Originated from an OpenIDEO challenge, sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services and Mastercard, the Financial Longevity challenge had more than 134 global entries with 5 winning ideas — one of them was ours.
"How might we create financial services that support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?" Most of the discussions around financial services are around Millennials today; however, those who are 50 and older is driving more financial activities and are clearly underserved.
Our idea was essentially providing service toolkit to empower Credit Union employees so they could fulfill their customers' needs. Moving beyond the OpenIDEO platform after the challenge, I led a team of five designers, continuing to refine the winning idea, working with stakeholders from CO-OP and OpenIDEO, eventually presenting in THiNK 17, Credit Union's annual conference on technology and innovations!
CO-OP Financial Services, Mastercard, OpenIDEO
Below is some press release about this project.
Top Five Ideas Announced for CO-OP THINK Prize 16: The Financial Longevity Challenge
Final Five Financial Longevity Ideas Advance in THINK Prize 16 Challenge
Tandon students collaborate to design innovative financial solutions for baby boomers
THiNK 17 Podcast
Building upon the initial Incubator Idea from the OpenIDEO platform, we continued to focus on the idea of helping "Seniorpreneurs" achieve their financial and lifelong dreams. During this process, we interviewed people who were either the end-users or the service providers.
I was responsible for interviewing people who "work for themselves" to understand what their unmet needs are. The challenge here was to find people to interview. I reached out to almost all the professors, mentors, and friends of friends. At the end, I was able to interview people who own businesses in various stages and sizes. For instance, I spoke to Julian Ehrhardt, co-owner of UsTwo, and Josh Seiden, author of Lean UX — both have owned businesses. I also spoke to various freelancers and career-switchers.
— interviewing a "seniorpreneur"—
The word "startup" and "entrepreneurship" intimidate people who are in the later stage of their career. In their minds, "startup" and "entrepreneurship" are for the 20-something adults, not for them. As a result, even if they want to start something on their own, they are unsure of where to begin. Moreover, they're not looking to start something to scale up but rather just trying to sustain.
Synthesis & Define
With all the insights we've gathered, we consolidated and found patterns of characteristics among the people we interviewed; thus we moved onto synthesizing our personas and designing our user journey.
— synthesizing session —
— personas I designed —
—our service blueprint —
As soon as we finished mapping our user journey, we brought the idea to our stakeholder (i.e. CO-OP Financial Service) and soon realized that not every Credit Union will have a designated employee to run its community outreach program, as we suggested in our service blueprint. In fact, the Credit Unions we interviewed just happened to have more growth and employees which made our service blueprint doable for them. It is however, we wanted to design for ALL Credit Unions, not just a few. We had to pivot and think of a way to make our program work. We used the Business Model Canvas below to helped us clear our path which eventually helped us see the value we could create is a "service toolkit" that will include different programs to be customized for individual Credit Unions' needs.
— business model canvas that helped us realize Service Toolkit is what we should do —
— concept mapping to visualize our service product —
— short skit to demonstrate what our toolkit offers —
Presenting in THiNK 17
After months of research and prototyping, we finally presented our service toolkit concept during THiNK 17 in New York, where all Credit Union executives from all over the nation came to learn the newest technology to bring back to their branches.
— Build Your Business trailer —
— Q&A session after presentation —
— photo with Samantha Paxson, CMO of CO-OP—
After the conference, our immediate next step was to find a Credit Union to pilot our service toolkit. All of our team members, including myself, were doing this as a side project. To push this project to the next level, we would need a full-time employee that runs business development. While we were all very passionate about the project and we also received interests from some Credit Unions, we did not have the bandwidth to run the program. Although this project is discontinued for now, our pitch during the conference served as a reminder to Credit Union executives that there is a need among the age 50 and more who are currently underserved and just with a little help, they could really make a difference!
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