WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is now hearing pitches for a $50 million, three- to five-year integrated marketing campaign encouraging more Americans to receive federal payments via Direct Deposit.
The Federal Treasury has experienced "substantial savings" in recent years by paying Social Security benefits and similar payments with electronic transfers instead of posted checks. According to the RFP, released late last year, approximately 78% of government payees chose some form of electronic transfer in FY03.
The proposed campaign would confront the "behavioral and psychological" barriers that prevent the remaining 22% from making the switch. Research already completed under a separate contract identified a number of those barriers.
Some listed include "the sense of control" recipients feel when handling an actual check, the "ritual" element of receiving their payment in the mail, inability to qualify for a bank account, and simple procrastination.
The RFP makes special note of problems for non-English-speaking Americans and illiterates, who simply remain unaware of the option or are unable to fill out the necessary forms. Any resulting campaign would be expected to address those issues specifically.
According to the RFP, a decision was to be made "on or around the week of February 16." As of press time, however, no award had been granted.
Public affairs officers at the bank declined to be interviewed regarding the process, but it is believed that the field has been narrowed down to three top-10 agencies.