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UPDATED: 12/07/16 - Banking Buddy Money Penny [Chatbot]

Your new (virtual) buddy and personal finance assistant – the banking chatbot with conversational personality

Photo of Spencer Cappiello
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?

This digital service is geared towards phone users aged 50+, though is accessible and likely useful to all credit union and bank members. This banking chatbot can provide useful advice, context-aware knowledge and friendly reminders to stay on the financial track that will help meet you your goals.

12/07/16 Updates

We recently presented our AI chatbot for users 50+ idea to our design thinking class (led by Anne-Laure Fayard) at NYU Tandon! We received some great feedback and saw some other noteworthy ideas too – if you'd like to view our slide deck, feel free free here:


We designed and created a simple chat website (which can be saved to your homescreen to appear as an app on iPhones via Safari). 

If you'd like to check it out, please visit this link [] on a mobile device for the best viewing experience! There is no actual artificial intelligence at this point since we decided to simulate the 'bot' ourselves on the other end at this phase. You can simulate the bot (typing in grey on the left) by sending the message 'bot' and return to being the user by sending the message 'notbot'. There are a couple specially coded responses if you follow these questions and answers:

  1. Where is the closest Bank of America ATM?
    1. Hey there, Jasmine! Looks like the nearest Bank of America ATM is at 350 Fulton St.
    2. There’s also a branch on wheels arriving nearby at 323 Jay St. in 15 minutes.
  2. Ah perfect, can I withdraw $40 from my checking account at the branch on wheels?  
    1. Sure, tap this link to view a QR code you can scan at their ATM for an easier transaction.
  3. What is my checking account balance?
    1. Let’s take a look… Your checking account balance is $555.55. Need any help saving some money for future plans?
  4. How much do I need to save every month to go to the Bahamas this winter?
    1. Sure, Let me calculate it for you...
    2. If you save $165 every month starting from this month, you’ll be diving in Bahamas next winter.
  5. Can you show me my last charge from Amazon?
    1. The last charge from Amazon was $36.18 for the “New Chapter Bone Strength Calcium Supplement.” Don’t worry, that’ll stay between us (;
  6. What tips can you give me to protect me from financial fraud?
    1. To protect you from financial fraud I found a checklist which you can follow to keep yourself safe and protected. Visit the checklist at or come visit one of our coincerges who would love to go over our fraud satefy guide with you.
  7. Hey Money Penny, I’d like to setup my mom up with a savings account for my son, where do I start?
    1. Sure! That’s a little too complex for me, but tap the video or phone icon in the top right to speak with a representative who would be happy to help you.
  8. Hey MP, can the branch on wheels come to 40 wall st?
    1. Sure thing, it’ll be there in 20 minutes.  

We are very pleased with our product so far and plan to integrate into Co-Ops API Suite down the line to easily integrate into existing Co-Op Apps. Another option we're considering is integrating into Facebook's Messenger platform and plain old SMS. 50+ users know how to text, this is just making managing their banking even easier than ever. 

If you'd like to check out the code it's on github here:

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Accompanying our AI Chatbot concept, we believe a QR-code enabled ATM can allow for ease of use for withdraws, deposits, transfers and other simple account transaction. The QR-TM would have no screen or *bad* touch screen UI, just a QR-code reader and a cash dispenser/envelope receiver slot. The entire transaction takes place in the chatbot interface in a conversational manner (ex. "Money Penny, I'd like to withdraw $40 from my usual ATM in 15 minutes"). For security purposes, these QR codes can expire after X amount of time and only be valid at a specific ATM location. 

Lastly, we believe our AI Chatbot experience can easily integrate into existing banking platforms online and for mobile – seamlessly giving kind, personalized customer service any time of the day from the convenience of the device in your pocket. Conversational banking, a soon-to-be headline in mid-2017...


Original Post


Banking from your phone is nothing new in this day and age, but sometimes your mobile banking app is missing a feature or service readily available by calling or physically visiting a bank teller. Bank Buddy aims to solve this problem and introduce a new way to interact with your bank and its services utilizing a familiar mode of communication – chatting. 

Chatting and texting have become the dominant mode of communicating online, so we believe banks need to catch up. Artificially Intelligent chatbots offer a personalized user experience with access to more knowledge than any one customer service agent could ever provide. We imagine users asking our banking buddy a range of financial questions such from, "What's my checking balance?" to, "How can I save $300 this month for a weekend getaway?" We want this service to exist as a chat feature in existing mobile banking apps AND as a standalone telephone number anyone can text (though we are concerned about privacy with the latter). 

Users can chat with their banking buddy, set personal goals, learn financial jargon and much more. The bot will give useful and contextual advice to each user, and the bot's tone can be set to your liking. For example, the banking buddy will be aware of weather, traffic and operation hours when considering which ATM to direct you to. If the user ever asks a question that baffles the bot, an actual customer service representative can step into the chat, read the conversation history and solve the desired problem. These are just some of our initial thoughts and we are excited to see what the community brings to the table and how users 50+ will react to our bot. 

The genius behind AI chatbots is that every interaction adds to the bot's accumulated knowledge and builds neural networks that can help answer questions the bot was never initially designed to be asked. 

Ideally, our service will exist as an API, part of Co-Ops API Suite (, which will allow for easy integration into existing credit union banking apps. 

One of our biggest inspirations is the app Operator (, which allows consumers to chat with a community or individual to buy goods. 

This idea comes from a team made of Adhish Patel, Jasmine Chabra, Mattie Brice, Shuang Liang and Spencer Cappiello.

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

We plan on user testing this chatbot service with people 50+ to see if they trust chatting about their financial information on a digital interface We also plan on testing which types of personalities get the best responses.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Do you feel comfortable texting/chatting about your financial information? Thoughts on texting vs. chat service through banking app?

Tell us about your work experience:

We are NYU graduate students learning about the Design Thinking process.

Please check all that apply:

  • I'm currently a member of a credit union

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • A student collaboration


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Spencer Cappiello Mattie Brice Adhish Patel  Jasmine and Shuang: Great presentation yesterday! Make sure to update with a few photos and maybe a video of the prototype. 
Check this idea:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi all, thanks for sharing the prototype. I really like how you used a mix of wizard of Oz and scenario-based design to prototype your idea. I think the next steps would be to get more feedback from users and maybe think of more specific scenarios. It will also help you realize how many people might prefer a text-based options. It would also be useful to develop the experience journey (chekc the template I shared in class) as it will help you think of important questions as the one raised by Kate Rushton how will get people to download your app? Good luck with refining the idea.

Photo of Spencer Cappiello

Thanks for the praise. For the relatively short duration of this project, I think we came up with an excellent prototype that can be useful for future user testing. Of course, this idea can be iterated on with improvements such as eliminating the wizard of Oz type bot interaction and the development of the real power behind this idea - the artificially intelligent and constantly learning backend bot language. As for app adoption, porting this hypothetical backend AI tech into an SMS service would help tremendously as would integrating with the Co-Op API Suite so that existing Co-Op mobile banking apps could easily add this functionality. Thank you Anne-Laure Fayard , Kate Rushton and the entire OpenIDEO community. I believe this idea will live on through NYU Tandon's DFA chapter in the Spring.

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