Mastercard Small Business.

A mobile app aimed at lightening the load for busy small business owners by utilising powerful APIs and machine learning.

  • Role
  • Lead Designer
  • Year
  • 2019
  • Company
  • Mastercard
  • Tools
  • Sketch, Invision
  • Platform
  • Mobile App

The Problem.

In Dublin, Ireland, alone there are over 8,000 small business owners. Of that 8,000, 1,800 of them own more than one business location, often employing multiple staff members spread across a localized area. Because of this, these owners are spread thin at the best of times, trying to juggle multiple business' in an increasingly more competitive landscape.

As result, Mastercard has proposed a solution to free up the valuable time of these independent operators so that they can, as result of increased time, direct their efforts towards caring for their business, employee, and customer needs. With more time and more intelligent insights at their fingertips, the daily struggle of overseeing rosters, event forecasting, stock distributuon and accounting will become a breeze in comparison to the often archaic and distributed existing solutions

From a banks point of view, banks lack sufficient channels to serve Small Businesses, a fragmented by lucrative segment, and are threatened by digital challengers in an open banking world.

The Solution.

What is the solution to this problem you might ask. The Mastercard Small Business Insight Agent application is your answer. For the first time, small business owners will be connected to all of their platforms across all of their establishments, all within one simple to use and unobtrusive application.

Utilizing the power of Mastercard's plethora ofbusiness intelligence APIs, users will be able to simply register can connect their business accounts to popular software such as Plaid, Xero, Quickbooks, Google Reviews, Yelp, and TripAdvisor just to name a few.

Once connected, Insight Agent's state of the art machine learning platform will constantly query and learn based on the small business' workings, alerting owners, only at the most appropriate time, to smart, insightful nudges as to how best manage the future ahead.

For example, Insight Agent might alert a bar owner of an upcoming event in the area next week. But that's not all... It can also tell that it is going to be a scorching day, why not put that Bud Light that you have surplus stock of on special offer, the result of which would leave you in the clear for the upcoming tax submissions at the end of next month.

See? An all in one solution to the ever changing needs of a small business owner.

The Process.

Insight Agent was the outcome of an intensive 3 day workshop held in Mastercard's head office in New York. At the workshop were innovation consultants from Sylon Solutions as well as heads of products and innovation from Mastercard.

After the the idea was looselt fleshed out it was taken back to dublin to undergo a 3 week validation sprint, the outputs of which are as follows: "A prototype, branded ‘Insight Agent’, is a mobile application for Small Business owners, available in a mocked banking application, that delivers relevant and contextual information to help them run their business and access solution providers".

After solution definition, the project team was split into two, product and development. Whilst the development team investigated techinical feasibility, the product team researched and preformed competitor analysis on existing offerings by major banks as well as some left-of-field disruptors.

With knowlegde of the field established, 12 small business owner were interviewed in order to define success criteria as well as goals and frustrations of their current situation. The result of these interview led to the creation of use cases around 3 personas or target users; Graphic Designer, Restaurant Owner, Garden Landscaper.

With use cases to go off and personas to keep at the forefront of decision making, the design phase began. Because of the quick nature of Sylon Innovation Sprints the design phase was extremely agile with lo-fi journeys and screens mocked up, presented to members of the innovation team (some of whom have had small business') and iterated on quickly moving from paper, to Sketch, to Invision. It is important to note that throughout this time, as the developers uncovered more about the feasability of the project, designs rapidly changed based on what was achievable and ethical from a banks point of view.

The final prototype was tested with 250 small business owners between the U.K and US to gain insight into the three most important assumptions the product Value Proposition.

The tested assumptions are as follows:

  1. Small business owners will value a mobile application that provides tailored business insights and relevant recommendations.
  2. Small business owners are willing to integrate their business management tools with the proposed Small Business platform.
  3. Small business owners want the insight platform to be offered within their existing online banking service.

The Result.

The results of the user testing could be sumarised into 4 distinct thematic findings which can be seen below.

The Product is Desirable.

67% of respondents had a positive or extremely positive response to Insight Agent, 93% likely to use the platform if it was made available by their bank.

Reluctance to Connect, Security is a Concern.

Under half (49%) of respondents said they would be likely to connect Insight Agent with their existing business management tools, with data privacy and security was listed as a key issues.

Bank Brand, a Differentiator

Respondents who wanted the application as part of their existing banking service were 10% more likely to integrate tools with Insight Agent than those who preferred it as a standalone app

Cashflow is No.1 Feature

Participants were most interested in the product’s cash flow prediction and invoice management offerings, ranked 1 st or second in importance in 59% and 54% of responses.

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