Mobile Competes with Cash: Designing the Brazilian Wallet

30 July 2013

CGAP’s third Applied Product Innovation project was carried out in Brazil in partnership with Brazil’s second largest commercial bank Bradesco and the design firm IDEO. Bradesco had already developed a prepaid product, but the bank wanted to test whether this product met the needs of lower-income Brazilians and also were looking to improve the design of the product to maximize consumer uptake and financial viability. Bradesco wanted to introduce the first truly innovative mobile wallet in the country to better serve the base-of-the-pyramid. During the 2.5 month engagement, IDEO put together a diverse team with specialist designers, business analysts, human factors specialists and financial sector experts to work on the project.

IDEO targeted a small sample (12 individuals) of well-segmented consumers and conducted in-depth interviews. Patterns among consumer stories began to emerge after a certain threshold of interviews. A variety of prototypes and storyboards were used to gather information in a logical and sequential way depending on how the conversations evolved. These visual tools not only helped consumers have full clarity on what exactly was being discussed, but also allowed them to take a step back and provide a broader perspective by detaching themselves from their personal experiences. This allowed consumers to talk more comfortably about their finances.

The IDEO team, along with a CGAP team and Bradesco representatives, went to Recife --the largest city in the Northeast of Brazil-- twice, first to conduct in-depth customer interviews to understand lower-income Brazilians’ financial behavior, and second to test paper prototypes to gauge people’s interest in the concepts they had created. On the first trip to Recife, IDEO had illustrated 14 potential product concepts and solicited feedback on each one (see images below for example). Reactions were used to refine existing concepts and to create new designs for specific themes echoed throughout the interviews. IDEO tested these new concepts and paper prototypes on the second trip to Recife.

This was a short, targeted and very specific assignment. Bradesco already had a base product they wanted to improve on and asked CGAP and IDEO to help create features that would set it apart in the market. The process generated important higher level insights on customers, a number of concepts that were tested and refined and ultimately, an engagement strategy for the bank.  

We were originally expecting ‘killer’ add-on features to the prepaid wallet but the final recommendation from IDEO was a more complete engagement strategy for the Brazilian market: a carefully thought out strategy to guide customer behavior, drive awareness, increase behavior and build loyalty. IDEO stressed the importance of the ecosystem around the wallet first and suggested features to add onto the wallet at each step of the strategy. The project also helped us learn about the challenges of working with very large commercial banks where product development processes and changes take a long time Even though the bank has taken on some of the results of the engagement; we are still waiting for an official soft launch, which might take longer than expected.

We learned once again a basic lesson: for a branchless banking product to be successful, the entire user experience must be high-quality and carefully based on design principles arising from customer insights. Getting the ecosystem right around a particular product is as important as the product itself. .