WalMart has a debit card it wants its customers to use. It also is working to become something of a bank for its customers. One feature of WalMart’s card is designed to motivate people into saving money. Some say it is tricking people into saving. This article is an interesting display of how people react differently to incentives, arguments, and the like.
That’s more or less the goal of the Walmart MoneyCard Vault: to encourage the unexciting habit of saving, especially among the considerable number of low- and middle-income Americans who don’t use traditional bank accounts. The program was launched to a limited number of MoneyCard holders in August, offering 500 prizes a month—one for $1,000, the rest $25 each. In December, the company reported that the number of Vault users had grown more than 130 percent, to more than 100,000, and that the average savings had grown from $413 to $572, a 38 percent increase.
By itself, of course, this does not solve the savings challenge so many Americans struggle with. But it’s remarkable for a couple of reasons.