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Handling money during the social distancing protocols

March 27, 2020
coronavirus outbreak

We are going through the first major, global viral outbreak of a century. It’s a development that took everyone by surprise, citizens, businesses and governments alike. 

We made accommodations for everyone at Morfin to work from home. The workflow has not been disrupted and we have a plan in place to streamline the process remotely. We are grateful for everyone’s efforts and for our team using their own resources at home to support the project. 

This outbreak has put a lot of things into perspective, including handling of money. There is an entire vision behind Morfin that is being refined right now and all I can say is we wish our product had been on the market today, to support everyone in this time of crisis. 

The way we touch has changed

Money circulates, swaps hands, purses, kitchen cabinets and bar counters. Many are already worried cash carries germs. Some businesses stopped accepting cash altogether and ask their clients to pay by card. Payments are going digital, as they should. 

We feel this is not enough. Most people in Europe are in isolation at home. For a while now, we have been looking at ways to make money social. Right now, we are taking into consideration that the clients cannot be social themselves and need the platforms to do the work instead.

Creating communities around money

When we drew our plans for Morfin we decided money is supposed to be a social affair. We didn’t consider then that our product could find people quarantined in their homes. 

Taking care of others

My money has been digital for quite a while now, as they are for most of us. We all make online payments and orders on a daily basis. The most vulnerable, the elderly, do not handle the online as well. Our parents and grandparents are fumbling to pay their bills or order their food at home. 

When we created social and family features we didn’t imagine there would be a time when our parents would be tethered inside. Imagine you have to explain to your grandmother over the phone that she has to open the app in her phone – the one in yellow. Yes, check the recurring payment box. It’s…a box that you tap. Scan the QR code on your bill. It’s…in the corner, lots of squares. Have you checked for your glasses in the kitchen? Well, when did you go to the ATM? No, I don’t think you should have taken all your money out right now… 

We pay their bills online and we order their food. We can ask how much they have and we can help them budget over the phone, in long conversations. Morfin is supposed to do this remotely in a single tap. Your parents could agree to share an account with you, and you could set up a system for them to pay their bills online, or send them a request to approve online purchases. We could suggest budgeting for them to look over and we could make sure their account is fueled, even without them asking. 

One of the hardest part of the quarantine is, for many of us, not being able to see our parents and grandparents without putting them at risk. 

Planning for activities 

At the beginning of our project, we thought that we could make finance easier by allowing people to pool money together for everyday activities – splitting a bill at the restaurant, planning for a vacation together, organizing expenses for our kids soccer team with other parents. These everyday activities changed, but our social nature hasn’t. All across the world, there are those who are involved in their community. They buy groceries for their neighbors, pitch in to buy medical supplies, pool money together to shelter the homeless. 

You can see the better nature of people during this outbreak. They organize the best they can, carrying multiple shopping lists at the grocery stores and handling everyone’s money at the same time. This is a different applicability of the same feature – shared planning. Everyone makes a list of their particular needs. Everyone pools the money in a shared account and verifies the expenses that have been made. All in one app, with a few taps. 

We are looking forward to sharing expenses with our friends everytime we plan something fun to do together. In the meantime, our priorities are different. 

Supporting yourself through a crisis 

Let me remind you that you should have two or three month’s worth of savings in your account, just in case the unexpected happens. The unexpected IS happening right now. Almost a third of Europeans have no savings at all, and less than 50% (on average) set money aside at the end of every month (according to an ING study from 2017). For many, saving up is simply not an option. This advice falls flat on many people’s inability to actually make ends meet.

We want people to be able to make fractional investments (meaning they pool whatever money they have together, in order to invest in noteworthy projects). We want them to be able to budget and set goals for themselves, instead of encouraging or pressuring them to spend regardless of their wellbeing. We want to make sure that whatever contracts they make (whether they freelance, loan or lend) are enforced, even when they do not have access to a lawyer or consultant. We want everyone to reach a point in their lives where they can actually have those two or three months worth of savings making money for them. 

Of course the economy is based on money swapping hands, but having more money in the hands of consumers is to everyone’s benefit. Yes, even to the benefit of the one-percenters. With every seminar and every event we participate in, this is the message we try to convey. 

I have a feeling this is ONE message they will be a lot more receptive to in the coming months. 

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