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Quinn’s pitch at the Dutch Ministry of Finance

Looking for new collaborations with researchers and organisations in the financial domain.
Posted on September 21, 2020

On Thursday September 10, Garrett Meccariello had the honour to pitch Quinn during the quarterly meeting of the Dutch Ministry of Finance’s Action Plan on Consumer Decisions.

Quinn is a science-based chrome browser extension that monitors web traffic for online shopping, and when identified, displays messages reminding users of their financial aspirations before they make a purchase. The idea of Quinn was based on research that Meccariello did with fellow University of Pennsylvania colleague, Tobias Nasgarde, as part of TFI’s 2017 Research Challenge, that indicated that warnings could lead to a potential drop of 24% in online purchases.

The Dutch Ministry of Finance’s Action Plan on Consumer Decisions is a platform that motivates research, business and policy to work together and create new innovations based on research insights. Garrett asked the audience to help him in his mission to reduce the yearly overspending of €2500 per person due to online shopping. Specifically, he was looking for help to distribute Quinn among new users, develop new features and scale Quinn, and experiment to drive consumers to make even better decisions.

Next to Quinn’s pitch, other initiatives pitched their idea or showed their progress. The challenge around problematic debt proved to be important to many. The Dutch Debt Prevention Route, initiated by banks such as ING and Rabobank, showed some initial results on how to activate their customers to look for help when facing debt problems. People can easily accumulate and lose control of their debt due to, for example, unexpected life events. Therefore, a reassessment of a debtor’s financial situation can be of help. Felix Uhl of the Gedragsstudio presented research in collaboration with the Dutch association of finance companies (VFN) showing that surprisingly it was not incentives, but rewording of the communication, that motivates people to share recent information about their financial situation with creditors. Although it is better to prevent than to cure, as debt can take over and become problematic to households. In such occasions the help of caregivers and institutions become crucial. Plinkr acknowledges this need and contributes to it. On the digital stage they presented their social enterprise that aims to facilitate caregivers and institutions in their goal to help people with problematic debt.

Solving financial challenges such as problematic debt isn’t easy but, together with all participants of the Action Plan on Consumer Decisions, steps are being taken to come to a collaborative approach in The Netherlands. We, from the Think Forward Initiative, highly support this goal and hope to collaborate with other researchers and organisations to make Quinn and other initiatives a big success.