Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

December 22, 2014

Catalyzing Savings

By David Reiss

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced a Project Catalyst  Pilot to Promote Regular Saving Behavior Among Prepaid Card Users.The pilot involves an American Express product, a prepaid card with a saving feature.

The CFPB’s research study associated with this pilot will explore two major research questions:
1.  Can certain strategies encourage or support regular consumer saving behavior?
2.  Is saving behavior associated with better outcomes for consumers, particularly for
     low-income and underserved consumers?
Within these broad questions, the research goals for this project are to:

>  Gain insight into consumer saving behavior and identify practices that promote saving behavior among prepaid card users

>  Evaluate the impact of saving on consumer wellbeing among prepaid card users (2)

I have been critical of some of the CFPB’s financial literacy initiatives, but this seems like a good one. What is important about this pilot study is that it is not just evaluating whether consumers respond to the product in the expected way — save more, for instance — but whether it has longer-term and more significant effects. Does it help consumers develop saving habits in other contexts? Do those saving habits lead to better outcomes in housing and consumer credit contexts? These are really important questions. If the pilot study helps to answer them, it will be of great value.

| Permalink