"People don't know what they don't know"
- Madison Watts
During the summer of 2020, I worked remotely as a UI/UX design intern at the Greenhouse Innovation Lab under Elavon, a subsidiary of U.S. Bank. My work focused on developing a solution to closing the racial wealth gap in the United States. 
Throughout our research, we realized that there were two significant issues that the bank could have a stake in to help close the racial wealth gap: community trust and access to basic banking. With stakeholder support and feedback, our team came up with a long term, sustainable solution that complements current U.S. Bank initiatives already in place.​​​​​​​ 

U.S. Bank's Innovation Technology Lab

Project RWG

Initial Research
End of June to Early-July
For the first few weeks of my internship, we researched the underbanked in the United States. We used a collaborative online whiteboard software to gather our findings and create mind maps of our research. Our goal was not to come up with a solution, but to understand our target audience and demographic. Instead of focusing on a solution preemptively, we were instead focusing on empathizing and gathering information on our target audience. We also researched how other banks were approaching the issue, including analyzing market trends and financial laws and regulations. Any personal anecdotes we could find on the issue were key to understanding the personal side of our project, and helped us to recognize how we could better serve the underbanked. Overall, the topic was very complex and nuanced, and we were almost overwhelmed with how much information we found, but we wanted to be as thorough as possible so we could better help those in need.

Research mind map documenting our findings and helping us organize the topics.

Design Sprints
Early to Mid-July
During the next two weeks, we focused on solutioning. Each of us on the team brainstormed our own potential solutions to the problem, and we presented them to each other, providing feedback on the parts that we liked the most. We combined the best of everyone's ideas into a single solution, and iterated on this process multiple times. We also presented our work to various stakeholders, who gave feedback on the parts that they felt were most important. Through weekly showcases, we presented our findings to other interns and members of the Greenhouse team.
After iterating on our solution multiple times, we realized that we were running in circles and kept making the same conclusions. At this point, we felt we could settle on a solution that everyone was happy with and best represented our research findings. From our research, we knew other companies handled the issue by throwing money at the problem, and we decided we wanted to avoid doing that because we saw how little impact it made. Our goal was to create innovative technology that can help the underbanked community in the best way possible.
For our project, we lacked prototypes in the beginning especially compared to other teams, as we focused primarily on research and were presenting our findings. This made us feel a bit worried, since we weren't up to par with the other groups, but towards the end of this period, as we started ideation of our solution, we felt everything coming together. 

Some examples of our proposed solutions that we created during the design sprints.

prototyped Solutions
Mid-July to Early-August
For the final stretch of my internship, we focused on building interactive prototypes and fleshing out our ideas. We also had to prepare our final presentation to executives of U.S. Bank which would determine the ultimate success of the project, and whether or not it would be funded for future application. Since I was the only design intern on my team, I was the lead UI/UX designer for the project. We had many meetings with stakeholders during this time, which required us to iterate fast and change courses quickly. This gave me little time for both prototyping and creating multiple versions of our final presentation slide deck, but I was determined, and I quickly learned prototyping and time management skills along the way. 
Our solution focused on three main points. The first was to utilize niche marketing, which is marketing that targets a small subset of a population. Our research found that this technique is heavily favored amongst the minority target group, but does not negatively impact the majority. Second, we wanted to "gamify" financial literacy in some way, to keep it engaging for the user and mitigate risk to the bank. The final point of our solution was to rebuild connection and trust with the underbanked community. Our research showed that, historically, these groups were marginalized by banks, and had a high distrust of them, so we wanted to rebuild that trust by making financial concepts less daunting.
We created a user story, which described how a potential underbanked individual would find out about our program. We wanted her to be relatable to our demographic, and with realistic goals. We decided on a mixed-race university student who discovers our program through an Instagram post, which we felt was relatable for a wide range of individuals. Through exploring our website, she discovers that this local bank offers lower fees if she completes courses on financial literacy.
She is also able to find a financial mentor through the website, and is able to connect with the person based on their qualities and background. Through this, we wanted to make the experience of banking more accessible and friendly, while also keeping it less intimidating.
Stakeholder Feedback
Overall, the feedback on our solution was very positive, and they especially liked the ability to select a mentor. Some points that stood out were that portraying this solution as mitigating risk sounded offensive, because it implies that certain groups are a risky investment. Additionally, since our solution used Instagram and other social media, they felt it was very focused on a younger demographic. Finally, a good point was mentioned that a prospective individual would already have to understand banking fees in order for "lower fees" to be a suitable incentive.

5 rounds of feedback from project stakeholders and members of the African-American BRG. 

Final Presentation
During my last day, all of the Greenhouse intern teams presented their final demos. We invited all of the stakeholders, the entire Greenhouse team, and everyone who helped us along the way. The CFO of Elavon also attended for the first time in Greenhouse history, making it a tense but exciting moment for everyone. Overall, the presentation went great and was met with a lot of positive feedback and praise. Our research and solution led to the creation of a black leadership council, with Greenhouse becoming part of the council focused on providing innovative technology.
Below are some selected slides from our slide deck for our team's final presentation.
During my time at U.S. Bank, our team researched how to make banking more accessible for those either distrusting or intimidated by aspects of banking. We found that just having a bank account or learning to invest kickstarted wealth building for the next generation. Without this basic knowledge, an entire generation can be prevented from growing financially, which is a big problem within the underbanked community. I'm hopeful that our solution is a step in the right direction and can help future generations.
Overall, my internship was a great experience, and I learned a lot during my time at U.S. Bank. I'm thankful to have been able to work remotely during the pandemic and have opportunities to talk to mentors as well as learn from other interns. 

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