A Mint.com for Mexico or Mozambique A Mint.com for Mexico or Mozambique
A Mint.com for Mexico or Mozambique
Juntos started as a class assignment in the Stanford d.school to design a product for personal transformation. My team began meeting with night shift janitors on campus, who were all first generation Latino immigrants, to prototype tools that would drive feelings of confidence in people’s relationships with their personal finances. It was a fun project, but when the academic quarter ended, everyone went their own way. An entire year went by, yet something about that project remained unresolved for me—it always stayed in the back of my mind.
I reached out to the janitors again. When they arrived, one of them, Karina, told me she had used the tools we had created to track all her money over the year, and that she had saved over $2,000. Seeing her face and what that meant to her, the changed sense of self that she felt, I knew in my core that I had to work on it more—that there was something here that was deeply important and meaningful. That was the moment that launched us into developing the products that eventually evolved into what we do today.
Our company, Juntos (which means ‘together’ in Spanish), makes simple personal finance tools for cash-based households. Our products don’t require any bank accounts, credit cards, or computers—and run entirely through simple text messaging on any phone.
Many folks reading this are probably familiar with awesome products like Mint.com that help us organize our personal finances and achieve our financial goals. The personal financial management (PFM) industry helps millions of people budget, reduce their debt, and save. Mainstream solutions, however, require online banking and the use of debit or credit cards. Connecting to this online data is how they work their magic. But it also means that billions of people around the world don’t have access to products that help them manage their money, as they don’t use online banking or credit/debit cards. Many don’t even have bank accounts or access to computers.
The first tool we developed allows people to keep track of their spending via SMS. Imagine you are leaving the supermercado. Simply text “34.27 COMIDA” to Juntos to log that you just spent that money on food. Text in to see your running totals (in categories like Transportation, Clothing, Fun, etc.) anytime.
Our second (and main) product is sort of like an SMS "Weight Watchers" program for saving. Week by week, users receive cycles of content and check-ins that revolve around the behavior change necessary to get money set aside towards personal savings goals. It’s a very simple user experience, but behind the scenes, we harness behavioral design and the data from hundreds of tests to create product experiences that actually change behavior (which is not so simple). 72 percent of our successful savers report they had never successfully saved before.
In both our products, our biggest goal as a team is to design experiences that change how our users feel about themselves and their money. We strongly believe that if you can change someone’s beliefs (about themselves, what is possible, etc.), changed behavior follows.
Personal Finance and Financial Inclusion
Around the world, technology (especially mobile) and industry innovation is allowing millions of people to open bank accounts and access affordable financial services for the first time. Yet as barriers of access, initially the greatest challenge to financial inclusion, tumble down, technical and operational challenges are becoming overshadowed by design and behavioral constraints. In many settings, mobile banking accounts are being opened by the hundreds of thousands, only to sit empty and un-used.
If access is the first step to financial inclusion, engagement and empowerment are the second step. Huge opportunities exist for personal financial management tools to help drive this second step of global financial inclusion. The way that technology-based PFM products can create experiences that change how people think and feel about their money—in turn changing financial behavior - gives them tremendous potential as a bridge between underserved customers and financial services. When layered on top of other financial products (like mobile banking or micro-savings accounts), they can make those products more successful and affirming for the customer—while at the same time building a better customer for the financial service provider as well.
Wallet image from Shutterstock
The Equalizers For these Brazilian footballing legends, competitive play wasn’t a diversion from societal ills, but a means to redress them. A secret history of the fight for social justice among Brazil’s greatest soccer stars of the past century
The Real Implications of Detroit’s $500 Houses Sometimes the Rent is Too Damn LowThe Real Implications of Detroit’s $500 Houses
Panic Attack What actually happens when cities crack down on sex trafficking during large, international sporting events? Human trafficking activists are out to protect the rights of society’s most vulnerable, right? Tell that to Brazil’s sex worker community.
Teaching Your Finger to Read MIT is developing a ring that might end up transforming the lives of the visually impaired.Teaching Your Finger to Read
Using Problems to Solve Problems Inside Luis Von Ahn's Duolingo Duolingo is teaching you a language for free, while you simultaneously help translate articles for the world. Now the question is, what language are you going to learn?
“Specialization is For Insects” Why experimentation is essential to creative living Selling 20 million albums worldwide doesn’t mean you’ve found your creative niche.
Make More, Waste Less: Five Energy-Saving Projects for a More Efficient Home GOOD and Nest teamed up to bring you five energy-saving projects for a more efficient home.Make More, Waste Less: Five Energy-Saving Projects for a More Efficient Home
Love Songs for the Censors K-pop finds an unlikely stage in Turkey. K-pop’s sugary conservatism is making it possible for Middle Eastern youth to tap into its most anarchic, adolescent passions.
Hello Welcome to a new home for GOOD Magazine GOOD aims to make thought and vision matter, to dismantle conventional notions of good and bad, and to explore the art of problem-solving.
Stimulant of the Masses An interview with liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff. Meet the radical ex-priest who took on Brazil's military dictatorship.
The Professionals What we can learn from Brazil's wastepickers The Brazilian government has built an army of reuse masters, repair geniuses, and recycling experts, and it's paying off.
The Future Of The Toilet In the latest installment of our Half-Baked Design Challenge, we gave some of our most creative friends 30 minutes to redesign the toilet. Their solutions are at once absurd, profound, and probably not the answer to all our problems, so we also rounded up the fully-baked ideas at the forefront of this global sanitation issue.
The Future of Standardized Testing
In the latest installment of our Half-Baked Design Challenge, we gave some of our most creative friends 30 minutes to redesign the standardized test. Their solutions are at once absurd, profound, and probably not the answer to all our problems, so we also rounded up the fully-baked ideas at the forefront of this academic quandary.
Ten Brazilians Outside Brazil on Being Brazilian
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil has shined a giant light on the people of the South American nation of almost 200 million. But, since the early 80’s, the people of Brazil have increasingly been living outside the borders of what is still the fifth largest country on earth. Emigration has increased exponentially.