Creating the future of banking

How we helped a challenger bank act more like a fintech out to change the world than merely a bank seeking to "transform."

This small but mighty bank has embarked on an ambitious effort to introduce a new brand to communities underserved by the current financial system — and envision a future role for banks in supporting positive social change.

We need to be at the front of change, fulfilling our purpose while iterating on our future business model.

— Bank CEO

Through our work together, we introduced a new model for doing innovation and designed a portfolio of venture concepts intent on removing barriers to access and expanding social mobility.

New ways of working

Historically, the bank traded in PowerPoint presentations and discouraged the sharing of unshaped ideas. Kicking off the effort just as the pandemic set in, we took this opportunity to adopt a different approach, one that encourages creative risk-taking. With a newly all-remote workforce, we leaned into radical transparency and advanced our work in public, utilizing modern tools such as Notion for content development, Figma for design iterations, and Miro for real-time collaboration.

Research and insights documentation (Notion)

Project co-design workspace (Figma)

Live collaboration session (Miro)

Organizational insights

To understand how the organization is operating today, we uncovered the mindsets around innovation and analyzed the approaches taken towards new initiatives, especially those with a high degree of uncertainty. This exercise pointed to the opportunity costs of the current state and capabilities needed to make bolder moves in the pursuit of future options.

Model for change

In keeping with the goal of reinvention, we sought to create a sustainable model for exploring new opportunities — and shifting mindsets and behaviors in the process — rather than merely advance a one-off initiative. Through design sprints, we settled on an accelerator model that sourced inspiration from the organization, scanned the ecosystem for insights, and translated value propositions into investible venture concepts.

Accelerator model

Creative activation

In search of where to innovate, we turned first to the people in the organization, activating them to generate problems to solve where their passions and the company purpose overlap. To ensure we were anticipating change, we pushed for not only problems evidenced today but also those plausibly emerging in the future. With a bit of inspiration and space to explore, we unearthed 100s of viable ideas that had simply been lying dormant in the company.

Ecosystem mapping

As we sought to validate the problems to solve, we scanned for signals of durable cultural shifts and researched the investment thesis behind new ventures tapping into them. We archived our findings in Notion and created a database of companies organized by innovation plays to serve as an ongoing source of inspiration for new offerings and partnerships.

Ecosystem database

New value propositions

Based on our research and insights, we generated a series of what if scenarios where the bank is well-positioned to bring something unique and valuable to the world. Areas of focus included concepts for predictive homebuying intelligence and decentralized trust agreements — new business models that facilitate the relationships surrounding a financial transaction.

Predictive homebuying intelligence