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Unearth Insights — making it less expensive to be poor

Every year, the average family of four making an annual income of $25,000 spends $2,400 on their financial transactions. In the United States, the average family spends $2,000 on its most expensive emergency — nearly half a month’s income — and 60% of families experience something like this annually (unexpected illness, car repairs, or other emergency). There are 223,000 underbanked or unbanked households in the state of Minnesota.

Prepare + Prosper, a Minnesota non-profit that fosters financial health and wealth for low-income families, seeks to transform that by helping families build their credit score, understand how to manage money, and build access to high-value banking products including a checking account, credit building tools, and VISA cards. Through a new initiative called fair: Financial Access in Reach, Prepare + Prosper will deliver products to the unbanked and underbanked. The products will have low barriers to entry, no minimum balance requirements, low and transparent pricing, easy access, and will be FDIC insured. The products seek to fundamentally change the access points and resources for low-income people.

Screenshot of Fair Financial app.

Accelerating Innovation

bswing facilitated co-design workshops to include the consumers who will be served by the products. In addition, the workshop drew from the knowledge of financial services providers, foundations, experts in credit to rethink what the experience of the low-income consumer could look like. The objective of the workshop was to focus on how to distribute the products (what channels, who is trusted, what is our promise); adoption or making a product suite that people will use that improves their financial health; and adherence or creating stickiness so that the individuals and families benefit from their investments of time, money and energy to create credit and build wealth.

Over the course of the day, we prototyped distribution and adoption challenges to help FAIR begin to take form. The workshop supercharged a diverse team and began to find solutions to the needs articulated by participants. By listening and empathy mapping, we understood the needs and challenges of participants so that we could move into solutions that directly addressed their perspectives. The core themes that emerged will drive the product development and attraction models. Early prototypes were created to help bring the vision to life.

Photograph of people sitting around a table at a design workshop.