Moneyfarm, the U.K.-headquartered “digital wealth manager,” has acquired the technology behind personal finance chatbot Ernest. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, though I understand that, along with the tech, this is an acqui-hire of sorts, seeing London-based Ernest’s CTO Lorenzo Sicilia join Moneyfarm to oversee technology integration.
Founded in 2015 by Niall Bellabarba, Cristoforo Mione and Sicilia, Ernest was developing a personal finance manager powered by artificial intelligence and designed to run on top of Facebook Messenger. After connecting to your bank accounts, the chatbot used natural language processing to answer questions about your financial well-being and transactions, but also to give you proactive notifications to help you manage your money better. In this way it played in the same space as a number of other fintech chatbots, such as LocalGlobe-backed Cleo, Plum and Chip. However, in comparison to competitors, Ernest had raised a very modest amount of funding: just £165,000 in a pre-seed round, whilst a Crowdcube equity-funding campaign was unsuccessful earlier this year.