March 24, 2017 | Written by: Sanaz Yeganefard
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Over Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th of March, myself and Adelina from ET joined the IBM Interactive Labs to form a team called ‘Bank On Us’. As part of a hackathon, we were tasked by the FCA with creating tools to help break down barriers between financial difficulty and living with mental health problems.
Problem & Persona
People with mental health problems are three times as likely to be in financial difficulty, and being in a position of financial difficulty only exacerbates their struggle. Mental health problems vary drastically in their effects and are often highly cyclical for those suffering, but some of the financial issues that people face include lack of self-restraint, inability to understand complex problems when they are having a bad day and issues communicating. The FCA challenged each team to develop a solution to help people living with mental health issues to manage their money.
Team ‘Bank on Us’ explored ways to help people living with depression. We focused on exploring the issue of overspending during periods of depression. Working with doctors and experts in mental health we developed the persona of Sasha:
Sasha is 28 years old and has been suffering from depression on and off for the past ten years. While Sasha has a rocky relationship with her parents, she has always been able to rely on her best friend from university Anna to help support her through bad patches and considers her part of her ‘Family of Choice’. Sasha has a tendency to go a little over-the-top with comfort-spending when having a bad day; coupled with a lack of a full-time job Sasha’s spending-splurges are leading her into debt which is only worsening her depression.
We created the platform ‘Bank on Us’ to help Sasha by creating an intervention when she needs it. Focusing on the pain point of the cyclicality of her depression we understood Sasha has good and bad days. Bank on Us gives Sasha the autonomy to independently manage her finances when she is feeling up to it, but also the ability to seek support from her friends and prevent herself racking up debt when she’s in a rough patch.
How it works
Sasha sets up a Bank on Us account and logs her personal information and decides the access she’s willing to delegate to people in her circle of trust dependent on the type of day she’s having. We’ve represented this in the simple traffic light formula of Red/ Amber/Green.
This ranges from no access, like when’s she’s having a good day or the ability to intervene on a transaction by notifying Anna and asking Anna to approve it when Sasha is having a bad day.
How would it work? We demoed Sasha trying to get a loan from a payday loans company. After inputting her card details a pop up appears on the screen which checks her mental state. We used the Altmann model to test this but it could also link to mood tracker, biometric wearables or social media data to create a holistic view of how Sasha was in that moment and if she is in the best place, mentally, to make a reasoned decision.
Sasha set her profile to block certain transactions when she is having a ‘red’/ bad day, like a payday loan. Sasha is informed the transaction isn’t approved in a comforting message that she is actually able to write to herself (when she sets up her profile).
If she is in an ‘Amber’ mood, her transaction goes through as planned, but the first named member of her ‘Family of Choice’ receives a message notifying them of Sarah’s transaction so they can help if they believe there may be an issue or she is falling into known ‘triggers.’
If she is a ‘Green’ mood, the transaction goes through without any intervention or notification to anyone.
All transactions are then recorded, categorised and visualised via a dashboard that she can access to later budget and start to build an accurate picture of how her mood affects her spending.
Extensions and horizons
We identified that there may be more effective ways of identifying Sasha’s mood such as connecting with apps on the NHS database or using wearable or visual technology that constantly monitors their mental health in the background, avoiding the need to go through an evaluation at the point of transaction.
It’s not just for people living with mental health problems, we think Bank on Us could be used by anyone to evaluate what impact their mood has on their spending.
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