and spent most of 2016 in a co-work space in Varsity Lakes (QLD) building the core technology at the heart of our solution and the first version of an API to connect with this technology.
We often get asked the question as to why nobody has historically managed to solve the problem. The idea is not new but being able to execute on the idea, that’s where we have achieved something that no one else has managed to.
We know big banks who have tried; large software companies who have tried; other Fintechs who have tried. They generally throw a team of people at the problem and take a project-based approach. They may get something with a 50-60% match rate, a dataset that largely focuses on one field (being category) and a dataset that is generally a static point in time view.
Look Who’s Charging utilises the latest in cloud computing power, AI and ML to take a different approach to the problem. An approach that we believe to be a World first. For example;
- We return over 100 different fields on a merchant, fields such as trading name, address, contact details, category, and a company’s logo;
- We have a 97% match rate; and
- We have an automated search engine that works to maintain an accurate view of the 1.2m merchants in Australia and to link these 1.2m merchants back to the 120m different ways that they can appear on a credit or debit card statement.
We performed further market testing by launching a B2C website where consumers could access our data directly in order to check merchant details for transactions that they did not recognise. The results were astonishing and further confirmed our view of the market potential. With zero spend on marketing or SEO, we were quickly receiving over 100,000 visitors every single month, including hundreds of call centre operatives from all four of the big banks!
3. Cornerstone customer
Our core technology and the first version of our API was successfully tested with a large payment scheme and a big four bank during late 2016 and early 2017.
Look Who’s Charging Pty Limited was incorporated in March 2017 and Stuart and Nicole relocated to NSW. Soon afterward, Look Who’s Charging opened up its first office, in a disused dentist’s surgery, in Lake Macquarie and began hiring its first employees.
National Australia Bank (NAB) became our cornerstone customer and began rolling out our technology to its customers in July 2017. NAB had identified the problem of unrecognised transactions as a top consumer pain point and one that was costly for the bank. Look Who’s Charging offered a unique, market-first solution and NAB was able to move quickly to bring this to their customers.
The focus for 2018 and the first half of 2019 was on further product development and onboarding new customers. Key highlights include:
- Roll out of our technology to ANZ, Bankwest, Qudos, CUSA, and CBA;
- Over 20 minor releases to our Search API and four major releases;
- Release of our Money Tracker API which analyses transactions beyond those with card-accepting merchants;
- Opened a second office in Sydney, further expanded the team and joined Microsoft’s ScaleUp program.
5. Joining the Experian Family
Look Who’s Charging officially became part of the Experian Group in August 2019. Experian is one of the World’s leading data information companies and a trusted provider of data to financial institutions around the globe including to a significant number of Australian banks. The partnership with Experian opens up a range of exciting opportunities for our clients, our employees, and everyday consumers, both in Australia and overseas markets.
With Experian’s scale, we have an opportunity to help solve more of the immediate problems faced by Australian consumers and financial institutions.
6. What’s next?
We are extremely excited about the next 12 months. Watch this space for new product releases (to follow soon!) and we hope to further the roll-out of our technology so that it is accessible to all Australians via their digital banking applications.
Co-Founder and General Manager, Look Who’s Charging (an Experian company)