Columbia Business School works with Meniga for a study on Personal Finance apps

This four-year study shows evidence that those who use finance apps can boost savings and lower consumer debt.

Alicja Lei

19 May 2020

Assistant Professor Michaela Pagel of Columbia Business School recently published her findings on finance apps and its effect on financial health. Pagel, along with co-authors Bruce Carlin (University of California) and Arna Olofsson (Copenhagen Business School) conducted this research as part of the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series.

As part of their research for the paper, Pagel and her team worked with Meniga’s Analytics team for insights on how people engage with personal finance solutions. The Meniga app in Iceland has been nudging Icelanders to take control of their financial health since the last recession in 2009. This history, along with the fact that Iceland is a nearly cashless society, provided the perfect data set needed to conduct this type of research.

By comparing consumers’ financial data in the two years before and two years after adopting Meniga (which was introduced to Iceland in November 2014), the researchers could infer the app’s impact.

The benefits of using a finance app were clear!

Logging into Meniga at least one more time per month was associated with a decrease of $19.62 in bank fees and $15.47 in overdraft interest, which turned into a reduction of 5 percent in short-term unsecured high-interest debt. Each additional login was associated with approximately $2.24 lower bank fees per month and $1.77 lower overdraft interest.

Although the amounts were incremental, they have the potential to make a substantial impact on lower-income households, not to mention having developed healthy financial habits for all users.

Photo by Katie Harp on Unsplash

The paper makes the connection to physical health by which obesity researchers recommend stepping on a scale frequently to monitor weight. “There may be a psychological mechanism whereby accessing info about your consumer debt more frequently changes your spending and savings patterns.”

Here at Meniga, it is our mission to help people lead better financial lives, and we feel incredibly proud to know that the products we have developed and continue to innovate are doing just that.

Meniga has previously worked with Columbia on a paper entitled ‘The Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: New Evidence from Personal Finances’ which concluded that retirees were more inclined to reduce consumer debt and increase their liquid savings and a paper entitled The Liquid Hand-to-Mouth: Evidence from Personal Finance Management Software’.

About Columbia Business School

Centered in New York City, the global hub of business, Columbia Business School offers its diverse and entrepreneurial students daily access to influential industry leaders. Established in 1916, Columbia Business School is one of the oldest business schools in the world. It is one of six Ivy League business schools.