Whole Bank Mobile Wallet Case Study

UX behind the modern adventurer and points obsessed shopper

Whole Bank began their quest for a different kind of banking for the modern client out in the small town of Framingham, Massachusetts. Their focus was to offer an alternative to traditional banking by focusing on digital currency and the modern adventurer. What does every banking customer want? To never actually walk into a branch location! If you can’t control your life from your phone, it’s a major inconvience these days- and Whole Bank wants help mark one more thing off your to-do list.

There were 3 resounding issues I uncovered when interviewing frequent travelers who utlizie a credit or debt card:

  1. The cheapest solution is to take out cash in lump sums at regular intervals due to bank fees+ 3rd party international fees.
  2. When traveling through multiple countries, the currency can change every time you cross a border.
  3. Calling the bank prior to travel departure was a poor experience/waste of time.

As a frequent traveler myself, I can relate to ALL of these complaints. When traveling through Asia, an interviewee mentioned that she spent 2 hours in a Malaysian airport trying to get ahold of her bank to let them know she had moved on from Vietnam spontaneously due to a cheap fare alert. Another traveled through Central America frequently, and had to exchange currency several times between Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. Bless the European Union for making it easier on our poor souls. To narrow down my research I decided to focus on my least favorite travel experience- the dreaded call to the bank (awkward small talk, anyone?).

My Design Process

For this exercise we will follow IDEO’s Human-Centered Design and Lean UX Design Thinking process to make sure that the design decisions were supported by user research and feedback.

Since we’ve completed interviews, and defined the problem we can move on to the Ideate stage. For this exercise, we will only see a low-fidelity prototype. I planned to solve this problem by pulling up several reference case studies on ApplePay, SamsungPay, LoopPay, along with some existing OS examples of frequently used and effective banking app layouts. After filtering through all of my interview notes, research, and reflecting on the tone I wanted to convey, the prototype sketching began.

Low-Fi Prototype

After login, user can tap on each section containing the account preview/dollar amount to open further options for each of their account types.
Once the user selects their credit card account a more detailed screen appears (i.e. recent transactions, bill pay). At this point the user can select “SHOW MORE”, a screen will appear with the option to turn off the card (in case of theft/loss), or turn on travel mode. By selecting travel mode ON the bank is notified of the location change. From here you can also enter a travel itinerary.
After selecting travel itinterary (which I probably misspelled a dozen times on these sketches), you can enter a single destination, or multi-destination trip log. For multi-destination trips, a pin will load at each destination on the map allowing you to see your route. This will be extremely helpful for wanderlust backpackers who “country hop” throughout Europe, Asia, etc. on an irregular schedule.
From the “More Options”, found on the top left of the account screen (image 2) the mobile wallet can be accessed. From here you can select the credit or debt card you wish to use and engage by using the fingerprint scanner which is industry standard for quick pay apps. You can also store gift cards and rewards cards here for when it inevitably gets lost on your keychain.


Whole Bank is really onto something here! Money matters to everyone, and making that process easier is always a welcome change. Throughout this process I learned to innovate on what is already known, and to continually rethink everything- never marry 1 design idea. By asking a handful of carefully thought out questions, a series of ideas came pouring out of each interviewee. People love to talk about traveling and all the joys and pains that come along with it! This was a really fun exercise for me, as this is a feature I would love my bank to offer and doing the research and getting to talk about it was interesting and fun.

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