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We are sunsetting the Momentum Savings Challenge

Momentum is sunsetting the Savings Challenge in 2024. Read more about the launch of this program, its successes, and our key learnings.

  • Article
  • Momentum news

Fri Feb 2, 2024 by Momentum Staff

For over 20 years, Momentum has offered matched savings programs that work with participants to build financial literacy skills and save for the future. These programs have acted as power boosts to participants’ savings, allowing them to purchase productive assets to move their lives forward and exit out of poverty for good.

In 2018, Momentum developed a strategic goal to use technology to expand the reach of our matched savings programs. In efforts to scale up the impact, we pursued the development of an online savings app called the Momentum Savings Challenge. We partnered with a Canadian online financial technology company, QUBER, to offer an online savings app for people living on lower incomes.

The Momentum Savings Challenge on QUBER was Canada's first savings app program designed for people living on lower incomes. Our ambitious goal was to work with 10 times more people through the savings app. We aimed to have 1,500 people participate in the Savings Challenge over two years.

The Savings Challenge was launched as a pilot project in 2020 with a plan to operate for at least two years. The target population was Calgary and area residents - primarily people over 17 - and families living on a lower income. Eligible people needed a smartphone or tablet, an existing bank account, and had to earn less than 140% of the Low Income Cut Off (LICO).

In 2023 Momentum completed an external evaluation to assess the impact of the Savings Challenge and compare it to our other matched savings programs. The evaluation identified that the app worked well for people in the program. Most people completed the 12-month challenge and developed regular saving habits while building emergency savings.

The program also presented some key challenges, including:

  • Promotion of the online savings program through community partners did not lead to increased reach. Most Savings Challenge participants had a pre-existing knowledge of Momentum, or a prior relationship with Momentum. Promotion through community partners was also challenging due to COVID restrictions during the evaluation period.
  • A general lack of trust in third-party apps and the need to link a personal bank account to the app.
  • A fear of online scams and skepticism towards automated savings was a significant barrier to uptake.
  • While Momentum shares high levels of trust with our participants, users not familiar with Momentum were less likely to participate.
  • The target of 1,500 users was set without a full understanding of industry-standard uptake rate (1-2%) for online financial services app. Uptake in the Momentum Savings Challenge was comparable to market use of the QUBER app, including employer sponsored partnerships.

The Momentum Savings Challenge was good test in terms of using fintech to offer a savings program to people living on lower incomes. However, it did not successfully extend the scale of matched savings programs offered by Momentum.

A key learning for us was that it is difficult to achieve scale using technology while also remaining focused on a specific geographic area for program delivery. For us at Momentum, we remain committed to focusing our program activity in Calgary and area, which means the potential market of people living on lower incomes who are willing to use an online savings app is just too small.

Momentum decided to sunset the Savings Challenge in 2024. Closing the Savings Challenge creates further opportunities for us to offer new programming going forward, such as new Financial Empowerment programs focused on tax filing and accessing income-boosting benefits. This programming furthers our mission of supporting people living on lower incomes through financial empowerment.

You can read the full evaluation summary on the Momentum Savings Challenge here.