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Service Design for a Bank: Keep the Change May 18, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in service design.
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A famous show case for a result in user-centered service innovation is the feature “Keep the Change“, developed by Ideo in 2006 for the Bank of America. Ideo is a design consultancy I used to work with.


(image source)

This feature still exists and is describe by the bank as follows (click on the feature in the upper right corner):

When you sign up, every purchase you make with your Bank of America Visa® debit card will be rounded up to the next dollar amount, and the difference will be transferred from your checking account to your savings account. You get to keep the change and grow your savings.

Additionally the bank is rewarding your saving effords by giving you additional money based on how much you are saving.

According to this article, “one year after it’s October 2005 launch, the service had 2.5 million subscribers, 1.7 million of these new accounts.” Unfortunately I could not find any newer numbers, but the fact that the service still exists proves that it is considered successful by the bank.

I think this is a great example for how the close involvement of users leads to improvements in service design. One criteria for the quality of a design solution is to see how people are using it for purposes never imagined by the design team:

For example people are discussing how to take advantage of this program, as e.g. descriped here, where some writer suggest to breaking up bananas and paying one at a time or to stop the pump at a gas station at $0.01. 🙂

Competion is also not sleeping and offering alternative services as described here (with all advantages over the “Keep the Change”-program).

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