Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good banking through usability

A new banking service satisfies customer needs using cognitive science. Human laziness means saving is easier and less painful if it is automatic and less salient (you don't have to consciously take it out of your paycheck). So this service sets up automated transfers to a separate account from a direct deposit and they set it up as an opt-out default rather than opt in. If you don't specific, it calls the separate account "Emergency Fund." This increases the number and frequency that people save. And it's still your money, so you can do whatever you want with it. It is just about encouragement (like in the book "Nudge").

The “Feed the Pig” concept also changes the emotional part. Instead of giving up immediate gratification by saving instead of spending, you get even more immediate emotional gratification by making it fun/positive to feed the pig.

Another service they offer is to use basic predictive modeling to give customers useful information. Based on the customer’s automatic payments (rent/mortgage) and typical payments (utility bills), it estimates a “Safe to Spend” amount that subtracts upcoming payments from the current balance. So if you don't want to do the math, you can just look at the "Safe to Spend" number and have a good idea how much you have available.