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Brief Published: 23 Oct 2017

Easy Saving for Low-Wage Workers

Onward helps people set money aside for unexpected expenses

Washington, DC-based fintech start-up Onward has created an app that makes it simpler to set money aside each week for an emergency fund.

Designed for those earning minimum wage, the Onward app helps save for unexpected expenses that would otherwise cause financial problems. It does this by automatically moving small deductions from users' weekly income to a safety net account, depending on the savings goal outlined by the user.

Currently in pilot mode, the app also offers credit with lower interest rates than other providers, saving people from having to resort to payday loans that often charge up to 300% in annual interest. A user needs to participate in the savings feature of the app for three months before they become eligible for the loans service. When they repay the money, this helps them to build their credit history.

Founder Ronnie Washington was inspired to create the app after seeing his uncle – a grocery-store worker – struggle to pay a bill for car repairs. "Folks were hard workers, going to work every day, sometimes working multiple jobs, trying to set money aside, but still seeing their savings washed away, and not having enough and ending up at the door of some predatory lenders," he told Fast Company. "I just felt like I needed to do something about it."

Consumers are seeking fintech solutions for smart savings assistance and budget coaching, as explored in Flash Finance. For more on the emerging tech innovations streamlining financial planning, see Rethinking Finance: Wired Money 2017 and Human-Centred Tech Trends: The Tech Expo 2016.

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