A research project to get kids motivated in saving and banking.
HSBC wants to increase its market share by targeting kids. How do you design a banking service for them?
From my discovery research, I found that kids needed a creative way of learning about managing money because they wanted to be financially literate. The current ways they've been taught are too abstract or technical.
By developing a mobile banking app where kids can manage their own savings with game-like elements, I will make it easier for them to be financially literate through a practical and interesting experience. This can be verified if users who use the app report saving a greater percentage of their weekly allowances than they did previously, after a month (assumption - financial literacy correlates with savings, in youth).
HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE
This is a personal study.
Banks are looking at the younger population to increase their market shares. That felt like an exciting challenge!
To make kids understand how banking and money work.
Since this was a solo study, I handled all aspects of UX with an emphasis on research and writing.
This study taught me how to work with kids, since they had very different needs from adults. Nonetheless, I was surprised to learn from my own experience that it was best to ask twelve-year-olds questions the same way I would an adult, as they didn't want to be coddled. It was also interesting to learn how kids below twelve preferred a more pastel color palate (as opposed to a bright one) because they wanted to be seen as more mature.
Writing for kids was also a challenge as I had to choose when to use simple words, and when to keep financial lingo (e.g. a word like 'withdraw'). It was also a problem to craft word-picture associations, since younger kids rely more on pictures for comprehension.
UNDERSTANDING THE USER
As the focus is on youth aged five to eighteen, I chose to target the middle group and the edge cases to cover the most ground. The goal was to discover ways to get children interested in saving and banking their allowances through interviews.
Although I was designing for youth, I interviewed parents as well since they were the ones who would initiate the banking service for their kids. Thus, their concerns must be considered too.
“Why isn’t money taught in school? We’re not going to need to speak Latin in our lives. It would be useful to know before we graduate. But make it less math involved. Use simpler stuff.”
BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS
Research is key.
Since I was designing something new for an unconventional audience of kids, the most crucial part of the study was coming up with the right problem to solve. I began by first understanding how kids interacted with digital devices and responded to their environment through secondary research. This allowed me to better plan the discussion guide I made for primary user research later on.
Once the discovery interviews with kids and parents were done, I collated the findings and studied the reasons why kids were interested in certain activities like Minecraft. This step enabled me to design a banking service that would appeal to them. I then evaluated my design choices on four metrics - practicality, fun, education, and business value.
THESE WERE SOME MAJOR LEARNINGS OR POINTS I WANTED TO CALL OUT
Minecraft is king
Nearly every kid seemed to love playing with blocks, whether it was from Minecraft, Roblox, or Lego.
Where does interest come from?
Kids only have an abstract understanding of how banking works. They do not know where interest comes from, or how money moves in the economy.
Money grows money
Parents were not only concerned about their kids saving habits. Rather, they were more anxious to teach them how to spend money and use it as a tool to accumulate more wealth.
Babies need banks
Surprisingly, parents wanted their kids to begin having bank accounts even before the age of five. Some said they wanted their kids to have bank accounts the first week they are born.
Money has value
Parents wanted their kids to learn the value of money. But how can we do this viscerally?
TITLE OF THE CALLOUT BLOCK
Trust the process.
I had a difficult start with this study as I wondered how to begin. Approaching users immediately didn't feel right as I didn't think I could get through to a kid in discovery interviews. Nonetheless, my concerns were allayed after I started speaking to them, and I didn't see the need to change my questions to suit their age.
Also, I realized the best way to deal with interesting problems like this was to step back and dreamstorm solutions (once the problem is well-defined). There is more value in coming up with the right solution to the right problem than in designing the wrong thing.
Overall, it also taught me how to work with kids, and to not underestimate their maturity (or desire for maturity).