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MyMAF: Mobile Insights During the COVID-19 Crisis

When we set out to create our new MyMAF back in 2018, we wanted to build something that would live up to our values. We would meet people where they are: on the go, with researchers noting a significant rise in the number of households who rely on their smartphones to access the internet. We would listen to their journeys and needs, and offer bilingual, culturally-relevant content that reflected the realities and lived experiences of low income and immigrant communities. We would build on what’s already good and working in people’s lives: instead of prescribing another financial management or budgeting lesson, we would recognize people as the experts we know they are. We would provide a tool that empowered people to create a plan that was relevant and valuable for their lives, helping them build a pathway to reaching their goals – whatever they are.

In today’s new COVID-inflicted world, those guiding principles and tools have proved invaluable. As we shift into a new normal marked by virtual meetings and remote support, people need ready and accessible financial resources more than ever. They need tools to match the new remote world. Over the last few months, we’ve seen how MyMAF can be one of those tools.

Since April, activity in the MyMAF app has grown exponentially. Over the last five months, more than 9,000 people have visited MyMAF – accounting for the vast majority of the nearly 10,600 people who have used MyMAF since the app launched in late 2018.

At first, we wondered if people were only looking for more information about our Rapid Response campaign. More than financial empowerment tools, people need direct cash assistance today – so that’s what we prioritized providing them with. But as MyMAF user numbers climbed, we saw people actively engaging with content, building financial action plans—and making progress on those plans! So we looked closer: how is MyMAF helping people in their financial journeys during COVID?

  • A growing number of people are relying on MyMAF for financial tools and resources in Spanish. We count on getting information to people in ways that are accessible to them. That’s why we’re encouraged to see that more than 2,400 people are using the MyMAF app in Spanish – to access financial education modules, build financial action plans, and work through those lists. This reflects the communities MAF serves, who the app was built for, and who we’ve worked with over the years: the roughly one quarter of MAF clients who prefer Spanish over English.
  • There’s growing interest in quick and actionable content. People are using the app to access financial education, where and when they have time, on topics relevant to their lives. MyMAF offers four interactive content modules on the homepage, covering credit, savings, self-employment, and preparing for an immigration emergency. Between March and July, unique views of content modules rose more than 700%! MyMAF users can also access a separate online library of 30 financial education videos, offered in partnership with EverFi. We’ve seen a similar increase in EverFi video views through MyMAF—rising nearly 500% in July compared to March. Notably, views of content modules and videos both declined in August, and we’re keeping a close eye to see how MyMAF use continues to evolve.
  • People are looking for information about savings. Even as many people are dipping into savings to weather the current storm, people are looking ahead. Many are interested in how they can build savings now so that they’re prepared for the next crisis.  Across MyMAF’s financial education modules and EverFi videos, information about savings is the most frequently or second most frequently viewed content. This lines up with what others are reporting too: According to a survey by BlackRock’s Emergency Savings Initiative, 52% of respondents reported that they have increased the amount they put into savings or have begun saving more in order to be prepared for the future.
  • People are making plans – and acting on those plans. The number of users adding items to financial action plans has increased more than 250% (from average 60 users each month up to 210+). And about 50% of users are completing items on their action plans.
  • Credit, credit, and more credit. Credit is on the top of people’s minds today – how the crisis is going to impact their credit, and the lasting effects it will have on their financial lives and opportunities. In a recent report from Finicity, 61% of people who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 are concerned their credit will be negatively impacted. In MyMAF, we’ve seen a huge surge in users who are adding credit-related actions to their financial plans. The top three added and completed action items all relate to credit: setting a goal to check their credit score, learning more about the factors affecting credit, and setting a credit goal.

We want MyMAF to continue to be a useful tool to help people navigate the new COVID-19 reality. As we move forward, we’re committed to ensuring that our programs and services remain relevant. So, we’re keeping the channels open. On a daily basis, we’re talking with and intentionally listening to clients to understand their challenges and needs. Their stories and journeys will inform new content, features, and tools in future versions. We’re excited to see what’s next, and we hope you’ll be there with us.