Save first, spend later: an update on our journey to get people saving

This post was written by Benedict Shegog, Product Manager at Wagestream.

Safestream turns one year old 🥳

A little over a year ago, we turned on Safestream, Wagestream’s very own savings product, designed to help everyone start and grow a savings habit, even people with variable and unpredictable pay. Happy birthday, Safestream! 

The pandemic has brought savings and financial resilience to the front of everyone’s minds, and we’ve learnt a lot about how our users think about risk, pay, and savings. As we look forward to the next incarnation of Safestream, I wanted to share some of the lessons learnt along the way. 

What… is Safestream?

Safestream is the savings feature that thousands of Wagestreamers have used to put aside millions of pounds over the course of the pandemic. Not bad for a first iteration, eh!

We’ve seen a range of different uses for Safestream. For some, it’s an emergency fund. Other people are just building a pot of cash for a holiday. For at least a few of our users, it was a way to tuck away money for a post-pandemic beer.

Why we built it in the first place

Back in 2019, we knew that a savings product was a natural fit for Wagestream. 

Because we already handle payday for all of our users, we’re uniquely positioned to help people who want to save. Our integration with payroll systems means we can deduct savings from their salary before it hits their current account (in the same way as your pension). 

Additionally, Wagestream’s focus on financial health and our core social mission meant that helping people start a savings habit was always going to be important to us. 

Lessons learned along the way

Launching a savings product in a global pandemic and watching the impact it has on people’s finances is a sobering experience. We were only just starting to ramp up the product when covid hit the UK and savings contributions started to dry up.

In an effort to help Wagestreamers keep up their savings habit as the pandemic loomed, we accelerated plans for our save-the-pennies feature. By rounding up the spare change from each shift, we were able to offer our users a lower bar to entry than saving a fixed amount each month which still added up to a significant balance over time.

Today, more than half of our savers use Wagestream’s save-the-pennies feature. And when we talk to people who’re using it, we hear again and again that people plan to take the next step and set up fixed monthly contributions when the economy opens back up this summer and people’s finances start to stabilise.

A year of Safestream, in numbers

  • 28% of eligible users, started saving fixed amounts
  • £34,000 savings rewards for users
  • £4.5m savings goal set by our users, for 2021 (so far!)

We’re only just getting started

We’re very fond of Safestream as our first foray into savings products, but there’s lots to improve on. We’re already taking steps to increase the maximum balance and roll the feature out to all of our users. But we want to do much much more…

Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing more details of a number of big and small features that help Wagestreamers start and build a savings habit. Our users will have access to smarter savings tools, features that make saving more social, and of course a way to make their savings work harder.