Global Banking Leader


Preparing a Global Banking Leader to Embrace the Future of Digital Payments

When a global banking leader needed to better understand how the meaning of money will evolve with the growth of digital payments, it asked Material to identify key trends and explore whether the digital wallet is just a product – or something that fundamentally changes the way people spend and manage their money.

After identifying initial trends about the checkout experience, the meaning of ‘instant payments’ and consumer and merchant expectations, our challenge was to dig deep into what it means to be a payment provider in a digital ecosystem, how the role of money evolves for consumers when it moves seamlessly and identify ways the bank could improve the experience for both merchants and consumers.

  • To fully understand how digital payments will change the meaning of money, we studied Chinese consumers who have been living in a digital-only financial system for several years, digging deep into the ways humans’ mental models change when living in that environment

  • Leveraged cultural foresight methodologies to conduct in-depth cultural trends analysis of the evolving meaning of money among Gen Z consumers, and identify broader cultural trends in the U.S. and China

  • Conducted in-depth interviews with subject matter experts on digital economies

  • Performed ethnographic interviews with consumers in Shenzhen, China – an affluent, tech-forward city whose consumers have discretionary spending patterns similar to Americans – and in Los Angeles

  • Created case studies to learn from innovative companies (such as McDonalds, Uniqlo and Google Lens) who use WeChat in China to empower consumers to compare prices and enjoy seamless payments and self-checkout options

  • Identified key merchant trends in China and the U.S. (such as challenges with biometric verification at point of sale) and key consumer trends (such as social payments and budgeting by automation) and incorporated them into our findings

  • Delivered a comprehensive ethnographic report illuminating trends related to the future of payments, uncovering strategic opportunities for our client to strengthen its position in this evolving space

This engagement highlighted the merchant roadblocks the bank can solve in the U.S. by delivering personalized customer experiences and streamlined checkout options, empowering store associates to deliver a better customer experience, using payments to drive customer loyalty and maintaining compatibility with multiple payment options. We also revealed the consumer problems the bank can address by using payment gamification to appeal to Gen Z, by enabling consumers to build credit and navigate the chaos of multiple digital wallets and by demonstrating how payments can be used to strengthen social connections.

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