FINJO is a mobile app and personalized banking service that teaches teens responsible financial behaviors using gamification and goal setting

FINJO is a mobile app and personalized banking service that teaches teens responsible financial behaviors using gamification and goal setting


PNC Bank 
CMU Service Design

PNC Bank 
CMU Service Design


1 Project Lead
2 Researchers
2 UX Strategist

1 Project Lead
2 Researchers
2 UX Strategist


UX Strategist
Project Lead

UX Strategist
Project Lead


How can we teach teens responsible financial behaviors using real money while ensuring parents feel comfortable and in control? 

Teen financial literacy is dangerously poor. Research has shown that fewer than one-third of young adults can claim a basic understanding of critical financial concepts like interest, inflation, and risk (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2007). This is especially problematic as it is increasingly easy for young adults to get credit, spend “virtual” money, and accrue huge college debt.


An App that Facilitates a Gradual Transfer of Agency and Gamified Incentives for Teens

Through research, we identified an opportunity to facilitate a gradual transfer of agency (of financial decisions) from parent to teen, starting with helping the teen to save for what they want utilizing a mobile game as an incentive.

Our solution is FINJO, a service that provides teens with three key features: 
1. A Personalized Banking App
2. Gamified incentives
3. Unique savings and checking accounts

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 Milestones Screen

Personalized Banking App

Teens create their own savings goals which are broken into smaller, achievable milestones automatically.

Insight: Long-term savings goals are too abstract for teens, they often lose motivation. 

 Dashboard Screen

Gamified Incentives

Money saved in the real world means money available in the game world using separate game applications.

Insight: 70% of teens (age 15-17) play games. They spend an average of 6 hr/day on mobile.

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 Achievements Screen

Unique Bank Accounts

As teens complete savings goals, they unlock achievements. Achievements mean new financial responsibility -- loans, credit cards, investing.

Insight: Teens most effectively learn good financial behavior when they use real money.

Starts by Making Saving Easy, then Unlocks More Responsibility

FINJO engages both teens and parents to play active roles in the teen's financial journey. The application begins by encouraging the teen to establish and save for customized saving goals, which may be supported by parent matching. As the teen demonstrates more responsible behavior, they can unlock more financial responsibilities (e.g., low-limit credit cards or parent-sponsored loans.)


There's Value for All Stakeholders

By facilitating a gradual transfer of agency, PNC Bank can establish relationships with lifelong, financially responsible customers. Non-Profit Financial Entertainment Organizations can develop a stronger player following and education objectives that transfer to real-life. Teens would be given more financial responsibility for their own decisions. And, parents empower their teens while still maintaining some influence and visibility into the teens’ finances.


Going from Literature Reviews to Designing a Service

Literature review
Exploratory Interviews
Affinity clustering
Concept modeling

Speed dating
Service blueprints


Understanding the Space and Talking to Teens and Parents

We approached the problem by performing secondary research and competitive analysis. Our goal was to understand teens' attitudes and perceptions around financial education. In addition to secondary research, we interviewed teens and parents and affinity clustered to find gather qualitative insights.

affinity discussion

Personalized Financial Education
Financial Education is most effective when it’s related to a teens immediate needs and when they have the opportunity to make and discuss financial decisions.

Focus on the Teen-Parent Relationship
The largest influence on teen's financial education happens when parents and real money is involved. 

PNC has a Gap between Children + Adults
PNC has a large gap in their services and educational materials between early childhood and college students.

Creating Models & Personas to Identify Opportunities

We used our insights and understanding from research to create concept models and personas. Outlining the stakeholder needs and gaps in value exchange led us to identify areas of opportunities to design for.  

Current State Model
Ideal State Model
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Demonstrate Impact of Financial Decisions

How might we help the teen become more aware about the potential effects of spending/saving?

Help Parents Empower their Teen

How might we enable parents to transfer financial agency to their teens?

Encourage Financial Independence

How might we responsibly free teens from always having to ask parents for money and permission?

Generating and Testing Concepts

Our team ran brainstorming exercises to generate over 50 high-level concepts. After grouping similar ideas, we evaluated each concept on how well it met the needs of our personas and opportunities. We narrowed down to three concept scenarios, developed them into storyboards, and conducted speed dating interview with potential users

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Parents want to see responsible behaviors

When kids demonstrate responsible behaviors, parents are more comfortable with giving their kids more control over their financial decisions,

Focus on savings, rather than earning

Teens reported needing help with the money they already have from small part-time jobs, gifts, and allowances. 

Saving for large goals is too abstract

Teens need help overcoming barriers to larger savings goals. Larger savings goals are abstract, and they often lose interest.

Designing the Product and Service Experience

After speed dating, we decided to pull features from different concepts that tested well. To begin designing the experience, we outlined the main features through user flows and a service blueprint. Once we had a better understanding of each of the steps, we created rough whiteboard wires before moving to digital mockups. Due to time, we only created a few key screens that would best communicate the experience. 

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Saving Goals and Milestones

Teens can create and contribute to saving goals, parents can help them by matching their deposits.

Game Incentives for Motivation

Teens can unlock game incentives when they save more. This helps motivate them to complete saving milestones.

Unlock More Financial Responsibility

Teens can reach achievements by accomplishing savings goals to unlock more responsibility. Parents can agree to these responsibilities through PNC's banking services.

Proof of Concept Design Mockups

We spent minimal time exploring potential visual styles by rapidly iterating on a couple of different layouts, colors, and type. To communicate our design, we pick a few core screens to design as a proof of concept. 

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What I Learned by Designing a Service-based App

Map out value exchanges to understand user motivations

People don't do things for free. When there are multiple stakeholders involved, start by outlining value exchanges. You will quickly uncover each stakeholder's motivation in the broader service system. Then find how your concept can create value within the existing system.

© 2021 Radha Nath. All rights reserved.