SaveUp makes paying your debts addictive and fun

It can be pretty hard to get people to do what is in their best interest, and nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to managing personal finances.

Launching today, SaveUp creates powerful rewards for people who log on to the website to track and manage their spending to save money. Unlike most loyalty programs out there that give you credit based on how much you spend, SaveUp rewards you for how much you save.

“When you come to SaveUp, it’s like a fun rewards loop that gets you thinking about your finances in a positive way, everyday,”  co-founder and chief executive officer Priya Haji told VentureBeat. On SaveUp, users are enticed to save money, and pay down their credit card debt, reduce the balance on their auto loans, or pay their mortgage, through the accumulation of daily points. These points can be redeemed for gift cards from SaveUp partners, or to used play games on the site, where more points can be won. The whole process is supposed to be simple, different and fun, instilling responsible financial behavior all the while.

“We’re tapping into certain human behaviors, but trying to harness them to help people achieve their goals,” says Haji.

Haji says the idea of offering a $2 million grand prize comes from premium bonds, a savings and investment program in the UK, where families, get the chance to win a large cash purse for saving money. The downside, however, is that depositors lose interest compounding, but 1 in 3 families are participating. SaveUp participants earn the same interest on their savings accounts as before, and can win some pretty nice prizes such as a trip to Hawaii, or a home theater system, as well as gift cards redeemable at a variety of merchants.

There are three main ways SaveUp will make money. Paid sponsorhips from brands such as Virgin America, GameStop, and Banana Republic, whose products and services are offered as rewards, if one revenue source. SaveUp will also make money by referring customers to financial institutions. The third revenue stream comes from partnerships with financial institutions such as Bank of the West, that will have its own customized version of SaveUp. Bank of the West has more than 5 million depositors.

Haji sold her first company, World of Good, to eBay. World of Good is a marketplace where local artisans from around the world sell crafts that are making a positive impact, such as by supporting indigenous craftspeople. Partnering with eBay made Haji focus on how SaveUp could create a scalable business model while affecting positive change, she says. And financial services is an area ripe for innovation, “It’s fun to be doing something purely digital,” Haji says. And for most Americans, the idea of a gamified solution to our collective financial woes couldn’t come at a better time.

SaveUp has 11 employees, and has received $2 million in funding from BlueRun Ventures and True Ventures.

[Image Credit: UrosK and Szasz-Fabian Ilka ErikaShutterStock]