Moneybuddy is a digital banking service integrated into the current banking app that allows customers to reorganise their financial priorities and activate new banking modes based on their moods and mental health circumstances.
Yuchi Tina Chu
Independent Project
How can a high street bank help vulnerable customers with mental health issues manage their money better?
This project came from the brief sponsored by Barclays from D&AD. On the macro level, Mental health problems are a challenge for everyone. In the UK, 1 in 4 people might experience a different degree of mental health problems in their life. Also, they are 3.5 times more likely to be in debt than those without mental health problems. Owing to the intricate link between money and mental health, it might become a vicious circle that is hard to escape. In this brief, we aim to explore how digital service design can help the bank's customers, who suffer from different degrees of mental health issues to better manage their money.
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The value of Moneybuddy
Moneybuddy aims to improve financial health and facilitate beneficial behaviours without worsening mental health. Aside from current interface modes provided by the High street bank app, we design two extra modes, called Soar Mode and Nest Mode with extra features to help vulnerable customers to go through the different stages of difficulties. Soar mode is to help people flying up against a strong wind and Nest mode is to protect them like a nest and help eagles fly again soon.

The challenge behind the service

According to research, the interaction challenge between banks and customers can be attributed to three themes: trust, accessibility and communication problems. First, because of the general perception of banks as being more profit-oriented, customers suffer the fear of not being understood or discriminated against which makes it hard for them to start the conversation. Second, it's hard for them to sort out information, and also manage their money logically. Due to this, some people tend to bury their head in the sand and avoid facing reality. Third, they are also sensitive to the way of communication, like the channels and the use of language. The unknown and judgemental sentences could reinforce their fear and cause self-criticism, which becomes a barrier for them to get support. Therefore, to better provide end-to-end support for them, Moneybuddy focuses on designing flexible and customizable interactions beyond a single format.

Redefining financial services for a mental health support experience

Since mental health problems are continuous and complex, in order to avoid disempowering customers, we define the boundaries of support and identify the customers by their behaviours and mental health support stages. In the mental health support journey, there are typically are two stages called self-support and professional support. Therefore, we can group people into potentially vulnerable customers and vulnerable customers. The differences in service are the degree of limitation and frequency of interaction. Therefore, in response to the changing needs, customers could adjust the service just by selecting modes. The details of the design are inspired by suggestions from mental health experts. For example, soar mode leverages activities, like running, to change lifestyle. In Moneybuddy, the design principle is based on the principle of therapeutic relationships, such as fixed sessions, calm colours and non-judgemental language to engage in comfortable communication with customers and effect beneficial change in the customers.
How does Moneybuddy work?
We use credit scores as a reward for personal achievement to empower their beneficial behaviours. (1) Soar mode is an integrated education platform to help vulnerable customers stay motivated. The role of banking is to support customers with inspiration. This mode aims to facilitate a better lifestyle and deliver support resources for customers to self-support. It creates a gamification experience for the learning module and activities module. You will meet a bird friend who will teach you financial literacy during the running journey. (2) Nest mode is an expert-crafted financial tracker. The role of banking is to help customers to achieve their goal and prevent financial detriment. It supports the prevention of overspending and offers accessible and seamless support from the Moneybuddy team. It tailors the service by financial assessment and allows people to reflect on their actions with a cool-off process. Nest mode is to help customers to easily control their money during a mental health support process.
The impact and the future
Moneybuddy creates an opportunity for banking services to better shape the experience for customers in different scenarios. In soar mode, it shortens the time of non-awareness. Before seeking professional support, customers still can learn how to deal with their money problems. In nest mode, the mental and financial assessment can be delivered together, so customers can have their own financial sessions during mental health support. With the collaboration of mental health and financial support, it enables customers to tackle both problems at the same time. Moneybuddy could become a key toolkit and enable the bank to become one of the essential partners in the mental health support ecosystem.
special thanks
Many thanks to my tutor, Jonny Jiang for all the support and the mentoring. To the experts: Dr.Thomas Richardson, Ann Tan,Yung-Huang Chang, Angel Franco, Edward Don Elphson, Molly Phillips, Kate Hollowood for sharing your expertise and experience. To all the RCA teachers always help us a lot To my lovely family members To Jess for helping me with the video. To all friendly people we had the opportunity to interview and collaborate with.

students involved on the project

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