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Empowering the Latinx community: A look at designing Pana App

App Design, IA, Service Design, Financial

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Product
Pana App

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Client
Pana Finance Inc.

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Date
2022


Pana (Pal or Buddy in Spanish) is a mobile banking app for latinos living in the US. It offers a range of financial services, including a bank account, the ability to make transfers both locally and abroad, and a virtual and physical Visa card among other features. What really sets Pana apart is its social banking features, where users can connect with like-minded individuals and build communities, making it easier to navigate the financial landscape and achieve their financial goals faster.

Two screenshots of the Home and Profile section
Here are two mockups I designed for this project

The challenge

Three in ten latinos living in the United States are unbanked or underbanked1. Most of them do not have access to traditional bank accounts due to various reasons such as lack of documentation, language barriers, and high fees from their local banks. This situation makes it difficult for them to manage their finances, pay bills, and send money back to their families in their home countries.

The goal

Pana aims to allow latinos in the United States to open a bank account 100% online and easily transfer money overseas. The goal is to provide a convenient and accessible banking solution for this traditionally underserved community.

My role

As the Lead Design Consultant for Pana, I was responsible for leading the design process for their MVP. I worked closely with the in-house designer to ensure that all design needs were met, and that the final product was visually appealing and user-friendly. My role involved everything from conceptualizing design ideas and creating wireframes, to producing high-fidelity mockups and collaborating on the development of the app.

User Research

The initial purpose of the research was to gather insights and understand the needs of latinos living in the US. To validate the initial hypotheses, I conducted two surveys with a total of 100 participants each and also interviewed stakeholders and target users. One of the key findings from this research was a need for financial features such as salary advance and also the ability to send money overseas and pay expenses for relatives back home.

Screenshot of one of the surveys conducted for Pana
Here is a screenshot showing the survey results. On the left are the demographic data, and on the right are a single-selection question and an open-ended one.

In addition to these financial needs, the research also revealed a desire for social banking features such as a live chat function. As a result, users would be able to get personalized support (NOT advice), build communities around common financial goals, such as saving clubs, and share their experiences and tips online, especially with newcomers.

Benchmark

The benchmarking study included mainly four major competitors in the US: Majority, Seis, MyBambu, and Revolut. In general, it helped shape the initial Information Architecture of the app and provided us with a landscape view of the features it should have from day one, such as virtual debit card, integration with the digital wallets Zelle and Venmo, bill pay, check deposit, etc.

Screenshots of different apps used for the benchmark
Screenshots of various applications utilized for benchmarking purposes

Additionally, we discovered we had a unique opportunity to provide our users with useful material to promote their financial wellbeing and education.

Pain Points

Through our research activities, we identified several pain points that latino immigrants in the United States commonly face when trying to access banking services:

1

Lack of documentation:
Many immigrants do not have the necessary documents to open a traditional bank account, such as a Social Security number or a driver's license.

2

Language barriers:
Many immigrants do not speak English fluently, making it difficult for them to communicate with bank employees or understand complex financial documents.

3

Limited access to physical branches:
Many immigrants live in areas with few or no physical bank branches, making it difficult for them to conduct in-person transactions.

User Persona #1

Natalia

Age 35

Occupation Retail Sales and Bartender

Salary $4.500 / month

Time in the US 2 years

Nationality Mexico

Photo of the first User Persona
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I just want to be able to pay my bills and send money to my family without having to rely on someone else to do it for me. It's hard when you don't have a bank account

Goals

Maria wants to open a bank account that will help her build credit and earn points.

Frustrations

Maria does not have a Social Security Number and does not speak English fluently, making it difficult for her to build credit.

Journey / Satisfaction Map

Chart showing the Satisfaction Map along the journey of the first Persona

User Persona #2

Jorge

Age 29

Occupation Construction Worker

Salary $5.500 USD / month

Time in the US 8 months

Nationality Dominican Republic

Photo of the first User Persona
Quotes Icon

I work hard every day and I just want to be able to save some of my money so that I can achieve my dream of owning a home. It's frustrating that I can't even open a bank account because I don't have the right documents

Goals

Jorge wants to open a bank account so that he can save money and eventually buy a car and a house.

Frustrations

Jorge does not have a driver's license and does not live near a physical bank branch, making it difficult for him to open a traditional bank account.

Journey / Satisfaction Map

Chart showing the Satisfaction Map along the journey of the second Persona

User Persona #3

Ana

Age 44

Occupation Homemaker

Salary Variable

Time in the US 4.5 years

Nationality El Salvador

Photo of the first User Persona
Quotes Icon

I want to switch to a new bank account because my current one has high monthly fees and I want to be able to send money to my family back home more easily and affordably

Goals

Ana wants to open a bank account that has less monthly fees and allows her to send money to her family in El Salvador from her phone.

Frustrations

Ana does not speak English fluently and is intimidated by the process of opening another bank account 100% online and sending money from her phone.

Journey / Satisfaction Map

Chart showing the Satisfaction Map along the journey of the third Persona

The Design

My design goal was to create a financial app for Latino immigrants in the US that was easy to use and accessible. I considered the unique needs of this demographic, such as potential lack of access to certain documents, in order to make the app as straightforward as possible for all users.

Wireframes of the Pana app
A selection of wireframes that I designed for the app

To address all the challenges, I took the following actions:

  • Setting up the foundation: I led the creation of a design system with guidelines and documentation to ensure that the app was consistent and easy to use.
  • Discovery: I oversaw research activities, including interviews, surveys, and worked on design explorations.
  • Prototype: I used Figma to create prototypes that helped us visualize the app's features and functions, test and iterate the designs before handing them over to the devs.
  • Test: I led the team in conducting usability testing to ensure that the app was intuitive and easy to use.
  • Product Management: I fostered a collaborative team culture, encouraging open communication and contribution among team members from different areas such as Stakeholders, Customer Service, Marketing, Development and contractors.
Two screenshots of the proposed section for the Debit Cards within the app
"Two screenshots of the virtual and physical cards section within the app

Takeaways and Findings

Here are some key takeaways from this project:

1

Latinx Focus
Pana's focus on serving the Latino community is a key differentiator in the market. Its bilingual support and resources for financial education are valuable assets.

2

Social Banking Opportunity
Latinos have a strong preference for being able to discuss their financial goals with family and friends, rather than just relying on financial experts.

3

Native Language Support
The ability to do banking in Spanish is particularly important for Pana's target market, as it allows for a more sociable and personal connection.

Now some findings from this project:

1

Latinx Culture
Our market research found that latinos place a high value on being able to discuss financial matters with family and friends in person or even a chat setting, rather than just relying on experts. This preference for a more sociable and personal connection is in line with the strong sense of community that is prevalent in Latino culture.

2

Customer service in Spanish
Additionally, many latinos may not feel comfortable managing their financial needs (direct deposits, checks, remittances, etc.) in English, and being able to do so in their native language allows for a more seamless and efficient process.