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Octavio Novelo Segura

Turning mobile phones into piggy banks with an app that incentivizes short and medium term savings

Year Honored

Latin America

Hails From

"Pigs and piggy banks share a common shape and purpose. The former is fattened up before being slaughtered, and the latter is filled before being broken. Octavio Novelo does not aim to break smartphones, but rather convert them into digital piggy banks with Zaveapp. His objective is to make putting money into a piggy bank as easy as responding to a mobile notification. His professional career and his work aimed at encouraging savings have earned him a spot among MIT Technology Review, Spanish edition´s Innovators Under 35 Mexico 2016.

The idea is simple. Users download the app, they define a ""goal"" (what they are saving for, how much they aim to save and in what timeframe) and link the app to their debit or credit card. Then the app rounds up the amount of each payment they make with their bank card and deposits the excess change in their piggy bank, which can also be bolstered through periodic deposits or by defining a percentage of each purchase to be transferred. Novelo explains: ""We recommend what users should do in order to reach the goals they have set for themselves, and the decision whether to follow them or not is theirs.""

During the savings period, the money remains in the user´s Zave App account which the company does not access, Novelo confirms. Their business begins when the piggy bank is opened, through two different means. The amount saved can be spent directly through associated ecommerce platforms, in which case Zave App receives commissions from the associated businesses. But the user can also transfer the money to their bank account and use it as they wish, in which case the user pays a fixed sum of 79 pesos and 4.4% of the total amount saved.

But, who would want to pay to save their own money? Novelo responds: ""There is such a lack of self-control and a saving culture that people are willing to pay a commission to help them execute their savings plan, because with us they can meet their goals."" Although the original idea was aimed at retirement savings, Novelo and his team thought that something so long term would not work, so they focused on short and medium term savings. Most users set goals of around 5,000 pesos (approximately 227 euros, or 244 U.S. dollars) over the course of between 45 and 60 days.

The app has already been downloaded 18,000 times since being launched in Mexico in 2014. And approximately 30% of them represent to active users, according to Novelo.

Discover all of the winning projects from Innovators Under 35 Mexico 2016."