PNC Digital Wallet Service Design

"Young people aged 12-19 are big spenders ($179 billion in 2007). A fair number don't pay their bills on time; many rely on their parents to bail them out." Allstate Foundation/Junior Achievement, 2007

Teens need to receive much better financial education. Everyone benefits from financially-prepared teens.

Project Type

Three-month CMU project in collaboration with PNC to reimagine teens' financial education.

My Role

  • Project Manager
  • Service Designer
  • UX Designer

Team Members

  • Likang Sun
  • Arturo Rodgriguez-Reyes
  • Kyle Lee
  • Yuton Chen

Tools Used

  • Sketch
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Keynote

"No one taught me finance!"

In the US, a large percentage of teenagers enter adulthood feeling financially unprepared, inexperienced, and surprised. In School, very few courses help equip teenagers with practical or meaningful personal finance skills. At home, most parents simply cover expenses for their teens rather than empower them to take full responsibility for their personal finance. 84% US college students wished they had learned more personal finance. As many young adults complain, “No one taught me finance!”

Make it real: learn by doing

Managing money and budgeting should be something teens practice from an early stage. People learn best through doing. Managing money for real gives teens a strong incentive to learn. Thus, we created a digital wallet system to help parents give regulated allowances to their teens and have them manage money under supervision. It closely resembles that of an independent adult with income and full responsibility of their own expenses and budget.

Teens Manage, Parents Oversee

Parents and teens first open a joint bank account with PNC, then download Digital Wallet and link it to their bank accounts. With the weekly or monthly allowance teens receive from parents, teens can set up a budget for each spending category, add transactions after each expenditure, and view how much money is left and make decisions from there. Teens can also make wishlists, set up saving goals, and read their monthly performance report. Parents will also receive a teen performance report, based on which, parents can decide if they want to give rewards or deduct allowance for their teens.

Teens Manage Money

Parents Oversee Learning

Digital Wallet allows parents to easily transfer allowances to teens and set up budgeting goals with them. Parents can also obtain a monthly report on teens’ personal finance. They also receive a heads up alert on abnormal spending or money overdraft so they can intervene timely on their teens’ spending.

PNC Locks in Future Customers

PNC can engage teens in a method that adapts as they grow and go off to college and beyond. As teens get their own jobs, they will continue to utilize PNC for all their financial services. In this way, PNC has created a new pipeline for gaining customers through improving on their current household penetration. Through the overall enhancement of the teen banking relationship, PNC can change the landscape of the retail banking future.

How did we get there?

To understand the whole picture of financial education, we started with a literature review, a competitor analysis, and some interviews. We looked at various educational solutions, like school courses, online courses, home education, and blog reading. Given parents are the closest to their teens and they have the strongest motivation in preparing them for a successful financial life, we revisioned our research focusing on interactions between parents, teen, and PNC.

Successful service innovation should address all major stakeholders’ needs, especially their short-term needs. So from there, we started to do more in-depth research including user interviews, persona building, storyboarding, and speed dating to validate the needs of each stakeholder.

Not all observed needs were well received by teens or their parents. According to our persona’s reactions, we labeled the needs as strong, conditional, and weak. We selected the strong needs:

  1. From teens: “I often have the need to save for big purchase goals.”
  2. From parents: “I want to see financial behavior change in my teens.”
  3. From PNC: “I want to maintain my current users while obtaining new users from an early age.”

After validating users’ needs, we voted for 8 ideas from over 120 ideas. We also conducted more concept validations through speed dating and finally picked the idea of a “wishlist.”

Our Poster

Presentation to Clients

"Well done, gaining customers from an early age is very important to us. We are interested in proposing this idea back to the company" —PNC Financial Education Department

Next Steps

This was a very challenging yet meaningful and rewarding project. For every step of research and iteration, we forced ourselves to reshape the innovation space so it is win-win for every stakeholder. When we saw that the “Digital Wallet” brings teens future readiness, parents a full transparency, and PNC a new pipeline of gaining customers, it was very inspiring to us as designers. I learned that a good design solution should be a holistic one that addresses every stakeholder’s needs and improves everyone’s experiences. For our next steps for this project, we are interested in further exploring the possibilities for co- creating value with other potential stakeholders, such as certain teens, stores, schools, and so on.

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