Remodelling the User Experience of Savings Accounts in Banks

I know banks are boring, but does it really have to be that way?

The other day I was eager to buy something, wooden coasters made out of walnut wood, and was searching all over the internet to find it. Amazon, eBay, Etsy, small independent stores, all around the web. There were some coasters that kind of matched what I had in mind, but nothing really hit the spot of what I was looking for.

Being in a mood for spending some cash, yet coming with nothing good to buy, I did a silly thing — I moved $50 to my Savings Account. You know, to somehow fool my brain that I actually bought something.

And that got me thinking.

Why isn’t Savings Account designed to be similar to a shopping experience?

Hold on, hold on, hear me out.

Savings Account is a push experience. You have to be in your regular account, and from there you push some money into Savings. This is different to how people usually spend money. Spending money is a pull experience, in which you go to a store (brick & mortar, or online), and in that store you pull money from your account in order to pay for something. And yes, there are some push scenarios, where you first get an invoice and you push the money based on that invoice, but for a regular Joe Consumer, shopping for stuff is a monetary pull experience.

Therefore, Savings as a shopping experience should be a pull.

But what do you pull for?


What banks should do is create Savings Account Shop, in which users can purchase non-usable digital goods. As the simplest and most straightforward concept, Savings Shop could simply sell incredibly well designed “numbers” or bank notes if you will. You would go into Savings Shop, browse, and buy a $50 note (or however much you are willing to “spend”).

This note would then sit in your collection, and you could look at them and marvel at them. The note does nothing, other than sits and looks pretty.

However, the mental process which happened here is far more rewarding, dopamine injecting one. You didn’t do a dry and boring action of pushing $50 to your Savings. You actually browsed a store and you just bought a thing! And you can see it! You “spent” money to get a thing! Amazeballs!

Of course, you didn’t really spend money, you just added to your Savings.

Then in order to use the money, you could simply “sell” one of those amazingly designed digital artefacts for real money. This mechanic will act a little bit as a blocker to discourage you from dipping into your Savings, as you have to part with an actual (well … digital) artefact. You have to sell something you own in order to spend money.

We can extend this idea further into at least two concepts.

Concept 1 — Cool collectible items

Instead of designed notes which mimic money, you could be purchasing some cool looking things. Perhaps gemstones, diamonds, rubies, emeralds! Think about it, going to Savings Shop could be like going to Tiffany’s. You browse nice gemstones, and purchase them.

There could be themes. Savings Shop for antiques. Savings Shop for designer handbags. Imagine the possibility; banks could partner with Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and users could buy cool looking digital bags (price could be adjusted to match what users usually push into Savings). Want to use that money? Sell your little black digital Chanel bag.

Imagine people actually being addicted to this type of purchasing.

“I bought yet another handbag, what’s wrong with me!”
“Can I see it?”
“Sure, it’s in my phone!”
“Oh you really have a problem, this is the third one this month!”

This would add more flavour to the objects you purchase, and would have a better cognitive effect as it will trick your brain even more.

The whole process could be additionally designed as a shopping experience, as the product could come in a little digital box, and you have to tap it to unwrap it, and then the product pops out. Nice animations, eye candy, sounds, sparkles! Everything we have learned in designing games and in-app purchases, all of those addictive dopamine-hitting models, we could use those. Only, you are actually saving money, not spending it.

Concept 2 — Saving for a particular thing

Imagine that instead of “buying” useless, yet nice looking gems, you are actually purchasing digital parts for a thing you are saving for. Going into Savings Shop, you could be first asked “What do you want to save for?”, and you could choose from a multitude of options. Used car, or new car downpayment, vacation, computer, phone, whatever.

Say you pick a car, and a target sum you are aiming for.

Each time you purchase something from the Savings Shop, your car could be assembled piece by piece. The first $100 you put in would create a wireframe of a car. And as you put more money in — the wheels appear, then the seats, then the doors, then the engine, then the hood, … until you assemble the entire car through “in-app purchases”. Then, guess what, you trade in that digital car for a real one!

And again, banks could partner with car manufacturers, which would enable people to assemble actual car they are trying to save for.

The instant gratification you get as your dream car is assembling piece by piece is way better experience than dry saving of money. Savings should be a rewarding experience, not a chore.

Ultimately, the purpose of this is to drastically improve experience of saving money and perhaps even hook people into doing it. Addicted to saving money, now there’s a thing!