Treasury Notes

 Direct Express Mobile App Delivers Financial Capability to Those Most in Need

By: Walt Henderson

April is Financial Capability Month, an important time to highlight financial education for those most in need in our population. Financial capability and literacy are important tools toward individual prosperity. However, a lack of these tools can be a significant barrier that can lower an individual’s standard of living and limit financial independence.

While financial capability and literacy are important to all segments of society, it is especially vital to those without a traditional bank account who depend on monthly federal benefit payments as a primary or sole source of income. Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service is pleased to announce the Direct Express® Mobile App, because it delivers essential financial tools for individuals to take charge of their own finances. 

Today, Treasury is making 98 percent of monthly federal benefit payments electronically, with the vast majority of recipients choosing direct deposit to an existing bank or credit union account. However, some individuals still do not have a traditional bank account. The Direct Express Debit MasterCard® card program provides an electronic payment method to some 5.5 million federal benefit recipients. 

Fifty-three percent of our cardholders had a smartphone in 2015, up from 32 percent in 2013. And about 78 percent of Direct Express cardholders with a smartphone use it to access the internet or use a mobile application. This is why the Bureau of the Fiscal Service worked with our partners to develop the Direct Express Mobile App. The app offers cardholders with smartphones an opportunity to better understand and manage their Direct Express card accounts. Given the high smartphone adoption rate, this mobile app provides an empowering tool to those who need it most by allowing cardholders to:

1.     Check their Direct Express card balances,

2.     Make smarter financial choices by viewing their transaction history,

3.     Find the nearest ATM or cash back locations, and

4.     Learn how best to manage their prepaid card through the PayPerks® rewards program.

Equally important, the Direct Express Mobile App is easy and accessible technology. In August, we began rolling out the app to a small group of Direct Express cardholders. Since then, more than 100,000 cardholders have started using the mobile app and the response has been extremely positive. Overall, the app has a 98 percent satisfaction rate, and a 4.4 (out of 5) rating on Google Play, which lists it as one of the top financial apps.

Today, our customer call center receives 20 million calls each month – mainly from customers calling to check a balance, confirm a benefit deposit, or a purchase transaction. While customers will always have that option, mobile app users may never need to call customer service again.

We’ve already seen cardholders turn to the Direct Express Mobile App because it allows 24/7 banking from their smartphone. The app has many useful features to help cardholders manage their personal finances and greatly improve financial independence. The app also has the potential to reduce call center volume and save taxpayer dollars.

For many cardholders, access to simple account information is critical to meet their financial needs on a monthly basis. With this app, we’re excited to be leveraging technology to better serve the American public.

Existing Direct Express® cardholders can simply download the Direct Express® Mobile App on their smartphones from the Apple iTunes® Store or Google Play for Android® and follow the registration prompts. Once registered, the cardholder can take a quick and easy tour of the application features.​

Walt Henderson is the Director of the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Strategy Division at the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

Posted in:  Financial Capability
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