Experiential Learning Through FinTech Applications

Project Start:09/2020
Researchers:Andrej Gill, Florian Hett
Category: Household Finance, Experiment Center
Funded by:SAFE

In this field experiment we go beyond the mere documentation and investigation of financial mistakes and explore the possibilities to overcome them. Concretely, we investigate the effectiveness of a specific experiential learning treatment run by a cooperating FinTech firm. The treatment consists of a comprehensive bundle of financial education elements, all of them embedded in a gamified environment. However, a likely problem in helping households to overcome mistakes in financial decision making is that they first need to realize the problem in the first place. This adds another complication to achieving the goal of overcoming financial mistakes – those making them first have to accept that they “need help”. The specific nature of the treatment we analyze here makes us optimistic that it is able to overcome this obstacle: Its natural embedment in a financial aggregation app and its gamified nature represent very low entry barriers even for those households who might actually be quite convinced to have their finances under control. To explicitly test this notion, we benefit from the possibility to run auxiliary consumer surveys with the exact same households for which the treatment is implemented. In these surveys we ask individuals not just about their actual financial literacy but we also elicit their self-perceived financial literacy. This allows us to not only investigate the general effectiveness of the app, but also whether the comparable ease by which people can access the app and its experiential learning nature helps in reaching those households which are typically hard to reach but important to teach: households which are overconfident with respect to their self-assessed financial literacy. While we do not need funding for incentives - this is provided by the partnering company - the success of this field experiment crucially requires support by student assistants. Their work not only includes the execution and implementation of the experiement (including assurance of randomization), but also cleaning the partner's data so that it can propoerly be analyzed.