There are plenty of good reasons to save, especially now that the Minnesota Credit Union Network has sweetened the pot with its WINcentive prize-linked savings program.
WINcentive launched in January with 12 credit unions participating (two more signed on soon after), and members had opened nearly 2,400 accounts by the end of April, with a combined $800,000 saved and a median account balance of $130. The statewide prize-pool had awarded $21,000 to 156 credit union members, reports Andrea Molnau, MCUN director of communications.
The network had been lobbying for the state legislature to permit incentivized savings accounts with risk-free rewards since 2011, in partnership with the Doorways to Dreams Fund, which pioneered the concept of prize-linked savings, and a statewide organization called the Citizens League.
One of the hurdles to winning legislative support was that banks were prohibited under federal law from offering savings incentives, Molnau says. The repeal of that restriction in 2014 cleared the way for Minnesota’s law.
WINcentive is open to all Minnesota credit unions. Participating financial cooperatives contribute to the prize pool, and some sponsor their own member-only drawings as well. The network offers a branded marketing kit for the program and coordinates press events.
“Our credit unions are doing a lot of marketing as well with targeted email, website ads, newsletter articles, and newspaper ads,” Molnau adds. “A couple community credit unions are doing billboard promotions, and we hear that front-line staff are excited to be cross-selling these accounts.”
WINcentive is the first prize-linked savings program in the country that permits accounts for minors, so parents have been opening accounts for their kids, which helps credit unions start building relationships with these young members, she says.
The program has also been popular with financially vulnerable consumers. According to surveys of new accountholders, 42 percent have household incomes of less than $60,000, 49 percent have less than three months of emergency savings set aside, and 58 percent experience month-to-month income volatility.
The MCUN “offers an open invitation to share our experience” with other credit unions and leagues interested in launching a similar program in their market area, Molnau says, and Doorways to Dreams might be a helpful partner as well.
“Something we did in developing this program was to create working groups with credit union representatives, so they could offer input on product design, marketing, and branding,” she adds. “What we came up with was a product that was good for credit unions to implement and good for their members.”