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The purpose of the study was to get insights of the financial knowledge, behavior, and attitudes of the young generation of Chinese (Millenials or Little Emperors, i.e. born between 1980-1995), in order to find and exploit design opportunities to improve the financial well being of our target group. Our paper presents an introduction to the research area, the current technological trends, the results of our initial study, and further directions both for research and design of solutions targeted at our tentative users.
We found out that although our respondents were used to make their day-to-day decisions about money usually themselves, most of them see their financial knowledge about or below average. The majority of our respondents would welcome obtaining advice from expert, or friends. This is especially true when pondering buying decisions of products or services. Respondents mostly understand, how interests and inflation works, but are prone to cognitive biases, such as loss aversion. Perhaps given their lower financial literacy most of the students were tricked to provide financial information to scammers.
Děkuji za pozornost!
Financial literacy in China as an innovation opportunity
Financial Literacy in China
as an Innovation Opportunity
Jan Brejcha, Ph.D.
Independent researcher, UX consultant
HCI International 2016, Toronto, July 20, 2016
• Research Rationale
• Financial Inclusion Opportunities
• Design Space
• Competitive Analysis
• Design Opportunities
• Use Scenarios
• Initial Screen Sketches
Research Rationale, 1/3
The purpose of the study is to get insights of the financial knowledge,
behavior, and attitudes of the young generation of Chinese (Millenials, Little
Emperors, Generation 80+90, i.e. born between 1980-1995).
Financial literacy is defined as follows: “A combination of awareness,
knowledge, skill, attitude and behavior necessary to make sound financial
decisions and ultimately achieve individual financial wellbeing.” (Atkinson
and Messy, 2012).
By improving financial literacy we can improve the overall financial wellbeing
of users. (TAFT, Marzieh Kalantarie; HOSEIN, Zare Zardeini and MEHRIZI,
Seyyed Mohammad Tabatabaei, 2013)
To end poverty is a #1 item of the United Nation’s sutainable development
Research Rationale, 2/3
There is also a positive effect of financial inclusion in general: „Financial
inclusion has been broadly recognized as critical in reducing poverty and
achieving inclusive economic growth. (…). Studies show that when people
participate in the financial system, they are better able to start and expand
businesses, invest in education, manage risk, and absorb financial shocks.
Access to accounts and to savings and payment mechanisms increases
savings, empowers women, and boosts productive investment and
consumption. Access to credit also has positive effects on consumption—as
well as on employment status and income and on some aspects of mental
health and outlook.” (The Global Findex Database, p. 2)
Moreover, “[i]n developing economies 110 million adults with an account—5
percent of account holders—are savers but save only semiformally, by using a
savings club or a person outside the family. Designing appropriate savings
products tailored to their needs could encourage these account holders
to use their account for saving.” (The Global Findex Database, p. 68)
Research Rationale, 3/3
“The findings (...) highlight a large proportion of individuals who could
benefit from initiatives designed to change their behaviour. In almost
every country surveyed, at least 3 in 10 respondents exhibited fewer that 6 of
the 9 positive behaviours discussed.” (Atkinson and Messy, 2012:12)
Positively modifying user’s behavior is especially important, because people
are exposed to the cognitive biases of instant gratification and loss aversion,
which prevents them to save, or to save enough for their needs. Also,
millenials in particular face problems of low financial literacy, and of not having
enough money to save.
The research has cross-cultural potential, in that financial attitudes are
cultural markers that can be studied in different cultural and linguistic
environments (e.g., the factor of time and its representation in grammar).
Thanks to global surveys on financial literacy (e.g. by the World Bank, OECD,
financial institutions) we can quickly compare the data across cultures.
Design Space, 1/2
• Consumers are skipping straight from cash to mobile finance. (Oster, 2015)
• While many banked people already use mobile banking in China, the
country also has the potential to emerge as an important success story for
branchless banking and financial inclusion and potentially a new
• Moving forward, there is untapped potential to draw on low-cost, accessible
channels, such as mobile wallets, particularly for younger, technology-savvy
populations and millions of domestic migrant communities that face high
costs in the banking sector.
• New models in agent banking, digital payments, e-commerce, and mobile
money have promise to be transformational, but must be supported by
meaningful products and viable business models to drive a new phase
of technology-enabled rural growth and poverty alleviation. (Shrader and
Design Space, 2/2
• Importantly, the utility financial services through social media could be a
driver to reach the unbanked. New client acquisition, data analytics,
increased lending and group buying are just the beginning of the range of
services that could well result.
• Both Alipay and Tencent have already introduced their first financial-
services products, including investment products or “savingslike” places
to store capital and generate a return backed by leading investment firms,
but with no minimum investment. Millions of clients have flocked to these
sites, forcing banks to adapt. (Shrader, 2014)
• Weixing (WeChat): allows smartphone users to send messages and share
news, photos, videos and web links. By introducing free mobile games —
with virtual items available for purchase — and a payment feature that can
be used online or offline, Weixin could soon develop into a profitable
business with little or no advertising. The company is now experimenting
with use of Weixin to book taxis, hotels and airline flights, and even to
control televisions and home appliances. (Barboza, 2014)
Competitive Analysis, 1/3
A total of 21 app were found and analyzed, including:
• Budgeting (Suishouji, Timi Acounting, Mitira, Pochi Reco)
• Loan (Phone Loaning, Huala Huala)
• Payment and financial products (YiFuBao, Alipay, Wechat Pay,
YiQianBao, Wing Payment, JingDong Wallet)
• Installment (QuFenQi, FenQiLe, UFenQi)
• Finance and investment (Tongbanjie, Jinyuanbao, Borrowing Treasure)
• Aggregation of financial products (Wacai)
• Banking (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction
Competitive Analysis, 2/3: Budgeting
• Total income
• Total expenses
• Budget balance
• This week
• This mouth
• This year
• Daily accounting
• Add accounting
• Take the time
axis, take photos
to account for the
Competitive Analysis, 3/3:
Mobile Application Statement
Based on a modified Design brief template by Microsoft we created a report for
each mobile app containing:
Screenshot: Present and describe the presented icons
Audience: To whom is the app communicating (sometimes also defined
by what the audience has in common).
Product: What is the app making? (functions)
Objective: To define/illustrate/educate/entertain/compel/inspire?
Proposition: What is the single most important benefit? What is its value to
How is the proposition supported (through execution, e.g.,
special design elements, patterns, special engineering)?
Tone: How does the app feel? (e.g., formal, playful)
Style: How does the app look? (e.g., fresh, modern, solid)
Monetization: How is the app financed? (simplified business model, e.g.
Collect full price before download, Free trial versions of paid
apps, In-app products, In-app advertising, Third-party
• We gathered our findings around the main topics of our research: Financial
knowledge, financial behavior, and financial attitudes.
• We triangulated the financial literacy data from different sources: S&P
results (global survey from 2014 with more than 150000 respondents),
University of Economics and the Czech Ministry of Finance (in 2012, 212
university students of non-economic fields).
• The score from students rank higher than the general population in
each of the compared countries. Also, Czech students ranked higher
compared to students in China, which is mirrored in the comparison
between the general population. Our data has thus passed this plausibility
• Insight: They make their day-to-day decisions about money usually
• How might we help the users to get advice from friends?
• Insight: Only around half the users keep a budget to track their income and
• How might we help the users to keep better track of their finances?
• Insight: The preferred method of saving is in cash or in a bank/savings
• How might we assist users in learning to use also other products?
• Insight: Mostly the users would be able to cover an unexpected expense.
• Insight: However, the income sometimes does not quite cover the living
costs, and when that happen, users tend to borrow from family or friends
• Insight: The income usually covers the expenses of 1-4 weeks
• How might we help users build an emergency fund?
• Insight: More than half of the respondents did not have any financial goals,
but the most frequently cited were traveling, buying a house, or a car
• Insight: The financial situation limits their ability to do things important to
them, although most of them are rather satisfied with their situation
• How might we help users to achieve their financial goals by setting a
• Insight: Students will rely on their workplace pension plan together with the
• How might we help users to rely also on private savings/investments?
• Insight: The mostly known and used financial products are bank accounts,
insurance, and mobile payment (wallet)
• How might we help users get most from their money?
• Insight: Most of the students were tricked to provide financial information
• How might we protect the users from being scammed?
Design Opportunities: Financial Behavior
• Insight: Buying decision tend to be pondered carefully
• Insight: The products are chosen after thoroughly comparing different
offerings, mostly according the product information, or by friends advice
• How might we assist users to compare financial products more
• Insight: Although they are willing to take some risk with their money to
save/invest, they keep a close watch on their finances, pay bills on time, and
avoid debt whenever possible
• How might we help users to keep their money under control?
• They see their financial knowledge about or below average, and would find it
helpful to receive some advice
• How might we improve users’ knowledge about finances?
Design Opportunities: Financial Attitudes
Insight statements about attitudes and quiz:
• Respondents mostly understand, how interests and inflation works, but are
prone to cognitive biases, such as loss aversion
• Most budget under 1875 RMB a month, and spend usually half on food
• Entrepreneurs are being admired
• Household finances should be taken care of by wives
• Credit cards are being used, by make sense to pay them full every period
Use Scenarios: Budgeting
While shopping around, Alley found a very special and elegent bag from LV, the price
was as high as ¥5400 for Alley!
She calculated her own income---two thousand RMB every month.There must be
some expenses in daily life, and there not much left. but she extremely wanted to
buy this bag!
• Our findings show there is a need among the young generation of Chinese
students for mobile applications that would help them cope with their
financial matters, and make the most of the money the have at disposal.
The currently available apps in the financial domain does not address all of
the pressing problems our users face.
• Besides a comprehensive functionality targeted at user’s needs (what I
need the app to help me with?), the mobile application should address
user’s aspirations (where I want to belong? Who I want to be in 5
• We believe we can deliver useful, usable, and appealing solutions to our
target group with a thoughtful application of user-centered design
techniques together with semiotics to solve problems of financial
knowledge, financial behavior, and financial attitudes.