How can we encourage more people to link their bank accounts?

In-app pop-up designs
Experiment Type
Field Experiment
Access a service
Increase earnings
Focus Areas
Behavioral Concepts
Default bias Goal-gradient theory
Partner Type
Irrational Labs

What Happened

It worked. "Forced Choice" (forcing the user to either or accept a feature) or "Missing Information" (telling users that their account setup was incomplete) designs were shown to be effective in increasing bank account linkages

Lessons Learned

Using either a "Forced Choice" (forcing the user to either or accept a feature) or "Missing Information" (telling users that their account setup was incomplete) is an effective way to increase bank account linkages within a mobile app.


Today an estimated 24% of Americans earn money through gig jobs. For about half (44%) of them, the money they earn through gig work represents their primary source of income. Steady developed an app to assist gig employees to maximize their earnings given a variety of different factors inherent in gig jobs, including: hourly wage, hours, flexibility of schedule, location, and access to property (e.g. computers, cars, homes, etc.).

Steady users get the most benefit when they link their accounts. One of Steady’s core features is a free Income Tracker, which allows users to easily view their earnings from disparate sources together in one place, but only if a user links one or more bank accounts. Linking a bank account also allows Steady to make algorithmic improvements to job recommendations based on the jobs that users actually take and the earnings they make.

Steady can also then pay users bonuses directly into their account for taking certain jobs rather than through prepaid cards. Lastly, additional user investment in the platform also provides the possibility of higher numbers of user job applications and more earnings.

Together with Steady, we designed an experiment to increase bank account linking and access to the free Income Tracker.

Key Insights

There are a number of reasons that people may not follow through and link their bank accounts:

  • When a user is asked to link a bank account, the status quo is to do nothing. Skipping it is the easiest option, and the cost of not having access to the income tracker is invisible.

  • In addition to avoiding the hassle of linking, we typically avoid difficult choices.

  • We may procrastinate a decision, and a “maybe later” ultimately becomes a “no.”

  • A user may simply not recognize that they have not finished the process. We like to see things completed, to avoid errors, and we are driven to seek order and fix what's broken.


To encourage account linking, we designed an in-app pop-up that was delivered to over 15,000 unique Steady users that had created an account in the last 7 days and had not linked their bank accounts during onboarding.

Users were randomly shown one of three conditions:


Once users accepted the initial CTA, they were sent to a terms and conditions page. Once they accepted the terms and conditions, they would then see a Plaid integration page. We tracked both initial CTA acceptance and ultimate bank account links.

We found that both experimental conditions substantially outperformed the control in CTA acceptance (forced choice +71% and missing info +80%). The effect size of the forced choice (60%) and missing information (63%) conditions were similar but still statistically significantly different from the control.

Again, both experimental conditions substantially outperformed the control in bank account link rate (forced choice +63% and missing info +125%). The effect size of the missing information condition was more effective in encouraging people to link their account than the forced choice condition. The reason for this is uncertain, but we hypothesize that this could be because the condition had clearer expectations about entering information or the power of completion bias generating a strong desire to enter information. In total our experiment resulted in just under 2,000 new bank account links.