Fintech developers continue to bet consumers can save for the short term and the long haul if just given the right tools.
This week, Vault, an investment startup in Portland, Ore., launched mobile apps tied to a product that invests a percentage of an on-demand worker’s paycheck into an individual retirement account. Meanwhile, the startup Retiremap announced a system — created in partnership with Duke University’s Common Cents Lab — that partners with companies to offer their employees financial coaching on goals they rank high.
Several fintech companies, as well as banks, have set out to help people save with varying degrees of success. Inspiring people to save for retirement is an even more audacious goal. According to research from Pew Charitable Trusts, 68% of millennials 22 and older have no retirement plan, for instance.
Retiremap wants to motivate people through human financial coaches along with emails, text messages and in-app communications. Although Retiremap may help someone set up a retirement plan, the eight-week program will start where the employee wants to start, such as setting up an emergency fund or saving up to buy a house.
“Our mission is to help more underserved populations tap into critical financial guidance,” Matt Iverson, Retiremap’s chief executive, said in a press release.
The firm built and tested prototypes of the system at the Common Cents Lab and says it is currently rolling the technology out at several companies, including Channel Financial, a retirement plan advisory firm.
Vault, which was started in 2015, takes another approach to motivating people. Rather than using human advisers, the startup has users link in their bank account data into the app. Then the technology recommends a percentage of their paychecks to be parked in a Vault IRA. The automated service plans to charge customers $1 per month or 0.25% once the user has saved $5,000. To keep users engaged, Vault plans to highlight how it invests.
Vault’s CEO, Randy Fernando, said his company is trying to answer a question many on-demand workers don’t know the answer to: how much should they contribute on a monthly basis to their retirement. It is a thorny question for most, but especially so for those individuals whose income varies.
Vault had initially planned to sell the service to employers. It changed the distribution model after it soft launched in December and found contractors and freelancers wanted the service more so than the employers.
Both startups join a small but growing area of fintech that is zooming in on savings, including for retirement. Wela, for example, crunches financial data to show users how daily spend influences their retirement plans. The robo-adviser Betterment supports 401(k)s and KeyCorp announced its acquisition of HelloWallet, whose technology does crunching to determine whether its customers have retirement plans, among other things, to score their financial health.