To observe the behavioural patterns of college students(Gen Z) with regard to their financial knowledge and money handling, to help them become financially independent and stable in their early stages of earning.
How this started…
This is my first full-blown project from the research to the prototype, everything was done from scratch. This is a part of a course I took from growthschool. It was a process that took months to complete. We were provided with various problem statements to choose from. And I choose this one:
“Due to the lack of basic financial education, people are unaware of good banking practices, have poor spending habits, and poor control over finances. Every year thousands of graduates get purchasing power without the basics. money is looking for a way to help college students build spending habits and monitor them as well to prepare them for a financially independent lifestyle.”
My very first impression of this problem statement was that I found this very relevant to my personal situation as a college going kid who seems lost when it comes to finance. I had less to none knowledge about the actual field of finance and money, which made this one very exciting and challenging to me. I did absolutely have second thoughts on my choice followed by a long debut with the voice in my head but ultimately came to the conclusion of taking this forward.
Planing it out
Creating a Hypothesis
My understanding of the problem statement is as follows:
So the problem is that many graduates who are now in the position of earning are not well aware of the systems of investing, banking and many of the basic financial structures and practices which are crucial to form good money handling. They lack this skill in a sense as they were never introduced to the topic anywhere in their whole journey of education so far. And as they have just started their careers it is quite difficult for them to understand all of these processes. For this purpose the app zest money is finding ways to promote financial independence in this group of people by helping them monitor their spending and building an efficient way of money handling.
So I started with making assumption about the user behaviour and the processes related to it. I did this to get ahead to start in the topic and make a rough framework for the problem statement to give way to further research.
Also in doing, so I identified some major aspects of this huge field which are relevant to generation z the most, a few of the initial ways that I came up with are:
- The investing sector like stock market and mutual funds. It can be teaching the various ways of analysing the market. Also studying about the different stocks and mutual funds available to the people. The different ways of trading and how to do it.
- It can also be about the general practices about personal finances. In this it will cover the banking practices such as opening a bank account, registering for a debit/credit card. Tit will also have the details about loans and different schemes that the government and bank has for them.
- Going more into personal finances, there is an option about the information on the budgeting and monitoring of the daily expenses. By teaching about the various methods of saving from the smallest of the amount they receive. Also, they will be able to keep track of their spendings.
Assumptions I made
In order to get to a rough solution, I gathered my assumptions together to help me get validation of these in further research process.
- There are many students who get pocket money on a monthly basis to handle their daily expenses.
- At later stages, they would also be earning a small amount of money through internships and stuff as they get close to graduating.
- This money is often spent without any accounting, which makes for poor money handling.
- They often get money in between the month if they are short on it.
- The daily transactions of these users are small amounts (food, petrol, bus ticket) added with some of the more expensive ones (like shopping in a mall, movie tickets)
- But as they are going to be graduated they do seek some amount of financial help for their money, to build good habits for the future and also make note of overspending.
- Here they lack even the basis of the financial world, or they have misconceptions regarding it.
- Which makes them shy away from adapting to better practices in this field.
- Many do wish to do something about this, but are short on knowledge and guidance.
- They mainly use online medium to pay regularly and wherever possible (majorly in cities).
- Also, they are more comfortable with a phone rather than a desktop for such applications.
Now was the time to come up with some basic solutions for the problem statement with the information at hand and no further research done. This would ultimately be used to get validation from research as an existing product would get.it would also help my user in the interview to relate more. So did a little how might we session and started ideating.
- How might we make the students more aware of the financial field?
- How might we encourage them to save?
- How might we monitor their daily expenditure?
This was the initial idea of the solution which I came to on my own after that i and my peers had a group brainstorming activity to together think and add to my solution, which were as follows
- The users can be willing to share their success of saving which can be done through social media with direct sharing option.
- Also, the user will be given an option to post their success on the app itself (like Facebook feeds or Instagram stories).
- The manual writing option can be replaced with a category selection system.
- There can be a referral system to the app.
- Adding an option to make the user a record the money they lend or owe to someone.
- Giving them a cause to save money(ex. to purchase an accessory at the end of t month)
- Rewarding system for the goal completion at end of the month (ex. a promo code)
- The apps like split wise and kab banega crorepati were also suggested for looking at the existing products.
And I did implement most of these suggestions to my existing solution.
The feature of sharing has been added to the statues bar and can be shared on social media after the completion. And will also have a reward generated.
The referral link option is also given to share it with their friends.
The feature of recording the money they lend or owe to someone is also added, but it may be hard to find at this position.
There is also a reason option just as the monthly budget is entered to make the user make a cause for saving.
Gaps that were identified
- What generally drives the user to star saving of their money.
- How much is the use of UPI mode of payment among the users.
- Will the user like to have a cause based saving system.
- Are the user willing to share their successful goals with others.
- Do they want to get information through videos or written articles?
- Would the user like to save on a yearly basis.
- The amount they receive very month is how big
- Is remembering the owed or lend money an issue.
- Is The referral link system relevant to the users.
- Would these many options in the same app be confusing to the user.
- The daily spending habits of the users.
- How financially educated they are?
In search of data
The first thing I search for was about Indian finance system, and to be honest it went straight over my head with all the terms and process it was very hard to navigate through the huge data. So I then scoped down my search and googled information on topic like “spending behaviour of college students” and “how well are students financially educated?” and so on.
“Millennials, especially college-going Indian youths and new jobholders, are ambitious, irrespective of the gender, they aspire to fulfil wish-list they make without waiting for 5–10 years. The 22–36 years old are the pro-credit generation; they follow their instincts while making purchases, be it big or small,” said Satyam Kumar, CEO & co-founder of LoanTap.In fact, they seek instant gratification in almost all their day to day transactions”
Creating a survey
to now even further validate my previous assumptions made and the new-found data, I created a survey to get the overall feel of the user behaviour and also to shortlist potential users for the user interview. I also added a little digital card sorting activity for the other respondents, this was my first ever attempt at card sorting, though a little sceptical of the outcome I went with the idea of conducting it and as a plan B would discard, if it did not produce any result.
About the card sorting scenario…
As the user started doing the card sort by themselves, it proved out to be very difficult for them to understand and practice the concept of the whole process.
So I added more to the instructions and also provided them with an example, but it still was quite difficult for them. So there, the card sorting did not work out as planned.
And as the process needs much more than the number of people I planned to interview I could not conduct the card sort for the one on one interview as that data would be very small in amount to analyse and validate any assumptions or the hypothesis made by me.
so i decided to stick to the user interviews for the primary research.
Talking to the users
Now that I had a few users selected for the interviews I began to look onto my assumptions made previously and also the hypothesis also the gaps that were identified. I used all of this information to make a questionnaire for the interviews
Based on the desk and comparative research done, this is the list of questions I have prepared for the interview to get validation from real users.
- How is your approach to remember lend and owed money?
- What is your monthly budget generally?
- If you do add up, how much generally?
- How do you feel about having goal/ rearward for saving?
- How do you feel about sharing your completed goal with your friends?
- Would a monthly goal or a yearly goal more suitable?
- How do you feel about the expenses you make?
- How do you approach saving money?
- What would you say take the biggest amount of money in the budget?
- What do you feel about the amount of knowledge you possess in the finances?
- What has been your approach to this Field?
- Would you want to dive deeper?
- What is your approach towards tracking your expenses?
- Do you get more receipts of the things you spend on?
The outcome of the interviews
The users were not convinced to the need of a money managing or handling app.
“The UPI applications are enough for me to track all my expenses as i very often use it for my payments”
As some of them had already tried hand at similar apps and found them to not be very useful.
On the other hand some just did not prefer the digital medium of the whole solution.
“As I always had handwritten my expenses, I never leaned to any apps for the same purpose”
The users who were nearing their graduation were much focused on the learning more about finances, as they could not gather much information from formal education and had to mostly depend on family and friends.
“I mostly plan to start considerable investing in the near future as I just started working in the corporate world”
After the user interviews
The data I gathered after the interviews were conducted was very contradicting to the approach which I took in the hypothesis for solving the problem.
The Result of that is why I diverged from my original idea and made major changes to the flow chart.
I decided to make a more educational approach to the problem.
And cut out many of the saving and tracking features which were not needed as found in the user interview.
I also thought of attaching the educational videos can act like a tutorial and the user can then use to learn and practice for the real investing and trading they would do in the future.
Grouping the users
After analysing the users and there requirements and the research done so far i grouped them into two.
what are the existing services
The change in my approch lead to a different route of ideas and sloutions, for which i did not have much data. according to the users they did try some services which dealt with finacial litracy and so i started to use some of these too.
Zerodha Varsity is a free online resource geared towards helping people learn about stock market trading and investments. The online resource is owned by leading online discount broker Zerodha. One can access Zerodha Varsity online on the website or through the mobile app.
- The content is highly Layman-friendly and interesting.
- The App version of content delivery uses bite-sized card lessons which are easy to consume.
- They begin with the basics and provide very practical examples.
- The end-of-the-section Quizzes help in revision.
- It’s free!
Zerodha Varsity provides in-depth coverage of major stock market investment topics. The topics are covered in the form of easy to learn, collection of stock market lessons with illustrations.
The parent company Zerodha also provides with many additional servies which can help the users futurher in thier finacial journey.
getbasis is an financial education platform which covers almost all the subjects of finance which is much fouced on educating women.
Whether its to understand how to succeed in your career, what mutual funds to invest your money into or what the best insurance plans are. they provide professional career advice and financial advice.
Starting with short lessons that will help one build the right financial knowledge, to valuable women-only communities to discuss all things money, and finally advice you can trust for all your financial decisions, Basis is a one-stop destination for all things women and money.
So the major question to be resolved was how might we make the user educated in the financial world.
- The information can be given in both the video and article forms as it was conformied in the survey too.
- The user can track there completeion status of any of the subject to keep record.
- The information is presented in small digestable amounts on cards to the users.
- They will also be able to chat with an expert for advice they can trust.
To understand and emphatise more with the user and the userflow, i considered a stituation were the user could possibly by the given solutions.
How will it work
Reiterating on the user flows done while the brainstorming process, the modified user flow, which will help in the designing process so that the design is on point with the solutions and does not lose the path.
Now that the user flow was completed, came the interface designing. I had gone through some apps for the purpose of research earlier, from which I drew some inspiration from.
But to explore more, I looked up other educational platforms and apps, to understand how the content is delivered to users who are there to learn.
Further on for the colours of the application, I considered the Indian centric colour related to wealth, which would be in the family of yellows and gold. In other parts of the world the green colour is related to currency which I also considered.
To begin with the designing, i first hand drew the rough wireframes of the screens and iterated on them.
Once the these were finalized, I then created some low fidelity wireframes on the based designs to make sure that the interface would work.
I proceed to create the final user interface with the colours and other graphics according to the inspiration I had gathered.
The working prototype
- I want to conduct more user interviews for the purpose of more user information and also conduct testing with the users.
- create a page for the expert so, the user can know more about them and feels at ease talking the advice.
- Also look more into other similar services to get to know this industry and the way it works even more.
- A virtual stimulation of an investment strategy or the stock market can be instilled in the application to make the learning even more practical.