Access public financial services, digitally
An app which links a bank account to public benefits programs for lower income families and individuals, removing the need to waste in-person hours on transactions.
Lower-to-middle income families (LMIs) have difficulty accessing benefits provided by the public sector. Those that remain enrolled have to manually travel to brick-and-mortar locations to stay on top of both incoming and outgoing payments, thus wasting a lot of time.
The City of San Francisco was our test location, and it provides benefits like payday “plus” loans and matching programs for child college savings. But these aren’t yet accessible online or linked to financial institutions.
I primarily worked with a local civic innovation consultant through the design process. We knew we needed a dead simple mobile web application (initially) that allowed Android and iOS users to quickly onboard and register their bank and benefits accounts.
So we went straight to the users. "Where are the pain points in the process?" "Walk us through the as-is." In parallel, we set up discussions with financial institutions and municipalities so we could fully understand why this product wasn’t already on the market.
Using the input from users, I built some initial prototypes and vetted them with friends at Ideo.org meetups. Then I worked closely with my friend (a UX grad student working at NASA JPL) to fine tune the eventual mockups. Finally I created a clickable prototype and further tweaked the design to ensure simplicity for users.
We continue to work with banks and city leaders to operationalize a model as we refined the prototype with user groups.
We attempted to partner with Chase Bank and the City of San Francisco but it fell through due to an impasse on the rates given to banks and the interest rates charged to new account holders. We're still actively meeting with both government and financial leaders to get this going.