Based on our discussion with a physics professor, we realized an unmet need of the elderly: many 50+ customers are immobile and getting to the bank may not be feasible on a regular basis. Additionally, Credit Unions tend to have less branches than regular banks, thus making financial errands extremely inconvenient to run for customers.
For our final idea we focused on creating accessibility and convenience for our customers. We came up with “Branch on Wheels”, a mobile banking system that allows customers to have their financial errands delivered to their door or to their neighborhood. Branch on Wheels can be structured in two ways, which we are still debating:
- The “Uber for…” – a customer visits a website, app, or makes a phone call to request for a bank truck to come by a certain location (e.g. their house or work) and at a certain time. That way, they can run errands such as a cash withdrawal, speaking to a financial advisor, and depositing a check, right by their house. The truck would either look like a minivan or a UPS truck with the CO-OP and Mastercard logos painted outside, and it would have an ATM machine, a working station for a financial advisor and a community events bulletin board inside of it.
- The Semi-mobile Branch on Wheels – branded trucks would move around town at selected locations (e.g. supermarket parking lot) on a fixed schedule and in areas where there aren’t any credit union branches. The trucks would move to a different location every day of the week from Mon-Sat, then repeat again on Mondays. These trucks would effectively act as bank branches, without the costs affiliated with a permanent location and with the added benefits of mobility and more convenience for the customers. The semi-mobile trucks could also act as a place of gathering for community organizations, or vice versa could “show up” at community events to promote certain services.
Our concept was driven by the insights we outlined above. Our service seeks to address the following areas of concern for customers 50+:
- Convenience - provide customers with a way to easily access their banks without having to leave their homes and at times that are suitable to their schedules
- Ease of Use - with a simple app or website, customers 50+ will have the opportunity to schedule the branch-on-site service without having to fiddle with intricate web processes. For those who don’t have access to a smartphone or computer or who don’t feel comfortable using these platforms, there will be an option to place a phone call to a representative who can walk the consumer through a very simple process.
- Security - customers would be given a resource that allows them to feel comfortable handling their money in their own home versus going out and worrying about being taken advantage of when withdrawing money or other services in public.
- Human interaction - to allow the customer to build a relationship with a representative, a volunteer program could be created where graduate students studying finance or others with banking backgrounds interested in contributing to their communities could manage the service and serve as key representatives. Customers would be assigned a representative who would handle their needs anytime the service is used.
- Community Building - by making the truck come into the community, we could build a more positive image of financial institutions. It shows credit unions are willing to “drive the extra mile” to accommodate the customer and to get to know their community.
**Learnings from Feedback (12/13/16):
After our team presented the "Branch on Wheels" idea, we received really useful feedback from the OpenIDEO team. Our original concept was to provide convenience and accessibility to those over 50. While we believe giving these consumers tools (such as being able to cash checks, withdraw money, make deposits, and complete other banking tasks) they need that can be delivered to their door is an efficient way to break a pain point for those over 50, the OpenIDEO team pushed us to think of other services our mobile branch could provide that would be useful. Instead of just giving consumers the opportunity to fulfill banking needs they can accomplish at an actual branch, our goal moving forward will be to brainstorm how we can use the pain points we learned from our research to maximize customers' experience in a more innovative way.
As we finalize these add-ons, we must also decide whether we want to provide customers with the "Uber" type mobile experience or a mobile branch that moves around neighborhoods at certain times of the day. The feedback we received from OpenIDEO was that there could be value in starting with the scheduled mobile branch based on the needs of the neighborhoods (i.e. providing community meetups for financial resources since the credit unions are not close by). They also suggested that the "Uber" model could be introduced as an add on as it does amplify the convenience factor.