Inside Even & Earned Wage Access

Why we unsubscribe our own paying users every month

Relying on traditional subscription tactics won’t help us build a useful service for our members.
A balanced seesaw with one orange sphere on the left, and three blue spheres on the right, against a red background.

At Even, our goal is to help our members make progress in life by building stronger financial futures. We do this with our app which employers offer as an employee benefit for financial wellness. Employees at those companies pay a flat membership fee to access features to get paid early, monitor spending, track budgets, and build their savings. But if a member starts to exhibit a particular behavior, we automatically unsubscribe them from our service and stop charging them.

Subscription models are great — but for who?

Subscription-based businesses have been around for four hundred years, and today they’re flourishing; in the past five years alone, this industry has grown by 100% each year. It’s not just about newspapers and magazines anymore. We’ve even gone way past internet, TV, and streaming. Now you can subscribe to in-home fitness, vegetables, razors, doctors, and cars.

From the consumer perspective, there are many benefits to a subscription model. There’s convenience, with automatic billing and delivery of a product or service you know you’ll use frequently (like your cell phone data). It’s also sometimes a bargain: You could choose to pay $20 per month, or $200 per year, and save $40 if you choose the latter.

For businesses, the benefit of a subscription model is clear: Instead of a one-time sale, a company gets recurring revenue. The business doesn’t need to keep convincing you to give them money every month (or quarter, or year), and can rely on a much more predictable revenue stream. This is something companies are reluctant to give up, leading some of them to engage in some unfortunate tactics like making it nearly impossible to cancel. They want to keep your money, even if you don’t want to keep using their service.

A different kind of membership-based business

Even’s business operates on a membership model. We make money by charging an $8 monthly fee for employees at large companies to use our app. Just like the subscription services mentioned above, this happens automatically. Most of our members get billed each month for uninterrupted service — unless something very specific happens.

That very specific thing is this: If a member stops using our app for 60 days, we pause their membership. The member will be automatically converted to the unpaid version of the app—which still lets them access and transfer any money they’ve put in their Even Savings — and we stop charging them until they ask us to start again.

Many subscription-based providers actually rely on people forgetting that they’re paying money (and therefore being less likely to cancel and revoke that membership fee). But operating that way would be in direct opposition to Even’s core mission as a company, which is to even the playing field for creating a better life. One way we can help even that playing field is by not charging someone for something they aren’t using.

Helping our members make progress

Beyond simple fairness, there’s a deeper issue at play. We’ve built our app to help people make financial progress — that’s why in addition to on-demand pay, our app has features to track spending, build a budget, and save money. But if someone has stopped using the app, it’s possible that they’re really struggling in life. They might not have the time or energy to think about checking their budget. They might not have a spare dollar to put into savings.

If someone is that busy and stressed, it’s also likely that they’ve completely forgotten that we’re charging them eight of their hard-earned dollars per month. We could go ahead and take the money, but that’s not the way we want to do business. Instead, we focus on building a product that people will want to continue paying for because it’s helping them create a better life. If they can’t focus on that at the moment — or if our product just isn’t working for them — then we have no business taking their money. Our goal is to help people make progress, not profit off their lack of it.

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