Trouble saving? Call Uncle Percy

Social networking website launched to help people achieve savings goals

Social networking is coming to the aid of anyone who has trouble saving if the founders of a new savings website have their way. Called Uncle Percy, the site lets people load images and share their goals with their social networks via a link to Facebook. Sharing the goals with their networks means people will contribute to something they actually want, the company says. The site, an alternative to a traditional savings account, allows users to invite family and friends to make a contribution to a savings goal. There is no interest rate, but there is a higher level of interaction and engagement. A charge of $7.95 is levied when the goal is achieved and the account, which is controlled by the Public Trust, is closed, says company chairman Garth Biggs. "Young people have a lot of difficulty saving money in an unsegmented way," Biggs says. Uncle Percy allows them to separate and focus on their financial goals and to share that with family and friends. The company behind Uncle Percy, founded by former ad man Leon Parore, has had a soft launch among friends but is now ready for prime time. Development began in the middle of last year. Biggs, formerly CEO of Gen-i and CIO at Air New Zealand, says he was approached by some investors and joined the company, in September or October last year, after the site was fully formed. His role is to test and challenge ideas and to provide governance for shareholders, he says. Biggs concedes the name Uncle Percy may have other connotations for some, but in testing that was only evident among older people and people of an English background.

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