Design Thinking Exercise: Whole Bank

Imagine a fictional bank called “Whole Bank” has hired me to help them develop a solution to a fairly common problem its clients have encountered while traveling abroad. Whole Bank wants to stay on the cutting edge and offer what other banks don’t provide yet. When interviewing their clients, Whole Bank found that the current credit/debit card system makes payment while traveling internationally fairly difficult. The bank would like to develop a tool that allows their customers to pay without using a physical card.

The proposed solution lies within their mobile banking app. Carol Holmes of the Whole Bank Innovation Department has asked me to help design a mobile payment platform as a part of Whole Bank’s existing banking app. I interviewed a number of potential users to determine their major pain points while traveling:


Francisco, 21: time constraints, looking for something easy to use // If it’s too complicated I won’t use it. I don’t have much free time when traveling.

Bonnie, 64: security, reliability, and language barriers // Will this app keep my accounts safe? What if my phone gets stolen?

Cristina, 24: security, keeping track of expenses // I don’t like carrying too much cash or valuables on me when traveling. I’m afraid I’ll lose something important.

Jason, 37: language barriers, security, exchange rates, and apprehensive when in an unfamiliar place // Sometimes I’m afraid that I won’t know how much I’m really spending.

I decided to combine elements from Apple Pay and the BoA mobile banking app as a starting point for my design. I really admire the simplicity and security of using Apple Pay. Since users like Bonnie have pain points about security, the fingerprint “Touch ID” for login and payment is a great way to assure them that their information won’t be stolen, even if someone swipes their phone. Touch ID also simplifies the process of sign in and payment, so that this simple alternative won’t annoy Francisco with too many complicated steps. The mobile banking app solves a lot of the concerns I identified with users like Cristina and Bonnie, who worry that carrying too much with them will make them look like an easy target for pickpockets. Using the app also solves Jason’s pain point about worrying about the exchange rate. By showing the price to him in US dollars as well as the currency he’s being charged in, he can be more aware of how much he’s spending. That way he won’t arrive at home to a $1,000 charge for a few souvenirs. Here’s my proposed prototype:

Solving these kinds of problems is not easy. After all, if smaller shops don’t have up-to-date card readers that accept contactless payment like Apple Pay, a mobile banking app like this won’t be very useful. Still, I think it’s a great way to start thinking about how to design a product for a number of different users with a wide range of concerns.