After a quick download and a series of taps on his mobile phone, Jonathan Burke set in motion a few small steps that would eventually put more money in his savings account in two weeks than the entire previous year.
Through the new mobile app called Daily Change, he took on savings challenges — such as drinking tap water instead of bottled water — and picked how much money he would transfer each day from checking to savings if he did the task. The app sent daily reminders, provided kudos messages, and tracked the results after each accomplishment.
“I had never used anything like this before, and I really liked it” said Burke, 33, a lead teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Winter Park, Florida, who was one of the earliest users. “Everyone knows that saving money is a good thing. But this app puts it right in front of you, makes it real, and helps you understand how it works.”
Wells Fargo introduced Daily Change last month for iOS and Android users — making it the company’s first stand-alone savings app in an increasingly popular area of mobile banking. It is the latest in a number of financial education resources for Wells Fargo customers — and the first one to use gamification, said Brett Pitts, head of digital products for Wells Fargo.
“As one of America’s largest banks, we are uniquely positioned and have a responsibility to help our customers build and sustain their financial health,” he said. “Daily Change is an example of our financial health initiative come to life. Helping our customers establish healthy savings habits will lead to better informed and more engaged customers.”
The company’s new savings app is a good example of taking mobile applications to the next level, said Jon Evans, director of digital strategy for the Financial Services Roundtable, a leading industry advocacy and research group. Until now, in the age of mobile applications, financial institutions have largely focused on transactional apps, he said.
“Mobile deposit, bill pay, and ledger tracking are certainly useful tools to the consumer, but how do we bridge the gap between transactional and engaging?” Evans said. “Wells Fargo’s innovative new app will help consumers more efficiently manage their finances, reach their financial goals, and stay engaged along the way.”
Daily Change is designed to make savings easy and fun for customers, said Jonathan Hartsell, one of the leaders of Wells Fargo’s Financial Health program.
“We’re always looking for innovative ways to use digital to help our customers build good financial habits,” he said. “Having an app focused on helping customers build their savings will allow them to take action and see the rewards. The hope is that by completing simple, fun savings challenges, it will become a habit that sets them up for financial success.”
Mobile gamification is expected to be central to the future of personal finance education, especially for millennials, who are accustomed to using their phones for everything. More than 70 percent of millennials, for example, consider it important to their lives to have a mobile banking app, according to a survey by Business Insider Intelligence.
Burke, the Wells Fargo teller, gave Daily Change high marks for being user-friendly, helpful, and informative. In future versions, however, he’d like to see more of a fun factor to it.
“I enjoyed the interactive part of it, but think the gamification could be a little bit better, in terms of humor, adventure, and rewards,” he said. “But I think this is a good start. There’s a lot of landscape you can work with there.”
Users of Daily Change can expect to see some exciting advances in future versions, said Christina Zikeli, a product manager who worked on the app for the digital team. Feedback from users like Burke will help the team design new those features, she said.
“The Daily Change app was initially launched with a base set of core features,” Zikeli said. “Future releases of the app will include additional functionality and enhancements to make the app even more engaging to a wider range of customers. Feedback from users like Jonathan is very important to us.”
Note: Daily Change is available free for download on iTunes or Google Play. Customers must have an existing Wells Fargo Online® account and a checking and savings account, both of which can be opened online.