Case Study

Can Associations to One’s Future Self (Or Dissociations from One’s past Self) Drive Sign-Ups?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finds that the majority of overdraft fees were incurred on transactions of $24 or less and were repaid within three days.

According to the CFPB, “If a consumer borrowed $24 for three days and paid the median overdraft fee of $34, such a loan would carry a 17,000 percent annual percentage rate (APR).”

To help people not have to pay these fees, we partnered with Chime, an online bank with no monthly fees, no minimum balances, no foreign transaction fees, no overdraft fees or transfer fees.

Behavioral Diagnosis and Key Insights

We ran a number of intuition studies and found that people massively underestimate how much they pay in bank fees. That’s because we tend to not remember our mistakes. Thus, we helped Chime develop their Bank Fee Finder tool. Anyone can go online, link their bank account, and see how much they’ve paid in bank fees in the last year. The tool has reached thousands of people and has made it easier for people to switch to a no-fee bank like Chime.

We also worked with Chime to launch their 10% auto-savings tool.

Through this tool, users can opt-in to automatically saving 10% of any direct deposits into their checking accounts.

This tool led to more than $8 million in savings in the first few months.

To help more consumers sign up for Chime, we conducted an in-depth behavioral audit of their sign-up flow, analyzed their conversion data to identify significant drop-off points, and conducted in-depth interviews with Chime employees.

Our analysis led us to two key findings:

  1. There’s a limited emphasis on benefits. Their sign-up flow focused on simplifying the amount of inputs a user has to read and This is generally a good practice, but our behavioral analysis also found little callout to the benefits of opening a Chime account, that may have attracted applicants in the first place.
  2. There’s a long delay before being able to use the card. Due to the time constraints of physically mailing a debit card, and the technical restrictions of Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers, takes a couple of days for a user to receive their Chime debit card and activate their account. We know that motivation decreases sharply with time, which was reflected in the data as a sharp drop-off in the number of users who continued on to the activation


Together with Chime, we designed an experiment with the goal of increasing conversion, and ultimately savings, through their enrollment flow.

Past research from Dan Bartels and Lance Rips has shown that a closer association with one's future self can increase one's desire to save. Similarly, it may be the case that disassociating from one's past self can increase one's desire to avoid past sub-optimal financial behaviors. With this in mind, we ran an experiment within their enrollment process.

In this experiment, called the Start Stop Experiment, we added two screens asking users in the middle of the enrollment process to answer if they're ready to start or stop being a certain kind of person.

Experimental Conditions

Chime experimet to drive more sign-ups


We launched our Start Stop experiment in July 2017. The experiment is still in the field. We expect to have results by Q1 2018. Our Initial Deposit experiment is set to launch in Q1 2018.