“Loot” – an interesting new student banking proposal

A few months ago I read an interesting article about a new student banking experience for “millennials”. At the time the proposal, called Loot, was a start up seeking funding to try and get the concept off the ground. Without particularly thinking I went and added my name to the waiting list, and recently got a push notification letting me know that I could register! So far I’ve not seen very many reviews of this, and therefore plan to post a few updates of my experiences using this new app!

The process of registering was much less strenuous than that of a high street bank account. You have to scan your id and take a photo to verify your identity, and also enter a few details about yourself. After a couple of minutes you receive a sort code and account number, with a card put in the post for you…. The app offers you the ability to transfer in and out money straight away (theoretically), and also allows you to begin setting “budgets” and “goals”. The budget is a weekly limit on the amount that you can spend using the card, which can be adjusted when needed. Once a budget is set the app shows the amount that “you have left to spend today” (the weekly amount divided by 7). Goals can be created to set monetary targets of how much you want to save. The App lets you name them, assign a target amount and a date you wish to achieve it by. You can then transfer money between that which is on your loot card and that which is being saved. As a current, fiscally stretched, university student I can certainly see the use for all these features, and have been unimpressed with my current bank’s provision of these form of tools.

At the moment I have a few worries regarding the app. Firstly, the way that e-money apps are currently regulated mean that bankruptcy of the firm providing the account could lead to complete loss of any money saved. This is because the money is purely virtual and so the European Financial Compensation Scheme doesn’t cover it.  At least while the app is in start up phase I personally won’t be saving significant amounts of money through it. Secondly, the fee structure of the app seems to be (at least at the moment) questionable. At the moment, on my newly created account, the “Fees and Limits” tab is blank. This could very well be because my account is not completely enabled, I’ve tried transferring a small amount between banks accounts and this has yet to appear in the Loot app. The only clear area of this, from their website, is that there are a maximum of two free cash withdrawals a month. I will update this post below when I know more on this. My final current worry relates to the contactless nature of the Loot prepaid Mastercard. One of the biggest problems I currently have is that contactless transactions do not appear in my internet banking for a few days. This is because authorization is not instantly sought by the vendor for the goods. I feel that using the contactless feature may undermine my ability to budget daily by altering the date of purchases. This is something I will definitely test when my Loot card arrives!

I’m very excited to receive the card and see what I think of it! I’m also particularly interested in how the features of the app will change as it develops, and will be paying close attention to this. I will post again once I’ve suitably tested it to let you know what I think…

Michaelmas Week 5: Five weeks in… as a PPE Fresher

Okay, so in this post I hope to summarize my experiences in freshers and the weeks since. I came to Oxford with worries about elitism and “impostor syndrome”. Although I’ve experienced both of these in my time here so far, I’ve also had a brilliant time!

Freshers week is strange. By the end you’ll be sick of the questions, “What are you studying” and “Where are you from”, for life. You’ll see lots of people around college that you’ve spoken to but simply cannot remember the names of, and will probably get caught out not knowing someone’s name at least once (it happened to me a lot!). What freshers week does do however, is make you realize, that all these people that you may have spent along time worrying about meeting, are (almost always) normal and likeable people!! Everyone tends to be sufficiently unique and interesting that the awkwardness quickly diffuses. It’s quite likely you won’t meet or be friends with those people that you’ll spend the rest of the next 3 years with in freshers so don’t worry too much about this! Just enjoy it and appreciate how this is time in Oxford that you won’t spending worrying about getting an essay or problem sheet in on time!

Academically I personally feel a bit out of place with my course currently! It just seems that all the other PPE students are so so so clever and that I’m not, “impostor syndrome” is apparently very common, the way I think about it is that everyone was selected for different reasons, especially with a degree that has 3 different elements! They may already know more than you in certain topics but throughout your degree you’ll formally learn these things and so on! So far I’ve only had one tutorial that has gone badly, and in that I did get a lot of constructive feedback meaning that I can write a better essay and generally prepare better in the future. Most tutors don’t expect you to arrive perfect, and will support you in improving your knowledge and work, that is after all their job… Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When it comes to my worries about elitism. I think that this is a factor that depends heavily on your college. I am lucky in the fact that the college I am currently at doesn’t have too much of this. However I have come across a small number of students who act and think in a way that I can’t particularly comprehend. One said to me openly that he believed that “there were too many poor people at Oxford”, while another said that Access work goes too far, and that if a student needs access work to support them getting in then they don’t deserve to be here. As someone who has been on the receiving end of numerous Access projects, I could not disagree with both of these statements more. However, as I’ve said these are a very small minority of the student population and I really wouldn’t worry too much about people like this if you’re considering applying!! If anything meeting them for me was more comical than anything else…

That’s all for this post, I’ll try and post again soon, whenever work permits!

Alcohol at University

Okay.. so I’ve just got back to college from meeting a few old school friends in town. Today was matriculation (the ceremony that officially accepts students into the university) and so tonight was the notorious “matricu-lash”, where people drink to celebrate this. I decided to not go out tonight for a couple of reasons, firstly I’m currrently trying to avoid drinking and secondly, my workload is so high that going out would screw up my rhythm and I’d fall really far behind.

Anyway to cut things short I just walked through Oxford City Centre, on a Saturday night around midnight completely sober. What I’ve seen has actually quite upset me. During a 5 minute walk I saw people smashing bottles, multiple people being sick, quite a lot of screaming (at other drunk people but at sober people too) etc. When I got back to college someone had passed out on the lodge floor surrounded in sick and was being cared for by a porter, while an ambulance came.

We seem to live in a society that has built up a reliance on alcohol and drugs to have a good time. Tales from other freshers seem to revolve around clubbing 4-5 times a week, keeping “chunder charts” (of how many time each flat mate has been sick”) and so many other depressingly drug/alcohol dependent ways of attempting to have fun. This is probably just going to turn out to another late night rant but this binge drinking / drug culture seems to be having really negative implications on our society. One thing I saw during freshers week was how heavily binge drinking is normalized and facilitated during freshers.

Basic conclusion to this post, yeah I completely appreciate alcohol helps you have fun and over come awkwardness as a fresher but this sense that alcohol is the only thing that provides fun and that going past your limits regularly with it (and other drugs) is acceptable worries and saddens me.

Michaelmas Week -1

Okay so here I am, going off to start a new chapter in my life tommorrow, starting at Oxford University.  It feels like education up to this point has been directing me to this point, from the start of studying GCSEs, all teachers seem to have talked about is University.

“You should do this to put on your personal statement”

“You should go and look round this university”

“You won’t get into X university if your grades don’t improve”

Now that I am about to start I feel utterly inadequate (although I suspect this is the normal feeling), I am about to start studying one of the most competitive courses and one of the most competitive universities in the world and all I can seem to think is how a combination of lucky events has brought me to this point, and that at some point my lucks going to run out. For those who didn’t know Oxford starts back incredibly late and has 8 week long terms (michaelmas, hilary and trinity).  What this has meant for me is that I’ve watched almost all of my friends travel off around the country to university and begin having brilliant times. Some are about to begin their third week at university…

I just don’t know what to expect, today I tried on sub fusc for the first time. (sub fusc is academic dress, revolves for me around a gown, white bow tie and mortar board.)  There are two ways that I can see the next 3 years going. I will either find that Oxford is elitist and out of touch and really not enjoy myself or I will find a progress place with interesting people from all walks of life. The requirement to wear sub fusc three times a week is starting to make me think that I might find it more of the former than the later.

To add to my current feelings, I was born and have grown up in Oxford all my life. I’ve always seen Oxford as a lovely and inclusive city, I don’t want the next 3 years to taint this. Furthermore I don’t want to become bored of the city, I’ve been to most of the clubs, cafes etc before, so where will I explore?

Well, I’ll try and keep this blog updated with how this goes, perhaps in the hope that it may provide future students in my position a bit of support!