ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/7/16)--When the calendar flipped to Jan. 1 this year, Minnesota credit unions were officially authorized to begin offering prize-linked savings (PLS) accounts to their members.
Through the program, called WINcentive Savings, credit union members can earn entries into monthly, quarterly, and annual cash-prize drawings by putting away a set amount of funds into special savings accounts--in this case $100 of savings per entry.
Even if not picked for the cash prizes, members still win. They will have started solid savings accounts and also likely will have built healthy savings habits.
Fourteen credit unions are already offering the product, which is run by the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) with strong support from the national nonprofit organization Doorway to Dreams (D2D). MnCUN is only the second credit union association in the United States to spearhead its own PLS program.
"Prize-linked savings is an innovative financial product that makes it easier for people to save," said Tim Flacke, executive director of D2D. "By launching WINcentive Savings in Minnesota, credit unions are showing leadership and their commitment to improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the state."
The association and D2D also have partnered with The Pew Charitable Trusts to perform a study on the effectiveness of PLS accounts. Specifically, the research will focus on whether members fund their PLS accounts with existing savings or from new income sources.
In addition to Minnesota, credit unions in New York, Michigan, Rhode Island, Maine, Washington, North Carolina, Nebraska, Maryland, Connecticut and Indiana currently offer PLS programs.