PayPerks Blog

The latest news from PayPerks
  • Meet Ray, a PayPerks user & Direct Express® cardholder

    Direct link to this video:

    This video is the second release in a project we have embarked on to document the impact of the products provided by our partners and the education and motivation provided by PayPerks for those products. In this case, the Direct Express® card, the mobile app for that card, and PayPerks for Direct Express®, helped Ray to fundamentally rethink how he manages his finances after an accident which took away his ability to work, both a professional drummer in a band and as a landscaper with his father.

    To continue exploring the impact of PayPerks, watch our first video with Dawn.

    We will continue to post more videos like this as we speak to more PayPerks users. If you’re a PayPerks user and you have a story you want us to tell, write PayPerks Help and let us know!

  • Dawn, a PayPerks User & Direct Express® cardholder, shares her story on FinHealthMatters Day

    We are very excited to share this post with you today because not only is it Financial Capability Month, but today is also CFSI’s celebration of #FinHealthMatters Day, something we celebrate every day. You can read more about CFSI’s approach to the day here.

    In celebration of the day, we invite you to meet Dawn and witness her incredible story of transformation:

    Direct link to this video:

    This video is the first release in a project PayPerks has embarked on to document the impact of the products provided by our partners and the education and motivation provided by PayPerks for those products. In this case, the Direct Express® card, the mobile app for that card, and PayPerks for Direct Express®, enabled Dawn to completely change her financial situation, going from living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes running out of funds before the next check arrived, to having a significant savings reserve and a much better understanding of how to manage her money and use her card in a convenient way to live a better life.

    Financial Capability to Finacial Health (to overall Health)

    PayPerks exists to create financial capability for underserved consumers. We do this by working with a variety of great partners, often in concert together, to implement solutions that help consumers learn about and understand existing products on the market and help improve those products directly through analytics, learning, and feedback.

    We do not stop though at just learning, which some may call Financial Literacy; instead, we focus on turning that knowledge into action, which we refer to as Financial Capability, and it’s this action which leads to Financial Health.

    This works because the implementation of financial capability skills is powerful, beyond ways most of us initially imagine. We might first think of someone developing a skill to save a few dollars by eliminating unnecessary fees each month through better product usage. This alone is a great outcome, but the more important win is the confidence that comes from skill, because that confidence enables someone to feel empowered to make even more change.

    For example, someone might act on the additional information in PayPerks on budgeting, savings, and other money management tips, to learn skills that lead towards real behavior improvements, such as being able to build a savings reserve which is one of the key elements of Financial Health.

    And the creation of Financial Health in turn fosters even more confidence, a new sense of safety, security and wellbeing, and enables other changes that improve the quality of someone’s overall health and general wellbeing.

    Happy #FinHealthMatters Day, indeed!

    We will continue to post more videos like this as we speak to more PayPerks users. If you’re a PayPerks user and you have a story you want us to tell, write into PayPerks Help and let us know!

  • PayPerks assists with the launch of the Direct Express® DX℠ mobile app

    Since we launched PayPerks® to provide financial education for cardholders in the U.S. Treasury’s Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card program several years ago, nearly 700,000 of those cardholders have registered for PayPerks, accessing the program through either a computer or mobile device. So, when we were invited to collaborate with the U.S. Treasury, Comerica Bank, MasterCard® and Xerox on the strategy and marketing of the new Direct Express® DX℠ mobile app, we were excited to see how PayPerks users would respond.

    It wasn’t too long ago that desktop computers were the primary way underserved users were accessing the Internet. However, as the chart below indicates, the way our users connect with PayPerks has changed dramatically over the past two years, reflecting the dominance of mobile access.

    As explained in this post by the U.S. Treasury’s Walt Henderson and this post by MasterCard’s Andrew Gillen, the Direct Express® program team observed several opportunities to increase cardholder convenience through the DX℠ mobile app.

    Our team was brought in to help in two areas: (1) to integrate cardholder education into the app itself, and (2) to help ensure that the roll-out was as successful as possible, by capitalizing on the insights we have gained over the past several years about these cardholders.

    Here’s a brief recap of how we did that and the outcomes we have seen so far:

    Phase 1, Content development: The first thing we did was create an educational campaign designed to let users know the features and benefits of the app. We felt education would be critical to the success of this effort. Among other things, we knew many Direct Express® cardholders are new to smartphones and might not have much experience with downloading and using apps. Several PayPerks modules were developed covering topics such as how to use the DX℠ mobile app to find in-network ATMs and where and how to download the DX℠ mobile app. Through our incentive model, we were able to drive nearly 200K module completions on the app, thus greatly expanding awareness among the Direct Express® cardholder population.

    Phase 2, Audience Segmentation: Next, we segmented our user base to identify the optimal segments for which to test and learn. We analyzed six data points as proxies for engagement and smartphone utilization so that we could recruit a strong initial cohort of early adopters.

    Phase 3, Targeted outreach: We then customized more than a dozen campaigns to test messaging and design among our target segments. In addition to wanting to maximize open and conversion rates on our email campaigns informing cardholders about the availability of the new DX℠ mobile app, we also wanted to optimize the downloading and onboarding process of the actual app.

    Phase 4, Measure. Learn. Repeat: We paired quantitative measurements of the conversion funnel with qualitative insights from our users to iterate and improve on the sign-up flow. We collected more than 60,000 survey responses—both from those who successfully downloaded the DX℠ mobile app and those who did not—to ensure the DX℠ mobile app was positioned for inclusive growth.

    Phase 5, Promote at scale: Our test campaigns gave us a good indication of what capacity to expect when we were ready to market at scale through both PayPerks and other Direct Express® channels. We worked—and continue to work—closely with the Direct Express® program team through the ramp-up period to ensure a smooth and steady adoption curve and a great user experience once signed up.

    While the DX℠ mobile app has been available for only a few months, hundreds of thousands of cardholders have downloaded it and are giving it rave reviews. In a recent survey of those who had downloaded, it, 60% of comments used the words “Love,” “great,” “perfect,” “excellent,” “awesome,” “cool,” or “fun”. Some examples are below:

    “I love being able to get my balance without having to call.”

    “I like the mobile app because helps me keep up where money is going…”

    “Great app and customer service help.”

    “Glad you finally got an app! Makes my life a lot easier.”

    “Awesome! It’s so very helpful for me. The app has made my life easier!”

    “Awesome app! It was about time too.”

    “Very user friendly! I truly love this app!”

    The PayPerks partnership with the Direct Express® program team has been lauded, since launch, for turning government payments into a teachable moment for cardholders. But what this project demonstrated—to us and the entire Direct Express® program—is how PayPerks’ robust and real-time, two-way dialogue with cardholders can teach card providers about our users and the ‘whys’ behind their behavior, among other things.

    We look forward to putting these insights to good use for the benefit of both cardholders and program administrators as smart phone adoption continues to steadily increase.

  • 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.

  • 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.