Financial denial. It might not be an official medical condition, but it probably should be, especially in South Africa. We are notoriously bad at saving and households are also deep in debt. It’s because, for some of us, personal finance is a boring topic. Or it seems too complicated to understand, so we put off trying. And the longer we avoid it the harder it seems to take control of our finances.
When they came to us at Sea Monster Entertainment, Old Mutual had all the material, tools and tips to help people get on top of their finances. They had been sounding warnings about the low savings rates in South Africa. But they were struggling against the cognitive block the people who needed to act on the message the most had against it. They wanted us to answer one question:
How do you get someone to engage a topic they are trying to avoid?
The knee-jerk response these days would be to say, "I know! Let's make an app!". But we're talking behavioural change here. To create something that drives the desired behaviours, you have to get inside the heads of the people you're designing for. You have figure out what their motivators are and how to tap into them.
When we did this, a few truths from the minds of the users surfaced: Personal finance can be boring. It's also definitely complex, with no one-size-fits-all solution. And it sometimes isn't fun. Because looking at your finances can be like looking into a mirror that highlights your every flaw in HD quality.
We knew that whatever we created had to accept and respond to these user truths. We couldn't just expect or demand that the power and freedom that comes from being in control of your finances was reward enough to break through the mental block of financial denial. That is how Moneyversity, an educational platform from Old Mutual, came to be.
When users enter Moneyversity, they are met by a neat dashboard that breaks down the content into courses ranging from taking financial responsibility to saving for higher education and more. Each topic has a series of animated courses and tests pitched at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Users are rewarded with stars, badges and certificates as they work their way through them, to keep them motivated and engaged.
The idea is to build up financial literacy. To show users that financial education empowers them to conquer the fear of their own finances, and that the education process can be enjoyable and rewarding. So, as an edtech platform, Moneyversity's big advantage is in its singular focus on the user. It provides a simple, mobile-optimised learning experience responsive to what the user is thinking about the subject matter. It shows them why, when it comes to personal finance, it's better to be looking at your screen than to have your head buried in the sand.