Save Me the Money or

Increasing In-Person Savings Deposits from Check Cashing

BE Solution: When members arrive to cash a check in person, they will fill out a slip that makes cashing the checkthe same level of effort as making a deposit to their savings account.


Friction can be used strategically to make"good" things easier to do or "not-so good" things harder to do. For People who intend to cash their checks in full with the teller, the Common Cents Lab tested adding friction to purely cashing a check. We observed that members in the treatment group made significantly more deposits than those who were in the control group. In 9.26% of the cases, the friction prompted a behavior change, switching check-cashiers into depositors. These members deposited an average of $169 of their paycheck, equivalent to 22% of their checks’ value. This project is for credit unions who want to help their members increase their savings levels.


Understood Productions will assist you in developing materials specific to your organization, implementing the project, and helping at key points throughout the process, including:

  1. Developing the friction. We have a prototype check-cashing slip that you can edit for your organization’s needs.
  2. Designating which branches will participate in the project and developing training materials for the tellers.
  3. Determining the right sample size and randomly assigning people who come in to cash their checks at these branches into a treatment group or a control group. The “treatment” group will receive a check cashing slip, while the “control” group will experience business as usual.


Track the checks that are cashed and deposited for every member that comes in to cash their checks in full for 3-6 weeks, depending on the number of members per day. Also track which members receive the treatment condition or the control condition. After that time, calculate the percent of members that did make a savings deposits, the average deposit size in dollars, and the average deposit size in terms of percent of the check cashed. Understood Productions will help you conduct the analysis.