The financial world is transforming. There are dozens of ways to pay both online and in-store. Meanwhile, commerce is being overhauled by mobile technology: people are shopping on mobile applications, through a blend of physical and digital channels. Mobile shopping is growing fast, but the experience is lacking.
How can we create a service that bridges the gap between physical and digital commerce?
MasterCard has long been known as a payment processing company. However, with digital payments redefining the ways consumers engage in commerce, MasterCard is evolving to think about all forms of commerce.
Our goal is to discover desires in digital payments and create a service that bridges the gap between physical and digital commerce to help MasterCard position themselves better in this changing payment landscape.
22 user interviews, 8 expert interviews, 9 guerrilla research stores, 72 financial competitors, 53 white papers
From research, we found six key characteristics that people desire when making payments, which served as heuristics during our service creation. In addition, we learned that traveling can be a time of heightened sensitivity to payment problems – people especially want things to be easy, but they often aren’t.
People don’t want to go out of their way to complete transactions: the fewer steps the better. People hated filling out long forms, especially on mobile devices, and often avoided services altogether if it might involve a difficult setup.
People want to pay in the way they prefer. “Cash only” was often a deal breaker, and a lot of people had a preferred payment method that wasn’t universally accepted, like Apple Pay. They wanted payment to happen when it was convenient for them instead of having to wait.
It’s important for consumers to know exactly where their money is going. They hate hidden costs or estimates that change during a transaction, as well as items that aren’t described accurately.
People want to feel that their purchases connect them with other people in meaningful ways. They loved being regulars at local businesses and feeling personal connections to places they made purchases. In addition, they often rely on friends and loved ones for financial advice and product recommendations.
Although people we spoke with said they want to make sure their money is safe, they felt that security is the responsibility of bank or credit card companies. They aren’t willing to sacrifice conveniences for added security.
People we spoke with felt that they deserved special treatment for being a regular. They need to know that their actions are earning them extra value and appreciation for being loyal customers.
Using a creative matrix and round-robin techniques, we generated over 50 design ideas which we used as inspiration. From there, we developed 10 concepts, which we translated into storyboards we used to speed-date with users. As a result, we selected three concepts from which to create low fidelity prototypes.
On our two-day visit to MasterCard’s New York City office, we presented our concepts to our clients and Karen Pascoe, head of User Experience. From there, we ideated ways to make each concept stronger. On the last day, we created a preliminary service blueprint for what would later become Local.
Local is a service for travelers who want to feel like locals, and merchants who want to enable digital purchases. It bridges the gap between physical and digital commerce in the context of traveling and exploring cities, experiences that are inextricably tied to commerce. It increases merchant visibility and encourages both consumers and merchants to form new relationships with MasterCard as a service provider.
People who use Local can create Paths – curated plans of activities within walking distance – and share them with the community. People exploring the city can browse and follow Paths to take small adventures. It allows people to feel spontaneous while still having a plan, and to manage their time by ordering food ahead in-app at restaurants and cafes on any Path.
Merchants who integrate with Local can provide their menu and enable ordering ahead in app. They receive detailed analytics about purchases, as well as information about associated businesses. It helps them reach new customers, and provide a seamless order-ahead service that doesn’t disrupt their normal workflow.
Local fosters connection around commerce. It finds natural links between people and businesses, and uses that information to make intelligent suggestions about where users should visit and how merchants can connect better with their customers. In the creation of Local, MasterCard is garnering brand recognition and using their data to enable transactions and create an experience for both merchants and consumers.
A Holistic Look at Local
Local lives in many different places, like iOS, the web, an email–and all of these different contexts have different constraints. We built a style guide to stay consistent across all of these touchpoints. This guide included information about typography, color, and iconography that helped the team stay on the same page.
The consumer side of Local
To test our service with real users, we created a Marvel prototype that responds to input like scrolling and tapping. We later explored how animation would work in the app, so we create a high-fidelity prototype in Principle.
Below are snippets of the merchant product that represent important concepts from the service blueprint. The complete merchant product is found in the prototype below the slideshow.
Complete Merchant Prototype
Merchants signed up with Local can advertise their business by posting our brand on their shop window.
We envision Local being integrated with other applications, like Apple Maps to make the process of adding a Path even more frictionless.
Local strengthens MasterCard’s efforts in digital payments, and more tightly integrates merchants on its platforms. The service brings MasterCard to the forefront of consumers’ minds as a service provider. Local also sheds light on existing MasterCard merchant and developer services. Additionally, MasterCard’s digital wallet, Masterpass, will be heavily featured in the app, driving user growth.
From Local, MasterCard will be able to obtain SKU-level data, a data type MasterCard has limited access to. Local will introduce user generated data for MasterCard on top of their existing dataset, from which MasterCard can learn new things from the relationship between the two, leading to valuable insights. Local may also collect transaction data internationally. MasterCard process transactions in many parts of the world but doesn’t receive the associated data for all. Unlocking this data would give MasterCard access to previously unattainable insights.
Our service expands MasterCard’s current core revenue stream by guiding consumers seamlessly from one merchant to the next, enabling more transactions. An additional fee on sales can also be collected. Local would also allow MasterCard to diversify its revenue streams by advertising. Merchants can pay Local to highlight Sponsored Paths. This would help merchants attract more customers. Transaction and user-generated data can also be sold to merchants, investment firms, and market research firms.
"I just spent 4 days in New York, and I didn't know what to do. This would have come in handy."
Throughout our design process, we’ve been constantly testing our ideas with users. We started with speed dating storyboards and later conducted mid-fi and hi-fi testing of prototypes both with our peers and with users we recruited around Pittsburgh. We made sure to speak with both consumers and merchants to ensure we were meeting the needs of all of our stakeholders.
Within the next three years, our focus would be on building features that drive growth and retention for consumers and merchants. For consumers, automatically generated Path suggestions based on transaction history would help lower the barrier to generating content. For merchants, direct POS integration would help eliminate the manual work required to take orders.
Looking ahead, Local could expand beyond restaurants into ticketing for landmarks and events. There is also the opportunity to expand Paths beyond walking distance and embed transportation within the app. We’ve also considered how BLE and NFC technologies can help make the on-Path experience more seamless. Lastly, as VR and AR become more realistic and affordable, they could provide added levels of richness to Path previews.
We believe Local is a bold and exciting step for MasterCard into the consumer-facing service economy, and its combined value for consumers, business, and MasterCard will ensure success. We imagine an initial rollout in a couple of cities followed by an expansion into other areas and eventually into the international market.
Thanks to Andrew Reiskind, Adam Hosp, Kate Chadha, Yuriy Loukachev, Chris Messina, Jodi Forlizzi, Andrew Kortina, and Karen Pascoe.
Special thanks to our clients - Lee Hillman and Bradley Roth, and our faculty advisors - Karen Berntsen and Skip Shelly.
Duration: 8 months
Team: Brent Cowley, Brian Nelson, Sonya Badigian, Weikun Liang