The World at Your Fingertips
Today, the world is at our fingertips; we can hover over the Himalayas or wander the streets of NYC without ever leaving the house. But there’s still no substitute for getting out there and experiencing it yourself, and more people than ever before are doing just that.
Money is essential for the journey, but can also be the cause of many problems while travelling. Whole Bank, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, detected that the conventional credit/debit card system has many inconveniences for travelling customers.
Carol Holmes is the head of Innovation at Whole Bank, and is helping the bank to transition from a traditional bank to a more technological, user-friendly company. With this in mind, Whole Bank want to develop a mobile payment feature to be used exclusively when travelling, which will form part of the bank’s existing mobile app.
In preparation for the UX/UI bootcamp at Ironhack, I have been asked to apply IDEO’s Design Thinking framework to develop a prototype in response to Whole Bank’s problem. The first thing I did was unpack the problem (above), reflecting on all the information provided by the client.
Next, I interviewed five users from different age groups and backgrounds, all of whom travel regularly. The following questions served as ‘starting points’ for our conversations.
- How do you normally pay for things while abroad?
- What are the conveniences/inconveniences of using your credit or debit card abroad?
- Have you ever encountered any problems when using your card abroad?
- Do you use mobile banking?
- Do you use mobile pay? If not, would you consider it?
- What features would you like to see in mobile banking?
- Would you consider using virtual currencies?
The interviews revealed the following pain points:
As well as the main pain points identified above, I felt it was also necessary to consolidate all the valuable insights that I gathered during the interview process.
Through this analysis, I narrowed it down to four key issues:
- Transaction fees (fees charged at PoS, poor exchange rates, ATM withdrawals) are the main problem identified by users when using their credit or debit card abroad.
- Travelling customers need better communication with the bank while abroad: fees, exchange rate, ATM withdrawals, keep in touch.
- Customers need educating on how to use mobile pay to encourage a cultural shift.
- Customers need to be persuaded to change their habits and perks can help.
Though transaction fees are the main concern, this is beyond the scope of the new payment feature. I reported this finding back to Carol Holmes, and advised her to explore possibilities to reduce or eliminate these fees. My email bounced (!), but I hope to receive feedback soon, which will then be fed into the design as we iterate.
Initially, I asked ‘How Might We’ questions about the four issues outlined above. This led to a lot of idea generation that will give Carol and her team plenty to think about. However, in order to move forward with developing the app feature, I decided to concentrate on better communication to help create a seamless banking experience while abroad.
Next, I started to develop ideas about how better customer communication could be achieved alongside a card-less payment feature, uniting the client and user ‘problem’. Three options emerged:
- Payment feature for use at home or abroad, with integrated travel extras (e.g. pre-paid travel card, FX information),
- Two separate features—Travel (communication) and Payment, or
- Travel feature that includes both payment and communication features in one.
At this point, I felt that the ‘all-in-one’ travel feature was the solution that I would like to prototype.
My first attempt at the prototype felt quite chaotic. I think that I was trying to solve too many problems in one go. I reminded myself of the problem I had chosen to focus on, and gave it another go.
This time, the prototype was clearer and more directly related to the problem. Excited to see how my users would react, I asked Frank to give it a test run. Here’s how he got on:
Watch this space for the next iteration!
Interviewing users was surprisingly different to interviews I had conducted in the past as a magazine editor. The objective of user experience interviews is quite different, and I had to be careful not to steer the interview or anticipate answers, and to sit back and let the conversation flow. It was actually more enjoyable this way.
Defining the problem was challenging because there was a significant gap between Whole Bank’s ‘problem’ (or brief) and the user-defined problem. I tried to find a solution to satisfy both, but in reality, I think I would have spoken to the client about the users’ main concern (fees), and discussed whether a new feature was the correct response.
Finding my focus was also challenging. My user research revealed several problems, which were all valid. I stalled at this point, as it was tempting to look for solutions for all of them. I didn’t feel ready to select just one for ideation, so I brainstormed around all the problems, which helped me to then select a focus. I am not sure if this was the right approach, but I felt it was necessary to let all my initial ideas flow, before narrowing my focus.