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The Savings Card (Update #3: User Experience Map)

Using local shops, post offices & uniquely programmed pre-paid cards to encourage financial planning

Photo of Mansi Parikh
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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Banks/Card issuers (eg. VISA, AMEX, etc): New audience for card usage, New install bases in small stores Square/Stripe/Paypal: Payment processing Local stores/Small Businesses: Develop capability to accept cards, benefiting communities they serve Community members: Encourages savings and creates a saving habit Post Offices: Become the banks Governments: Encourages financial inclusion and increases money in local banks Central Banks: Key to designing the system

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

Community members can pre-pay to "top-up" their cards with a certain amount they expect to spend in the month on staples, food, and household expenses. Any leftover value can either be added to next week's/month's prepayment or added to their own savings account. The local businesses become focal points of this program since they are usually at the centre of community interactions. They exist in both large and small communities and have strong ties to the families they serve.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We can experiment this using coupons. Where families in the community buys the coupons at the start of every week or month (depending on their salary schedules) and tap in a few local stores to experiment with this project

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Do you think this is this viable? How else can we prototype? How can we drive adoption among both community members and vendors? Who should own the platform, govts or banks? Would anyone be interested in testing the prototype? Can governments use this to start a savings matching program?

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

Update #3: Alper came through and how! He's made an awesome slideshow like user experience map which explains what we're trying to do, making the idea concise and clear!

Update #2:I've been exchanging e-mails with Alper who's a community prototyper and is helping me refine the Experience Map. He came up with some really insightful questions based on the Map. I thought others may have similar questions and so I should share my responses with everyone for additional feedback.

Q Why does he need to write down his wife's name? 

He needs to give his Wife's name so that once the account and address verification is complete his wife will receive an add on card that she can use. Maybe we should also ask for the wife's cell number as well so she can also receive updates when they use the card. 

Q Why does he receive digit code instead of using a password?
I borrowed the digit code idea from what the Indian reserve Bank instated recently for online transactions. I believe it is a great way to have a second degree check while a transaction is being made to reduce fraud. 
Also this way the person doesn't have to remember the password so he will be less liable to share it with someone, write it down or store it somewhere where a thief or hacker can get to it. He also doesn't have to rely on memory or have to take any other action since the code is sent to him automatically when he swipes his card.

Q Why does he receive two texts instead of one acknowledging both information? The two texts are from personal experience a little more useful since it creates 2 separate threads in your phone messages, making it easier to track the most recent balances without having to wade through individual transactions but if someone makes a strong case otherwise I am not married to this idea and it can easily be changed. 

Q Why does he need to write Chk BUD xxxx(last four digits) ? Isn't the card already linked with the phone number?
The last 4 digits are another form of privacy protection. So not just anyone can use your phone to check your personal bank balances. This way unless you know the last 4 digits of the card, even if you have the person's phone you can't just shoot off a text. 

Update #1: Experience Map Attached!

We're often taught that saving is a habit. I believe that in order to encourage this habit it is important for people to be reminded through every day interactions. 

The idea I am proposing is hardly novel. It's more a case of repurposing and recombining ideas that already exists. We provide households in underserved communities with with "Pre-payable" cards. On the other side we provide local stores and vendors in the community with swiping machines to accept these cards. 

People who need financial planning the most often don't realize it till they face the consequences which may include not being able to buy daily supplies, not being able to pay for their children's school, etc. So to encourage them to begin planning their finances it's important to tackle the issue right when they receive the money.

By forcing them to consider how much they want to "Prepay" to top up their cards right when they receive their paychecks forces them to consider their weekly/monthly expenses. Therefore the supposition is that when they choose the amount they will have considered what their requirements will be for the duration. 

Running out will send them a signal that they may have planned wrong whereas while overpaying will also send a similar signal they will have the added benefit of directly transferring that amount to a savings account. 

I propose for convenience that these savings accounts be available at the local post offices. Some countries like India have already announced banking licenses for the post offices and these will be crucial to financial inclusion of the underserved communities.  

The local merchants on the other hand also benefit because it forces them to also get into the saving habit since cards means that their money is transferred directly to their accounts. They will also be able to plan financially and consider their expenses for business. 

Many of these communities/merchants this program will serve are present in urban areas where the other strata of society also purchase from these same merchants and they will receive a benefit of being able to accept credit/debit cards from these members as well creating a much larger network effect. 

Governments and central banks can use these accounts to further promote savings by creating matching schemes allowing them to disburse government incentives much more efficiently while collecting population data and measuring the impact of various schemes. This could also cut down the predatory loan programs or loan shark borrowing that these communities are prone to allowing the government to improve the law & order situation for these communities. 

The scheme can further be expanded to include financial education to the users through community outreach programs, street plays and the like. Hence creating a financial inclusion program that can have far reaching consequences. 

While this Public Private Partnership may not necessarily be an easy program to implement I believe the impact  can be immense especially in including those sections of society that governments have traditionally found it difficult to reach efficiently. 


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sergio Marrero

Hey Mansi,

Love to the concept. Have you run any early experiments? If so what have you found? Would you consider the current 'unbanked' population in your target audience or is this more for a population familiar with the current banking system?

Photo of Mansi Parikh

Hey Sergio, I haven't run any early experiments because I don't have the resources to do so right now. I was trying to figure out a way to see if I could at least get some insight from companies doing similar things in India but unfortunately I haven't heard back from them at all.

This is mostly for the "unbanked" population but can easily be adapted to the population currently familiar with banking systems.

Photo of Sergio Marrero

Hey Mansi,

I believe the concept can be prototyped. Think of ways to 'simulate the user experience' as quickly as possible. If there is a person that is low-income and you have access to their card, or you give them a card you can see the charges to, you can set up an alert every time a transaction is made and text them the prompts yourself. This will help you simulate the experience to understand what works with concept before you invest many resources and learn until you have clear evidence it will work.

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