SMS remindersfor financial inclusion: Evidence for a digital-based experiment in Mexico
Last registered on March 08, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
SMS remindersfor financial inclusion: Evidence for a digital-based experiment in Mexico
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003982
Initial registration date
March 07, 2019
Last updated
March 08, 2019 3:55 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
BBVA Research
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University Carlos III of Madrid
PI Affiliation
Complutense University of Madrid and BBVA Research
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2014-11-08
End date
2015-07-10
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Savings implies the cost of scarifying present consumption but benefits in the future. If individuals are time consistent, we expect saving levels to be optimum but under present-biased individuals, we observe undersaving since they overweigh present over the future. Evidence shows that individuals are at least partially naive about this present-bias and fail to predict their future behavior (DellaVigna and Malmendier, 2016 and Acland and Levy, 2015). This is one of the explanatory factors for which individuals often do not take a beneficial action such as saving.
Literature shows that small reminder interventions have an economically significant impact of behavior in a variety of domains including savings, loan repayments or medication adherence (Karlan et al., 2017). When individuals face future plans, as in the case of savings, memory is important since they may forget about the task.
We design an intervention that consists of randomly send weekly SMS reminders to low income individuals who have a bank account. Under this assumption, SMS reminders might help in increasing savings (or in generating regular-saving behavior). Our aim is to analyze whether individuals save more and more regularly when they receive remainders. In addition, we aim to confirm whether the use of alternative access channels, such as banking agents, to interact with the formal financial system is a preferred option beside branches or ATMs.

External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Arellano , Afonso , Noelia Camara and Jaime Millán. 2019. "SMS remindersfor financial inclusion: Evidence for a digital-based experiment in Mexico ." AEA RCT Registry. March 08. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3982/history/42807
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)


Intervention Start Date
2015-05-18
Intervention End Date
2015-07-10
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Savings: amount os savings in the reference bank account
Number of times that use banking access channels
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our final sample includes $2606$ participants form all the $32$ states in Mexico. Participants have been randomly selected among BBVA Bancomer adult customers (between 17 and 64 year old) lower than USD 400 per monthwith a cell phone. Then, they are randomly assign to be part of our treatment (1268 participants) or control group (1338 participants). The length of the experiment was eight weeks (May and June, 2015). Our intervention consists of three blocks, salutation and disclaimer, saving-preferences short baseline survey and reminders.
Anytime, participants can write an SMS asking to abandom the treatment. During the intervention, only 6 people requested not to receive the SMSs.
For all participants, we have information about age, gender, estimated income and a range of variables informing their interaction with the bank in terms of savings, bank accounts, use of different channels, etc.
Experimental Design Details
Our final sample includes $2606$ participants form all the $32$ states in Mexico. Participants have been randomly selected among BBVA Bancomer adult customers (between 17 and 64 year old) with an income equal or lower than USD 400 per month and with a cell phone. Then, they are randomly assign to be part of our treatment (1268 participants) or control group (1338 participants). The length of the experiment was eight weeks (May and June, 2015). Our intervention consists of three blocks, salutation and disclaimer, saving preferences and reminders. The first and second blocks contain a total of 5 SMSs that receive all participants only once, at the first day of the experiment (May 18th). The first block, SMS 1 to SMS 3, are salutation and disclaimer messages from them to be aware that BBVA Bancomer might communicate with them via SMSs in order to give them some tips for saving and inform them that their data will be protected. The second block, which is sent the day after the first one, includes a short baseline survey with two question (SMS 4A and SMS 4B) asking about their saving habits and their preferences for savings. Questions in the second block are important to capture unobserved heterogeneity between participants and non-participants. In addition, it is useful to control for unobserved effects of our treatment coming from informal ways of saving and to infer whether our treatment have different impact depending pre-treatment saving preferences of individuals. The third block, which contains three SMSs (SMS 5 to SMS 7), corresponds to our treatment and it is sent just to the treatment group weekly (every Friday between 8am and 9am). Out target group are low income individuals in Mexico who mostly get their salaries weekly, and in cash, every Friday so, we convey to follow this timing. We send the three SMS reminders coinciding with the day that individuals are paid by employers. Since memory and present bias affect the use of reminder systems (Ericson, 2017), ideally, if a treatment is intended to increase savings, individuals should get an automatic deduction for the amount of money that they want to save that will be sent to a different bank account as soon as they get the salary in order to avoid monetary illusion. However, this way of automatize tasks requires at least two necessary conditions, getting wages through a bank account and having smooth income flows over the year (similar and known monthly wages). These conditions do not often hold when it comes to low income people. SMS 5 informs about the importance of saving and also calls for action. SMS 6 reinforce the part of SMS 5 that calls for action. It includes three variations in the wording and tone that allow us to study the existence of a framing bias. Individuals in the treatment group are at the same time randomly assigned to three different groups for receiving positive (gain), neutral or negative (loss) forms of SMS 5. Finally, SMS 6 also call for action but in this case to inform about the benefits of using an alternative access channel to interact with the financial system (i.e. banking agents). Anytime, participants can write an SMS asking to abandom the treatment. During the intervention, only 6 people requested not to receive the SMSs. For all participants, we have information about age, gender, estimated income and a range of variables informing their interaction with the bank in terms of savings, bank accounts, use of different channels, etc.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer: Stratified random sample among Bancomer clients with a mobile phone and income lower than USD 400 per month
Randomization Unit
individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
0
Sample size: planned number of observations
Treatment (1268 participants) or control group (1338 participants)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
-
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers