Why should I use Prana?
If you have a short term financial need and a supportive network of people, Prana is a no strings attached way to creatively save money alongside the people you trust. Here is a quick explainer video.
How is Prana different from other savings apps or a savings account?
Prana is a community-based savings app where you don’t save alone. The peer support keeps you on track with regards to putting money away and gives you the freedom to take out your savings earlier for a short term financial need like a medical bill or a vacation.
How much money can I save using Prana?
This depends on the number of people you start a Prana Circle with and how much everyone contributes. For example, a group of 11 members contributing $100/wk would mean your payout or savings would amount to $1000.
For the beta, individual contributions per week or month need to be between $50-$250 and the group size needs to be between 3-6 members.
What is a use case scenario for Prana?
Here is an example of what a typical Prana Circle could look like:
Anna would like to save some money towards a vacation in the summer. She meets a few friends at brunch who are interested in joining her Prana Circle.
She starts her Prana Circle with 6 friends contributing $500/month and sets her start date which is a week away.
All her friends accept her invite except one. Through Prana’s built in chat, another friend recommends her sister. Anna sends an invite to her friend’s sister who joins Anna’s Prana Circle.
The Circle kicks off on the start date and on each draw date, $500 is withdrawn from each contributing member and deposited after a few days into the receiving member's bank account. Anna receives her payout of $3000 in the summer months and is able to go for her holiday. Since the app is automated, she is able to contribute to her Prana Circle on her holiday.
Anna’s Prana Circle ends with all friends having collaboratively saved $3000 towards different goals.
How do I organize a group or circle using Prana?
Simply follow the setup process in the app. You’ll be taken through the process of setting up your group, verification of your identity, linking your bank account, and inviting other members.
SETUP A GROUP
For setting up your group, please make sure you know how many members you would like to invite and how much everyone would like to contribute.
Verifying identities of all members helps us keep a trusted, secure environment for all transactions to occur. You will need your address, last 4 digits of your SSN and your birthdate to verify your identity.
LINK BANK ACCOUNT
Since all the transactions are automated we ask all members to link their bank accounts. You will need your online banking username and password to link your account.
The last step is to invite other members to your circle and you can do so using SMS, Whatsapp, and email. You will be sending other members an invite code to accept your invitation.
This process is quick and should not take more than a few minutes. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you run into issues. We will reply instantly during business hours (EST) and in sometime during off business hours.
Why do you need all this sensitive information?
We ask for your SSN and address because our payment processor needs to verify your identification. This information is required by our payments processor to make sure everyone is whom they say they are and all transactions are secure. We need your bank information because Prana automates all transactions. This means being able to contribute without having to press a button every week, which would lead to missed payments.
Whom should I invite to my group?
Invite people you trust. These could be your friends, family, co-workers, etc. Please ask them if they would be interested in joining your Prana Circle before inviting them so that they know when to expect an invite.
Is there a fee to use the app?
If you are an early tester, a person who is testing the very first version of our app (thank you!), our app is free for you to use for your first group. If you are a subsequent user, we charge a one-time nominal fee per member. This fee is dependent on the size of your group.
What if people I invite do not accept my invite.
We cancel groups that are not full before their start date so we recommend that you talk beforehand with the friends you plan on adding to your group and invite the ones who are interested in joining. It is advisable to invite more people than the size of the circle, so that you are able to fill up the circle.
How do I link my bank account?
To link your bank account you will have to choose your bank from our list of banks, and then enter in your online banking username and password. You can then select the bank account you would like to link.
Once you link a bank account, the only way you can remove it is by emailing us at email@example.com. We will work on a more automated approach for the future but for now we want to make sure that all members contribute as agreed, especially when groups are ongoing.
Another important thing to note: For now we do not have a way to gauge how much money you have in your account. If your account does not have enough money, you may incur overdraft charges. We recommend having enough money in your bank account for your weekly or monthly Prana contribution.
When do I get my payout?
You will need to select a draw date when you organize a Prana Circle or accept an invitation to one. This will be the day when all other members contribute towards your payout. The organizer gets to select their draw date first. Draw dates are distributed on a first come first served basis for invited members. If you receive an invite and do not sign up right away, you may not get your top pick for draw date.
Please remember that it takes 5-7 business days for the money to clear from your Prana balance to your bank account. This means that you will receive the money in your bank account a few days after your draw date.
How do I know when I need to contribute and when I get my payout?
Once your Prana Circle is full and kicks off, it is pretty much on autopilot. We will send you app notification and emails a day before, and on the day when your contributions are due. This is just for your reference, the money is taken out automatically and moved to the recipient's account.
Similarly when your payout is due, we send app notifications and emails about contribution status of other members and when your payout is on its way and makes it to your bank account. You can also check the Circles > Prana Circles > Schedule/Status to view draw dates and contribution status for each cycle.
Can a member leave midway through a Prana Circle?
All members sign the member agreement before starting their Prana Circle. According to the member agreement, all the members in a Prana Circle have rights and responsibilities to all other members within the group. The main responsibility being repaying their payouts and making regular contributions. So no, members cannot leave midway through a Prana Circle but are welcome to leave before the Circle starts.
What if someone misses their contribution?
Default rates in close-knit circles are low but they do happen. We ask you to check with all the members beforehand regarding their capacity to participate and only invite members who are willing and trustworthy. We will be putting checks and balances in place to counter these defaults in the future version since willing trustworthy members can have an emergency and may not be able to contribute. If you are the organizer then, ask all the members to alert you if they are unable to contribute during a specific draw and then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a participating member and cannot contribute during a draw cycle, please email us directly.