WASHINGTON (12/16/14)--A pilot project just launched by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) intends to analyze saving behavior among low and moderate income prepaid debit and credit card users. The research will focus on those populations whom the bureau says often do not have access to traditional savings accounts and tend to face challenges when it comes to building regular saving habits.
"This project can help us better understand how to promote saving among consumers, especially those who may be low-income and economically vulnerable," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement announcing the project.
The study will focus on the consumers who often rely on a single checking or prepaid account for both day-to-day expenses and savings. American Express has agreed to share insights with the bureau during its own trial program encouraging saving among prepaid card users. That program will use a product feature that allows prepaid card users to set money aside in a savings "wallet" that is separate from regular day-to-day transaction funds.
According to the bureau, the information from American Express will be de-identified, and precautions will be taken to ensure individual consumers cannot be identified.
"Using the insights provided by American Express, the CFPB is going to study what strategies may be effective at encouraging and making it easier for prepaid card users to develop regular saving habits," wrote Dan Quan, senior assistant to the director at the CFPB in a blog post. "We will also study the impact and potential benefits of saving on consumer financial health. Through this work, we hope to gain a better understanding of consumer saving behavior and the effectiveness of a savings feature on prepaid accounts."
The CFPB's project will be run under Project Catalyst, a bureau initiative designed to support innovation in creating consumer-friendly financial products and services.