Whole Bank_Design Thinking Exercise

Whole Bank is a small bank based out of Framingham, Massachusetts in the United States. In order to compete with the bigger established banks, they are looking towards more innovative banking solutions to attract customers. A mobile app has already been created where customers can access their financial information and perform tasks like creating wire transfers, blocking lost/stolen cards and applying for a loans. Recently, it has come to their attention that traveling customers have had the following problems using the conventional Credit/Debit System:

  • damaged chip or stripe on cards
  • stores that do not take credit or debit as payment
  • holds on cards during travel for not alerting bank ahead of time
  • excess spending
  • currency exchange when traveling overseas

The purpose of this exercise was to come up with a new payment feature that would solve the problems above with the already existing app. Through research, interviews and ideation I came up with these solutions…

One of the most common problems is the deterioration of the card with frequent use, either the chip or stripe and sometimes both are no longer readable. This is a very big inconvenience, especially during travel. Luckily smartphones are now equipped with NFC technology. All you have to do is take a picture of your Whole Bank card through the app and the information will be stored on your phone. Once stored you can start making payments by holding your phone close to the NFC reader and then entering your pin number or fingerprint on your phone to confirm. No more need to worry about damaged unreadable cards.

When traveling, you’ll sometimes find that some places don’t accept cards as payment, only cash. Within the Whole Bank app you’ll find an ATM search that will show all ATMs that are NFC compatible within a 5 mile radius of your current location. When you reach the desired ATM location all you have to do is place your phone over the NFC area on the ATM and withdraw cash as you normally would.

Aside from the current features of the app I want to add a Travel button. Within the Travel section, the customer will log upcoming trips into a calendar. The purpose of this is to organize and plan your trips and also to notify Whole Bank when you are traveling. This eliminates having to contact the bank prior to leaving and will also prevent them from putting a hold on your account if purchases start popping up in different cities or countries that aren’t home base.

In addition to the calendar you’ll have a separate account strictly for travel. You’ll be able to transfer funds into the travel account but once that trip is in progress, your other accounts will be locked and you will only have access to the funds in the travel account. This is ideal for those people traveling on a budget and want to avoid any excess spending. Don’t worry though, if you need to replenish your travel account you still can, you’ll just have to go through a series of prompts before adding more funds.

Another feature within Travel mode will be the ability to exchange currency. Seasoned travelers will tell you to convert your money to the local currency before leaving on your trip. They’ll also tell you to avoid exchanging money at airports and hotels because they charge higher exchange rates. With the Travel mode you’ll be able to exchange currency as easy as transferring funds, the only difference is that you’ll have to do it at the current exchange rate of the day. This means you don’t have to be worried about walking around with a lot of cash. All you have to do is find an ATM and withdraw only what you need from your travel account.

Currency Exchange feature within Travel section

You can see that the need for a physical card is no longer necessary when traveling. NFC technology enables Whole Bank customers to make payments and withdraw cash using their phones.

This exercise took a long time for me to get done because it was hard to get all 5 interviews. Once I was able to sit down and interview them I was able to gain a lot of insight from 5 different perspectives. As long as I asked the right questions and kept them open ended, I got some good points — ones that I wouldn’t have thought about by myself. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write my findings. One thing that helped me out a little was brainstorming for about 20 minutes. After brainstorming I organized my thoughts by making lists and putting them in the order I wanted to lay them out. I guess I basically used the ideate portion of the design thinking process and applied it to my writing process. Writing has never been my strength but I hope with more practice I’ll get better.

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