Financial education is the first step to realizing your financial aspirations.
Social Saving Platform
April 2010 - July 2013
Design Lab for Bradesco
In 2010 the Mobile Experience Lab (now the MIT Design Lab) began collaborating with Bradesco, a Brazilian financial and insurance institution. The goal was to aid Brazil's unbanked populations and help those individuals better access financial opportunity in a rapidly globalizing economy.
Brazil's economic history is a dynamic one, and the tumultuous inflation and subdued economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s has resulted in an understandable mistrust of financial institutions. In a rapidly globalizing country a lack of access to financial education is widening economic disparity.
The lab was tasked with understanding portions of Brazil's unbanked population, then proposing and ultimately beta testing solutions. To accomplish this the team spent 2 weeks in Brazil interviewing dozens of individuals, ultimately discovering the value of social relationships, both as resource for financial advice and as a tool for behavior change.
"Research and empathy is the genesis of invention and design innovation."
In a population where 40% were still unbanked, yet the use of technology was common place, the opportunities seemed powerful. What was quickly discovered was that many relied on cash, using envelopes as a budgeting tool. Additionally, we learned that social circles and communities, comprised of both friends and family, would commonly pool resources to help a loved one or neighbor. This could be covering the cost of a new car to replace one that had broken down, or covering a healthcare bill. In this population the power of community prevailed.
"In a population where the average citizen had two cell phones and a computer, 40% were still unbanked."
The final solution, that which resonated most clearly with our target population and met intended project goals, was that of Realize. Realize (a play on the Brazilian currency the Real and realizing your financial goals) was a social platform where users could share financial goals with family, gather advice in closed forums from professionals and support each other in their growth.
In the End:
We spent months researching Brazil's economy and understanding cultural norms; we then spoke to dozens in Brazil's unbanked population, observing financial behaviors.
We discovered the power of community and the reliance on social relationships to maintain financial stability within these groups.
We designed and built a social financial sharing platform, one that when built upon existing patterns of social behavior had the ability to alter the user's financial opportunities.