Designing Financial Literacy
Citibank came to Code & Theory to create an incubator where rapid strategy and design could create prototypes for testing. Citibank stakeholders wanted to take advantage of emerging markets being captured by young start ups. Through research, strategy, design and synthesized findings teams at Code & Theory presented Citibank stakeholders roadmaps to MVPs and products that possessed viability in the market.
My impact included product strategy, product design and user research across four different financial products Easy2Decide, Cinder, Boss, & String. Each app had a different target audience, which existed across business or consumer audiences, and had age ranges between 18-54.
Finances For small Business Owners
Financial management is a crucial component of managing any business and managing cash flow can be the difference between a business staying operational or closing down. But cash flow is not the only factor in a business staying afloat, there are other considerations such as lines of credit and loans that can dramatically shift the financial viability of a business. Without a custom built dashboard that consolidates data relevant to financial performance in a single location, small business owners can find it difficult to track and manage the health of their business.
The ability to contextualize the numbers - to turn financial data into insights that drive business decisions - is the gap in the market that Boss was designed to address.
I supported the team through research, contributed questions to probe the motivations and assumptions of testing participants and worked with design and user researchers to document how testing participants performed when navigating the app.
Defining Participants For User Testing
Similar to other projects with Citibank we tested this prototype in an Invision Prototype within a professional lab research facility. This facility hosted the larger product team where behind a two way mirror I documented the findings and synthesized the larger takeaways from research. We tested 7 participants to gain insight into their day to day pain points and understand how they might leverage a tool like Boss.
These participants were New York City based local small to medium sized businesses across a wide range of verticals from a thank you card business, funeral home, restaurant, and an owner of a local coffee shop. With each session researchers prompted business owners to walk through the challenges of operational costs and owning a business in New York City.
A Consolidated Financial Overview
In testing we found one of the most valuable insights to be that many businesses bank with one financial institution, however they don’t have a visualization of their performance. Multiple participants were very enthusiastic about the ability to see a centralized view of their performance and would love to connect everything in one place even if that meant leveraging a third party banking app.
Request For More Personalization
One of the features most requested by business owners was to further personalize their data visualization. Getting into granular details like statements, insights specific to expenses, and detailed insights through push notifications were incentivizing to these businesses.
Loans Backed By Financial Institutions
While some business owners were wary of the idea of applying for a loan within the app, they expressed they would reconsider if the app were powered by a larger financial institution. Several business owners mentioned that they had taken out a loan or considered taking out a loan.
Trusted Banking Institution + Customer Acquisition
It became a reoccurring theme that businesses were open to this app as long as it were backed by a trusted financial institution. I documented a quote from a participant that was insightful about the loyalty to a banking institution and how one of our user testing participants would willingly leave his banking institution in exchange for the features Boss was providing.
This project exposed me to the rapid changes happening within the banking and financial services industry. I gained insight into and a passion for the role design can play in empowering users to take control of their finances and prepare for their financial futures.