Changing Lives Through Microlending
Summary & Client Brief
According to data released by the World Bank, more than 1.7 billion people around the world are unbanked and can’t access the financial services they need. SaveForward’s mission is to motivate people to create opportunity for individuals living in underbanked regions of the world. SaveForward is doing this by crowdfunding life-changing loans.
The SaveForward crowdsourcing platform allows socially-conscious millennials to provide funds to borrowers in developing countries who are unable to access traditional banking services. SaveForward works with Microfinance institutions (MFIs) to connect and distribute loans to borrowers that MFIs are not able to fund.
SaveForward already had a web app, however it wasn't being used so they wanted to create a mobile app that would inspire socially conscious millennials and others who wanted to make a difference in the world to use this app but not with savings in mind. We needed to bring some perspective on how a person did not need to be wealthy to make a difference.
From the start of this project, we understood there were clarity issues to be resolved. The whole idea of SaveForward being a savings or lending app was difficult to understand, since in a sense, the user was not doing either. Loaning money would imply that you would be getting interest back on the loan and saving would imply that the user was saving money, however the user was losing value of their money over the time that it takes to receive money back from the borrower.
It was at this time that we realized we needed to pivot towards other ideas to make this app viable. We shifted from the idea of a 'savings' app to the idea of 'spending less' encouraging users to spend more responsibly so they can free up funds to be able to make small loans.
The Research Process
Our research consisted of surveys and CC Analysis. Through our survey findings, we found that the focus of the app should validate the users' social impact through lending, while giving an assurance that their own financial commitments would not be compromised. We conducted a comparative analysis with other Microfinance institutions and crowd sourcing platforms and found that transparency of funds and payment flexibility were two of the key features of importance.
We made affinity diagrams and wrote user stories to help us identify our personas and from there we were able to create a user journey map from our main persona, the frugal student.
We concluded that if the app was to be savings, then savings towards smaller items (instant gratification items) would be best and we would have to expand on rewards and encouragement for these savings. In other words, every time the user thinks about buying small ticket items or impulse purchases, instead the user would loan to someone in need.
This would give the user assurance that they are not compromising their financial situation. The user would feel like they are capable of giving up a small pleasure to help towards something meaningful for people less fortunate. They would feel empowered to lend on an ongoing basis, without having to monitor whether or not they can afford to.
The main challenge was to provide a platform where a willing user had the ability to lend some money to a deserving one. Their main motivations for contributing to microloans is the story of the people they are helping and their social impact, as most of their spending is emotionally driven. Through this app, we designed a system for users to achieve this target on a finger’s tap. This system makes sure that the users are not forced to compromise their financial situation.
Below is our Onboarding wireframes where we designed a clear and concise Onboarding Process from the explanation of the app to the sign-in and how the app works to help the user spend smarter and invest in someone’s future at the same time.
Another part of the app is the dashboard which is where the users lands each time they sign in after the onboarding process. This is where the user would see instantly how much they have loaned, how much they have saved, how many loans they have made, and how many countries they have been lending to. It is here that they can see success stories of borrowers and also see active loans.
Below is a look at our final Design and Solution for the SAVEFORWARD app.
Solution - Creating Intentionally Emotion-Driven Designs.
Onboarding: As we go through the Onboarding, the focus is on making the functionality of the app relatable and clear to the user, especially to users like our main persona, Bethany who want to help others, but feels she is not in a good financial place.
Our focus was on marrying the idea of lending to others, and the idea of spending less on items you want to cut down on buying. We did this with the main dashboard so you can see a summary of how much you saved, loans made, and lives changed.
‘Success stories’ for those who have benefited from microloans, gives our personas a sense of accomplishment that they are part of community that empower those in developing nations. The user can swipe through photos to see success stories. This reinforces the knowledge that these loans do help others, that the user is in fact changing lives.
‘My loans’ allows the user to view the status of all loans.
Progress shows how much users have saved, relative to how much they have lent.
Coffee example: saved 14, lent out 11 so there’s opportunity to lend out more.
My Account shows ‘Deposits’ amounts that have been repaid and can be deposited into bank account. My account or ‘funds’ are listed in three categories so the user can easily view active, pending, and repaid.
Two major settings that can be updated after onboarding — spending and lending categories. Spending settings: can see existing goals or items you want to spend less on, can add goals. Loan categories: current interested categories that will show up in your recommendations, can edit to add new or delete loan categories.
Lending: We wanted to make the first loans ‘recommended’ loans, catered towards the user's loan interests. For people like our personas, Bethany and Hannah who want to feel an emotional connection with the people they lend to, this is a good way to keep them engaged and involved.
When the user makes a loan, the lending screen is formatted in the currency of items they want to spend less on, in this case, instead of buying a coffee, the user will lend to a cause.
Along with the credit card option, we also have the option of lending the money from our save forward deposits, which is money we’ve previously lent out and has been repaid.
The confirmation check out further enforces the warm feeling of helping others, while cutting down on unnecessary spending. It also shows the transparency of risk by showing that 96.7% of borrowers have been able to repay their loans.
SaveForward is currently in the process of developing this app so please watch for the mobile app coming soon.
An update on this project 2022
Diane is a highly skilled and professional designer. She helped work on the SaveForward app design, from start to finish, contributing to user research, copy, UX, and more. We were beyond impressed with the prototype and additional business recommendations we received. I would definitely recommend Diane for any web, mobile app, or UX design projects. She is a pleasure to work with.
Co-Founder & CEO SaveForward
Co-Founder & CEO SaveForward
Want to work with us?