PayPerks Blog

The latest news from PayPerks
  • Next up - PayPerks to help improve nutrition capabilities

    According to the most recent data reported by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), more than 47 million Americans receive Supplementary Nutrition Assistance (SNAP - the program formerly known as food stamps) to help remedy food scarcity issues in the home. The amount of the benefit varies depending on the number of folks in the household but we’re talking roughly $150/person/month or ~$5 per day. While this stipend is meant to be “supplementary”, the reality is that, for many Americans, this is their whole food budget. Which means that learning how to stretch a food budget to maximize the nutritional value for each dollar is of critical importance.

    I learned many of these facts from Duke Storen who heads up Research, Advocacy, and Partnership Development for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and is one of the leading advocates for solving the food scarcity problem in this country. Duke got to Share our Strength by way of the Food and Nutrition Service and the Department of Agriculture so he’s seen these issues through a number of lenses. (A shout out to Josh Wachs and Michael Andrews for putting the pieces together, over a dog walking session, that they should connect us.)

    During my first meeting with Duke, I gave him a demo on how banks and governments were using PayPerks to drive financial capabilities and how they were using their prepaid card programs as a means to market PayPerks, track cardholder behavior change and ultimately do prize fulfillment. It took him all of 30 seconds to see the implications in the nutrition capability sphere. We spent the next 45 minutes fantasizing about the impact a customized version of PayPerks could have with regards to nutrition capabilities, particularly if we were able to connect it to the cards used to disburse SNAP funds. We envisioned a day when all 47M SNAP recipients would have access to a nutrition-based education through PayPerks and they could earn points for making food purchasing choices that maximize the nutritional value for their dollars with prizes would be loaded back onto their SNAP cards. We left the meeting with a high five and spent the next two-ish years getting the right folks on board to get this off the ground.

    Stay tuned for the next post on this topic, coming this August, officially announcing PayPerks first foray into nutrition capability.

  • A look back and a peek forward for PayPerks

    We started PayPerks, six years ago now, based on the insight that sweepstakes-based rewards resonated with underserved consumers and behaviors could be nudged by associating a chance to win a cash prize with desired behavior-improving actions. And given that education is often a key component of behavior change, we knew an important action to incentivize was simply learning about how to change one’s behavior.

    While our model had many applications, we decided to start with changing financial behaviors as there were positive benefits to improving financial behaviors for both consumers and the financial institutions serving them. We saw that prepaid debit cards were becoming the main financial product utilized by underserved consumers and so we designed the PayPerks user experience to be integrated into the card lifecycle: you would learn about PayPerks when you get your card, your educational curriculum would be keyed off what card you have, you would earn PayPerks points based on how you used your card, and, when you won a prize, it would be loaded back to your card. While v1 of this product wasn’t perfect, it turned out a lot of our hypotheses were true and that this model was a pretty efficient, scalable and measurable way of nudging financial behaviors.

    Fast forward to 2015, PayPerks has been integrated with some of the largest banks and government programs for the purposes of improving the financial capabilities of their most vulnerable constituents. Hundreds of thousands of benefit recipients have signed up for PayPerks and shown measurable improvements in their financial capabilities. More importantly, we are learning a lot as we go. And with each passing month, we get better and more efficient at what we do. With each milestone hit, we get more ambitious about the applications for our model and technology. If PayPerks can effectively nudge financial behaviors, what’s to say it won’t work to nudge other critical life skills?

    Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll talk about the new vertical we’re going to tackle soon.

  • PayPerks Op-Ed in Paybefore - Prepaid and Financial Capability should grow closer together

    Yesterday, Paybefore published an op-ed written by PayPerks CEO, Arlyn Davich, and PayPerks Director of Partner Development & Consumer Impact, Rob Levy:

    Viewpoint: Prepaid and Financial Capability Have Grown Up; Now They Should Grow Closer.

    If you don’t want to click the above link to read the whole article, the key point is summarized below in these two paragraphs:

    For prepaid, the timing couldn’t be more prescient. As the rapid pace of industry growth over the past five years slows down somewhat, program managers and other providers are looking for ways to increase revenue from existing customers, in addition to acquiring new ones. Financial capability can be part of that answer, by driving customers toward behaviors that improve the provider’s bottom line and the consumer’s financial health at the same time.

    Focusing on financial capability means focusing on what actually changes consumer behavior, not just consumer knowledge. So what would it look like for prepaid and financial capability to become a closer pair? According to the foundational research on this topic by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, providers seeking to successfully incorporate the financial capability framework need to ensure the content and tools they develop adhere to four key attributes. They must be: 1) relevant 2) timely, 3) actionable and 4) ongoing.

    Contact Arlyn and Rob at if you’d like to continue the discussion.

  • PayPerks CEO Arlyn Davich to speak on Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis webinar on innovations in financial capability and engagement

    NOTE: Now that the webinar has happened, you can view the presentation or listen to the audio recording of the webinar from this link here.

    Register for what will be an interesting webinar hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis featuring PayPerks CEO Arlyn Davich.

    The webinar, Innovations that Enhance Financial Capability and Engagement, will be held from 2-3:15 PM Central Time on October 2nd. It is free to attend but requires an RSVP here.

    Arlyn has been invited by the Fed to participate along with PayPerks friends and colleagues Joshua Sledge, Innovation Labs Manager at the Center for Financial Services Innovation and Nick Maynard, Senior Innovation Director at the Doorways to Dreams (D2D Fund).

    The discussion will focus on how to translate financial knowledge into financial empowerment and greater access among low- and moderate-income individuals.

    Learn more about how Arlyn can up with the idea, what’s in the PayPerks secret sauce, and some of our recent successes on DirectExpress and other prepaid programs.

    For more information on the event, including information how how to submit questions to the participants, check out the event summary:

  • Discussing how Mobile Money can impact Financial Inclusion

    I spent the day today attending The Money Event in Las Vegas and spoke on a panel with Lynn Eisenhart, Senior Program Officer at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Financial Services for the Poor and Danny Shader, CEO PayNearMe. Our topic was mobile money and financial inclusion.

    My take-away comment is that financial inclusion in the US is not about what type of mobile wallet consumers will use or the technical details of the encryption used to secure the transaction, but whether consumers can use the technology easily and reliably, whether there is a solution that works most of the time (e.g. consumers are not going to spend effort adopting a system that will only work at 10% of the merchants they frequent) and whether the system can be trusted.

    Cash works, as Danny points out, because it meets these criteria. Existing forms of payment with a mag-stripe plastic card (such as a prepaid debit card) work, but are still confusing to many consumers (try paying for gas at a pump, finding in-network ATMs, or understanding the nuances of selecting credit vs. debit at the POS terminal).

    Whatever mobile money solution/ecosystem/apps/etc is/are eventually adopted by the mainstream consumer segment in the US, it will have to be easy to use, have nearly ubiquitous acceptance, and be trusted. I know we will see some elegant solutions, including Apple Pay, which was announced yesterday, to enable mobile payments, but in my opinion we have a while to wait until we see a mobile money solution that drives financial inclusion in the US.