Wisely Analyzes Customer Spending Patterns in New Mobile App

A year ago, Glyph was a Detroit-based startup with an iPhone app that helped users maximize their credit card rewards. Over the summer, the company relocated to Ann Arbor and, on Dec. 5, pivoted and relaunched as Wisely with a new app in the iPhone store.

“We changed the name and the focus,” says co-founder and CEO Mike Vichich. “Wisely’s core purpose is to help people find great places to eat and shop based on spending patterns and not reviews. The problem we’re trying to solve is mapping the economy and using that data to find out what’s popular.”

People often don’t trust Yelp reviews because they don’t know if the author has an axe to grind or even the same tastes, Vichich says. Instead, Wisely is gathering data from users’ bank accounts to track where they’re spending money to shop and eat, and how often they’re returning to any given store or restaurant. (Wisely users provide bank account information when they sign up for the app.) “People vote for what they like with their money,” Vichich points out.

For those who feel squeamish about handing over bank records so the data can be parsed, Vichich says Wisely anonymizes the data as it aggregates it. No social security number is required, and Vichich says Wisely uses the same encryption protocols that banks do. In fact, Vichich goes so far to say that he thinks Wisely makes users safer by giving them a map that plots all the purchases that have been made within a given time period and accompanying geo-location information.

Wisely also uses an algorithm to suggest where to shop. Say two users have similar spending habits, but one user has visited more places than the other. Wisely can recommend additional stores to for less-traveled shoppers to visit based on payment data. “We’re trying to do the same thing Netflix does when they recommend movies,” Vichich explains. “The goal is to be able to say you spend in a pattern that matches these people, and here are the places these people go that you haven’t. So it’s not just what’s popular—it’s contextualized.”

Wisely’s app also gives users the ability to see which nearby establishments are most popular, based on the amount of money being spent. The list is searchable and can be filtered so that, for instance, the list only includes popular places where the cost of the average check is between $10 and $20. The app also helps users track their spending and set budgets, and stores loyalty card information.

In the future, Vichich plans to add separate Wisely apps for travel and investing that also use spending pattern data to help users figure out which products are best for them. “You are what you buy, and we think we can help consumers do things a lot more wisely, which is why we chose that name,” he says.

Wisely’s app is already ranked in the top 10 in the iPhone store’s finance category. Vichich says the company has picked up “tons and tons” of users, but he declined to provide a specific number.

There are five full-time staffers on the Wisely team along with “an army of University of Michigan students” helping. In fact, access to U-M talent was the primary reason Vichich relocated Wisely from Detroit to Ann Arbor. Thus far, Wisely has raised money mostly from angel investors, and Vichich says he will likely pursue a formal funding round next year.

“Ultimately, our vision is to democratize payment data,” Vichich adds. “Google has proved search data is valuable, and Facebook has proved social data is valuable. We want to prove payment data is valuable in the same way.”

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