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The impact of digital saving account on savings and welfare: Evidence from gig-economy workers in Peru
Initial registration date
November 11, 2019
November 12, 2019 11:39 AM EST
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Universidad del Pacífico
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Brigham Young University
Inter American Development Bank
Universidad del Pacífico
Additional Trial Information
The study tries to analyze how technology, transaction costs, and behavioral mechanisms influence independent workers’ willingness to save, specifically, workers from the gig economy in a developing country. The study focuses on drivers affiliated to a digital platform called Cabify that allow them to provide taxi services in Peru. Considering that, 70% of the population in Latin America are independent or informal workers, and the inevitable expansion of the gig economy in the region, it seems important to study how this model can improve and promote workers attitude toward savings.
Bernal Lobato, Noelia et al. 2019. "The impact of digital saving account on savings and welfare: Evidence from gig-economy workers in Peru." AEA RCT Registry. November 12.
Drivers will be offered a savings plan through the Cabify app. Drivers will receive an in-app message with an invitation and a link. By doing click to the link, the driver will arrive at a landing page which includes the detail characteristics of the savings product, a promotional video, a three-question survey, and an online consent document. The in-app message will be reinforced with pop-up messages which do not require the driver to open the Cabify app. This pop-up will also include the invitation and the landing page link. Drivers can opt-out of the savings plan at any time without penalty.
After the driver signs the online consent, Cabify will sent his or her information to the bank so they can open a new bank account for the driver. This account has no transactional or logistical cost and is an account from the Peruvian bank, Banco de Crédito del Perú (BCP, for its initials in Spanish). BCP has also developed a mechanism that will allow drivers to collect their debit card in any digital platform located in their agencies . Using the digital platform, drivers will be able to collect their card in less than 5 minutes. They will also be able to follow their savings through the BCP app.
The savings plans will be offered for four weeks.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The main variables of interest of the study are: (1) take-up of the savings plans, (2) contribution and savings of affiliates to their digital savings accounts, and (3) commitment to their savings.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Each variable is defined as follow:
(1) Take-up of the savings plans: This variable will take the value of 1 if the driver affiliates to the plan and 0 otherwise. This outcome is directly obtained when the driver decides to affiliate to each saving plan. We will have direct access to a real time database where we will find the status of each driver. (2) Contribution and savings of affiliates to their digital savings accounts: This variable is defined as the drivers' total savings. The data about the drivers' savings evolution will be provided by Cabify and BCP. The research team will receive information about the savings account movements every two weeks.
(3) Commitment to their savings: This variable is defined as the period, in months, that the driver retains his or her savings. The data to build this variable will be provided by the bank. As mentioned before, the research team will receive information about the drivers' savings account movements every two weeks.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Treatment 1 (T1) called “Emergency Saving Plan” offers an automatic savings plan of 2% of a driver’s weekly earnings to cover emergencies. The drivers assigned to this treatment will received in-app and pop-up messages inviting them to visit the page. After signing the online consent, the driver will receive a detailed email and WhatsApp message bringing him or her the number of the new bank account and when they can collect their debit card. Every week, between Wednesday and Friday, the driver will receive an email and WhatsApp message with the detail of his or her weekly savings. Additionally, with the opening of the new account, the driver will receive a bonus of 30 soles (about $10) to encourage them to save more and to pay attention to their new savings account.
Treatment 2 (T2), called “Smart and Flexible Saving Plan”, consists of offering to the drivers the option to save 3% of their weekly earnings every time their earnings surpass a specific threshold chosen by each driver. This intervention is an adaptation of the SMarT plan introduced by Thaler and & Benartzi (2004) and its applied to a digitalize workforce from the gig-economy. T2 is expected to cover also emergencies, reduce income variability and thus smooth consumption. Like T1, each enrolled driver will receive a detail email and message bringing him or her the number of the new bank account and where they can collect their debit card. The new bank account will be open in the next 48 hours. Additionally, every week, between Wednesday and Friday, the driver will receive an email and WhatsApp message with the detail of his or her weekly savings.
Additionally, with the opening of the new account, the driver will receive a bonus of 30 soles (about $10) to encourage them to save more and to pay attention to their new savings account.
Control Group (C) This group will not receive any type of treatment.
Experimental Design Details
Drivers were assigned to treatment and control group considering a stratification process based on three observable characteristics: weekly earnings with the Cabify platform, age, and years affiliated to Cabify measured as the number of years since the drivers’ first drop-off. The unit of randomization was the driver.
About the stratification process, the first observable variable, weekly earnings, was classified into three subgroups (low, middle, and high income) considering the distribution of this variable. The second variable, drivers’ age, was classified into two subgroups considering 39 years old as the cutoff between the two subgroups. Lastly, the third variable years affiliated to Cabify, was classified into two subgroups considering the distribution of the variable.
The randomization unit is the driver. The driver is identified using a code called “Driver ID”.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,674 drivers by treatment arm and 1,674 drivers for the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The main variable for the power calculation if the take-up of the offered savings plan. We consider a minimum detectable effect (MDE) of 15%. This percent is based on a literature review from other savings intervention in developed and developing countries. The effect considers a statistical power of 80%, an alpha level (significance level) of 5%, and a standard deviation of one. For each group, the required sample for each treatment and control group is 699 observations which makes and overall sample size of 2,097 drivers.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Universidad Cayetano Heredia
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number