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:
Check their Direct Express card balances,
Make smarter financial choices by viewing their
Find the nearest ATM or cash back locations, and
Learn how best to manage their prepaid card through the PayPerks®
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
Walt Henderson is the Director of the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
Strategy Division at the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.