According to a survey done earlier this year by a national bank, nearly 1 in 4 Americans don't put any money into a savings account from their paychecks, while almost half of the survey respondents said they only have access to enough money to cover general expenses for 0 to 3 months.
To help these and other people better prepare for a proverbial "rainy day," a group of Georgia Tech student entrepreneurs has created MoneyPie, a new mobile app that turns saving money into a fun social activity for friends, families, or other groups wanting to work together to achieve a savings goal.
The developers – set to showcase their work this Thursday as part of CREATE-X Demo Day at the Fox Theatre – initially wanted to figure out how the same mobile technology that enables purchases with one tap of the screen, could be socially engineered to encourage people to consistently put more money away for later.
“Spending is a social activity, and we wanted to make saving money one as well,” said Eithan Martinez, a computer science undergraduate and one of three co-founders.
MoneyPie allows any size group to decide how much to save (the goal is the same for all members) and gives users the ability to create intermediate goals and a target due date. Rewards are set for meeting the savings goal and penalties are incurred for missing it.
The development team left the incentive system open-ended so that people could be creative.
“If you don’t reach your goal, the penalty might be doing the laundry for your roommates,” said Martinez. “If you hit your savings mark, maybe your friend picks up the check when you go out to eat.”
What happens if everyone meets the goal?
“Then I think that we’re doing something right,” said Martinez.
The team researched the mobile app market and didn’t find anything similar to what MoneyPie is attempting to do. Aside from “gamifying” saving money, Martinez said it helps teach financial literacy and good money habits to younger generations.
“Spending money is easy, saving is harder, and this type of social framework has a lot of potential to help kids, young adults, and even older people with established incomes to view money in a more thoughtful way,” Martinez said.
The app maintains the security and privacy of user information through the Plaid API, a global financial standard that connects user bank account information to apps.
For those socially motivated savers, MoneyPie has built-in functionality that allows group members to see each other’s progress, something the development team hopes stokes friendly competition. By saving in a group and keeping track of each other’s savings, friends can also mutually motivate each other to reach their goals and share tips in the process.
The mobile app will be available in August on Google Play and the App Store. The team includes Martinez and computing engineering undergrads Andres Strulovic, Samuel Gedaly, and Daniel de Matheu. Explore all the CREATE-X teams from this summer by market segment in an interactive data graphic from the GVU Center at Georgia Tech.