Mobile Banking for Young Professionals

TK Kong
TK Kong
Sep 29, 2017 · 8 min read

Regional banks with deposits of $1B — $5B, are losing to larger banks because they lack thorough digital technology. With approximately 108 million U.S mobile banking customers (Forrester), these numbers are increasing with greater use of smartphones and our fast moving culture. If these banks want to survive, they must go mobile.

Mantl is freeing these banks from legacy technology. As part of my last 1.5 weeks of product design internship, I was tasked with creating a mobile banking experience. With limited time, I decided to explore features that would benefit the end users instead of designing a new mobile banking app.

Standard Mobile Banking Apps

Few Features in Traditional Mobile Banking Apps

Through most mobile bank apps, users may check balances, transfer money, receive alerts, and deposit checks. They may also redeem credit card rewards, pay with digital wallet, check credit score, and find nearby ATM’s.

Understanding People’s Account Managing Behavior

User Research
Because millennials’ mobile banking usage is reaching 70% (Federal Reserve), my goal was to learn why young professionals (ages 21–35) use mobile banking and how they currently spend their money. Here are some key insights:

  1. People are worried about not having enough money to last the month. They mentally calculate if they will have enough by checking their balance.
  2. People are tempted to spend money when they carry their cards on them, so they take money out of their checking accounts instead.

If I have a physical card on me, I’ll just automatically swipe so I made it such that I only have an X amount in my account from which I can spend using my debit card. — David, 23.

Published Research
I read published reports by banks and research centers to further my understanding of mobile financial services. Here are some key insights:

  1. People switch banks if their problem is not solved with the first-contact with the bank (Accenture Banking Consumer Pulse 2015).
  2. People are confused about new features because banks don’t integrate the features within their apps (JD Power).
  3. People don’t feel safe about using mobile banking to manage their finances (Federal Reserve).

Managing Bank Accounts is Hard

I discovered that people struggle to manage their bank accounts — they are worried that they won’t have enough money, confused about mobile banking features, and don’t feel safe about using mobile banking to transfer money.

People want to manage their finances but budgeting is difficult and they don’t trust their spending habits.

Brainstorming Features

Brainstorm Session

Banks want to increase customer satisfaction, retention rate, sale of new products, and money in accounts. With these business goals in mind, I identified two opportunities:

  1. Helping People Be Frugal: How might we better people’s spending habits?
  2. Helping People Quickly Solve Problems: How might we increase customer satisfaction with bank customer support?

Helping People Be Frugal

Because people suck at managing their money, they often hesitate when making big purchases.

Current Saving Methods for Big Purchases

  1. With cash, people designate jars for each goal and put a sum of money per day inside.
  2. Electronically, people mentally calculate the price of their goal and once they have enough in their account, they will purchase it.

Helping People Actually Save Up

Explorations of Saving Methods

Most people receive paychecks at a bi-weekly basis but spend daily. I discovered that B provided the most value because the savings happened seamlessly and maximized the probability of goal completion.

With smaller purchases, people don’t second-guess their spending. How might we help them be more conscious?

Current Preventative Methods

  1. Only place X amount in the debit account so you can’t spend more.
  2. Calculate if they will have enough by the end of the month before the next paycheck.

However, people don’t know if they actually have “enough” with upcoming bills and other payments.

Spendable Balance

People check their account balances before a big purchase. But, their available balance does not accurately portray their ability to spend. Some of that money is for paying rent and bills or saving up for a vacation. So their “spendable” balance is their total balance minus bills and goals. This provides a better sense of purchasing ability.

Making People Conscious About Spending

Explorations for Visual Diagrams

I used to have a spreadsheet of my food, clothing, rent, however I got lazy and it was getting overwhelming and annoying to keep track. — Nicole, 21.

I noticed that people took their transactions and labeled them in a spreadsheet. They would figure out how much they were spending on a category. But, they would stop because they got tired of labeling everything. Thus, users found B most valuable.

But, there is still the issue of awareness — people have to go into the app to see their spending analysis.

Explorations for Notifications

Finance management apps don’t really help me because I don’t necessarily check them before a purchase … only after I’ve already done the damage. — David, 23.

People found A to be the most promising. They liked receiving an alert before they bought goods. This was the preventative method that many finance management apps do not do. Some users liked B — constant updates about their bank account. Others liked F — less frequent notifications on the state of their spending.

Visual Design —Communicating Spending

Visual Design Explorations for Average Spending

D & E are the most clear on information but E has too much emphasis —like I get it I’m above average and I need to be more cautious. — Philip, 22.

People valued how they were spending in comparison to the average, not just the average. D communicated the information clearly and it wasn’t too much in the face; people understood that they were over-spending.

Final Interaction

Helping People Quickly Solve Problems

Good customer support results in a high customer satisfaction. However, many banks have lengthy customer support. How might we create a better experience on-the-go?

Current Customer Support

  1. People go to branches to solve their problems. This experience is personal, trustworthy, and thorough.
  2. People call customer service on their phone. They are often greeted by an automated service and have to state multiple information for verification and may be transferred to different departments.

Creating a Personal Digital Customer Support

Explorations for Support

Looking at how other products created personal experiences, I explored ways that these experiences could be incorporated into a mobile banking application. Through user research, I discovered that people liked A, C, and E. For B & D, people were uncomfortable showing their faces to strangers, and believed that the customer support would be able to solve the problems.

Choosing the Most Efficient Flow

Explorations for User Flow

I first explored A where people can try to find a topic independently. Then, I moved onto B where they had the option of chatting with live support instead of searching. I thought that people may be uncomfortable with talking digitally and wanted to talk on the phone so I pursued C. I also explored D where the user is prompted a chat bot. Balancing business goals and people needs, I landed on B which would decrease the queue on phone calls.

Explorations for Detailed Support Topic

I thought about different ways that someone can view the options once they discover the topic of their choice. After user testing, I saw that people preferred B. It provided them with the necessary information to solve the problem. If confused, they could read the full solution or talk to a person to figure it out. This also aligned with business goals of not having too many people click live chat or calling right away.

Final Interaction


Though technology is advancing, people still have problems with managing their bank accounts. People are using hacks to force them not to spend money because they don’t trust their habits. When they run into problems, they can’t solve them quickly because branches are inconvenient and phone customer support is time-consuming. If banks want to increase the amount of customers, they must provide mobile experiences that are not feature-bloated but feature-supported.

Looking Forward

With limited time, I was able to address the problems of money management and customer support. However, there are still issues with mobile security. With the access to thousands of dollars at the touch of a finger, how might we make mobile banking more secure, both technically and psychologically?

In other cases, banks often add new features on top of the platform which creates confusion for users. Banks must incorporate the features into a simple experience so that users can navigate easily and do what they want to do.

Lastly, banks have so much data about their customers’ behaviors. With new technology and analysis, they can customize experiences and leverage products that would be benefit people.

In the age of mobile-focused technology, empowering regional banks to offer mobile experiences more convenient than those of larger banks will increase customers and conversion rates.

This is a case study for a project I did during my product design internship at MANTL. You can check out more of my work

TK Kong

Written by

TK Kong

Built / Product Design @Facebook / Alum @Cornell

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