Chext lets you stay on top of your finances with a Twilio SMS gateway

December 06, 2011
Written by
Meghan Grady
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

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Chext is a mobile app that makes personal financial awareness as easy as sending a text message. Ideal for the on-the-go generation, Chext enables users to share a bank account, keep other account holders updated, and track their spending. Chext uses Twilio as an SMS gateway, so it works on any phone that supports text messaging

We love that Chext encourages financially proactive behavior, so we caught up with co-founders Jeff Bell and Ryan Montgomery to learn how using Twilio as an SMS gateway enabled them to build their app.

What is Chext?

In the age of online banking and debit cards, most of us just “swipe and go” without

 tracking anything. Typically, that’s not because we don’t think tracking is important – it can just be a real pain. So Chext makes tracking your spending as simple as sending a text message and as convenient as reaching for your phone. It also makes sharing an account with a spouse or business partner very easy. Just invite someone to your Chext account and it will ensure that everyone’s mobile devices are always kept in sync.

How did you come up with the idea for Chext?

Chext is the combination of two ideas that came together in one product.  About ten years ago, co-founder Jeff Bell wrote a simple calendar application to keep track of his bills and balances.  It just helped him to get a better handle on his cash flow.  That was great but the calendar needed to be updated later on during the day so he had to collect receipts.

Co-founder Ryan Montgomery and his wife were introduced to Jeff’s calendar a few years ago and began using it.  However, Ryan and his wife quickly realized that what they really needed was a better way to communicate the transactions.  So, rather than collecting receipts and handing them to his wife, Ryan began sending her text messages.  That’s when Ryan began writing Chext as a simple text messaging service to accept text messages, recalculate balances, and text the new balance back to one or more people.

After a few months, Jeff and Ryan realized that the two products were better together and began work on bringing the two ideas into what Chext is today.

How does Chext use Twilio?

Chext makes heavy use of Twilio as our SMS gateway to support all of our users sending and receiving spending. The Twilio SMS gateway accepts text messages from our users and forwards them to our application, which recalculates the balance and texts it back.

What are your future plans for Chext?

The future of Chext is very exciting.  We have brought in an amazing user experience designer who will soon be modifying the look and feel of Chext to make it more inviting and fun. We just rolled out the ability to support multiple accounts so now users can have a personal account, a joint family account, and even a business account. Chext makes sure all the right people stay in sync! By the end of the year, we plan to have implemented some game mechanics into the system to further incentive the change in behavior required by Chext. Beyond that, users can expect to see native mobile applications, goals and budgeting modules, and more value-add features.

Anything else you would like to share about Chext?

We just wrapped up our participation in Momentum Michigan – a West Michigan seed accelerator.  We are live and are currently offering the system for free.  Our next user milestone is 2000 users by October 3rd, so we would appreciate anyone and everyone remotely interested to sign up.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jeff!  Help Chext reach their user milestone and sign up for their app at, like them Facebook, or shoot them a tweet @chextapp