BREAD Working Paper No. 552, April 2020

Saving for Multiple Financial Needs: Evidence from Lockboxes and Mobile Money in Malawi

Shilpa Aggarwal, Valentina Brailovskaya, Jonathan Robinson


We test whether the provision of multiple labeled savings accounts affects savings and downstream outcomes in an experiment with 761 microentrepreneurs in urban Malawi. Treatment respondents received one or multiple savings accounts, in the form of lockboxes or mobile money. We find that while providing additional boxes increased savings by 40%, technical issues marred the efficacy of a second mobile money account. Both types of accounts had impacts on down- stream outcomes, including farming decisions and credit extended to customers. We do not detect differential downstream effects by the number of accounts.

Keywords: savings, mobile money, lockboxes, liquidity, labeling, mental accounting, goal-setting, microenterprises

JEL Codes: D14, L26, O12, O16