Idea: "Pay me not to...."

(james_e_bell) #1

A bit of a strange idea - just wondered what people thought!

I was having a discussion with my sister in law about saving money and stopping bad spending habits (one of hers is taking a taxi all the time - she is a student and cant afford it!!). I said ‘if someone paid you £5 to take the bus instead of take a taxi would you do it?’ (she said she would)

I wonder whether it could be cool to switch around this behaviour and ‘pay people’ when they avoid doing things they want to stop. Maybe part of someones budget could be ‘locked away’ and released as they avoid doing things (taking taxis, buying stuff from vending machine etc)

What do people think?

(Ben Green) #2

Yeah, I like the idea and thought of something similar a while back

The downside is I couldn’t see any way for us to be rewarded without others incurring a penalty if they fail to do avoid doing their bad habit. I later developed a moral standing on the issue after coming up with this idea, in the same way interest is paid to users’ savings off the backs of penalties of users’ overdrafts.

Although your idea (back on topic)…

… would overcome this issue.

Not everyone can afford to have part of their balance locked away though so would need to a way of disabling it either permanently until choosing to reenable or in the event of a financial emergency. The argument to that though is that this very feature may prevent financial emergencies from occurring in the first place.


yep…like incentivizing them to stop smoking

(Ben Green) #4

Interesting, just curious as to how it could be achieved? Were you thinking of manual entry, OCR reading of receipts or somehow obtaining transaction data?


purchases of peppermints or wine gums :joy:

(james_e_bell) #6

to be honest - I wasnt sure actually how it would work! I was just interested in it as a concept/if it could be workable. I agree with you that you wouldnt want the money really to be ‘locked away’ maybe its just really a way of messaging or ‘rewarding’ ‘good’ behaviour.

e.g. maybe based upon spending analysis, monzo knows that i spend x a month on my vending machine at work (this is actually an identifyable merchant at my work) or on taxis e.g. uber. My goal is to decrease those spends. In that case it could be that because I typically spend X £ on that merchant a month, whenever I actively avoid doing so I could tell Monzo and it says “congratulations, you have saved Y” - the balance/payment is actually all virtual, it is just showing that i didnt spend so much of the X that I normally did. Another way of approaching this could be monzo saying, you normally spend such an amount per day, try and beat that and then congratulating you for not (nudge behaviour)

In those two examples, the spend was 100% of the item at a particular merchant. If it was more opaque (e.g. cigarettes) I wonder whether actually people normally get cigarettes from particular merchants? If so, there could be some setup that says what are you trying to decrease, where do you normally buy from, etc etc and identify the merchants/spend in that fashion.

Anyway, in summary i still dont really know how this would work, I just thought it was an interesting idea and wondered if technology could help ‘flip this around’ (help people see that the equivalent of avoiding a spend is being paid more)

(Ben Green) #7

Using my housemate as an example, I think he buys most of his cigarettes/tobacco from our local independent corner shop at the same time as buying other general items (milk, bread, eggs, wine, top up of gas/electricity, etc).

Even if we were to swap the scenario from cigarettes to alcohol for instance, pubs and off-licences also serve food and non-alcoholic beverages. Certain shops like HMV would be an easy tell when trying to cut down on music, games and dvd purchases, but then again you might also buy those things from a supermarket.

I don’t think there’s a way for this to be feasible unless Monzo is somehow able to see an itemised transaction. There is demand for that as feature and would have other uses besides this. However it is controversial from a big brother point of view. To that I say, the data probably already exists and is associated with our identity already (unless paid by cash).