MONARC - 1.28.18 copy

A next generation savings account for the modern millennial



A next generation savings account for the modern millennial


Advisors: Hasan Kazmi (CitiVentures), Roger Mader (Ampersand), Criswell Lappin (Scrollmotion)

Team: Jennifer Wei, Jason Branch



There are over 80 million millennials in the United States, the largest demographic in American history. 

A majority are not saving effectively for emergencies and delaying important life milestones such as marriage and purchasing a home.  Many try to save diligently but with no true purpose or goals in mind.  


As project leader, my challenge was to come up with a solution that addresses how a traditional banking institution can engage with millennials in a way that makes saving an inherent part of their daily routine

My duties spanned everything from in-depth field and secondary research, interviews, surveys, wire-framing, app prototyping, UX/UI, final video, brand identity, app name to ultimately, the final concept and solution.





Amongst the endless sea of fintech apps that exist, MONARC stands out in its simplicity.  A banking app that taps into ingrained existing behavior in order to effectively save money in a fun and painless way.  The ingrained behavior is social media, something that millennials engage in on a constant basis. 




  • 'Trust, relationships and technology' = new holy trinity for millennials  
  • View tech as familiar, easy, friendly, clear and immediate
  • 1/3 prefer Siri or Google for advice, rather than financial professionals
  • Consider trips to a traditional bank branch as inconvenient and unnecessary  
  • Want to bank on their own terms
  • Experiences are much more important than things
  • More likely to spend money on experiences they can document on social media
  • Don't want obstacles to daily habits
  • Communicate primarily via photos, videos, hashtags and emojis
  • They utilize social media to communicate, share & get information
  • Simplicity leads to engagement
  • Great Recession resulted in tendency to spend responsibly but with no rconcretel plans or goals
  • Putting off marriage and other life milestones 
  • Collaborative in nature
  • Willing to crowdsource financial advice
  • Don't overdo the features
  • The more clear and less complicated the idea, the more scale.



"I really like this solution. At Citi, we have been trying to figure out how to change people's behaviors but the MONARC team figured out a great solution that works with existing behaviors to help people save money.  I'd like them to present this to my boss." 

Hasan Kazmi

Head of Strategy & Partnerships at Citi Ventures Global Innovation Network




MONARC connects with your social media apps and counts the number of likes you get on content that you have posted on apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  It then helps you transfer your own hard-earned money into the MONARC savings app based on those daily likes.  


You choose how much you want to save-per-like.  Let's say you want to save $0.10 per like. 100 likes and you have saved $10.  You go about your daily routine, posting as you wish, getting notifications when you have saved into MONARC.




It's YOUR MONEY.  MONARC is a way for you to manage and keep track of your own money.  Set up goals in the app that your money will automatically go to.  The default goal is a Rainy Day fund because our research has shown this is essential.  


Set up a few short or long term goals that you wish to fulfill through your daily routine of posting on social media.  Before you know it, you will have started saving for a fun trip somewhere or a concert or eventually, towards bigger goals like buying a home..




MONARC will help you calculate how much you can save, based on your savings, spending and social media habits.  Using smart algorithms, MONARC will give you the options of saving 10, 15 or 20% of your net balance after expenses and bills.






You can't save more than you have.  Once you choose what works for you, you'll receive notifications on how well you are doing every day.  If you do TOO well and reach your maximum limit for the month, the app will notify you and prevent you from over-drafting. 

If you feel good about your financial standing and like how well you're saving, you can adjust your savings-per-like for next month to save even more. 



Millennials are social creatures, at least digitally, and have a willingness and tools to share their experiences like no other generation before.  Although discussing real dollar amounts is still considered taboo, they are willing to crowdsource financial advice. 


In the MONARC Kaleidoscope network, you will never see actual dollar amounts of your fellow MONARCers, but you will be able to see the progress of their goals.  Encourage each other with emojis and chats and be inspired as you save towards your goals.




By 2025, millennials will make 46 percent of all income in the U.S.  Because of their sheer magnitude and subsequent buying + savings power, there’s a big financial benefit for banks in wooing this demographic and paying attention to their behaviors.  We researched, surveyed and interviewed numerous millennials and gained valuable insights. 

  • 86 percent of the millennial generation are dependent on their smartphones according to a 2017 goEBT report. Their generation relies on phone apps and mobile tools to pay bills, view statements and set up recurring payments.  They want the convenience of real-time updates on their finances instead of waiting for a monthly bank statement in the mail.
  • A 2017 sproutsocial blog post reported that Instagram usage is particularly strong among millennials. 48 million millennials rely on Instagram, skyrocketing to 2/3 by next year.  Instagram currently has over 700 million total monthly active users.  To put this into perspective, that’s over double the monthly active users of Twitter and 3Xs as much for monthly active users on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
  • According to a 2017 GoBankingRates survey, respondents aged 25 to 34 who have:
  • $0 saved: 41 percent
  • Less than $1,000 saved: 20 percent
  • $1,000 to $4,999 saved: 13 percent
  • $5,000 to $9,999 saved: 6 percent
  • $10,000 or more saved: 20 percent
  • The numbers above have increased since the prior year 2016 suggesting that young Americans are beginning to realize the importance of having money saved, specifically in a savings account.
  • According to a 2016 CNBC report, "millennials are prioritizing their cars and homes less and less, and assigning greater importance to personal experiences — and showing off pictures of them." 

We eventually came to the realization that the term under-banked was misleading.  The majority of folks we spoke with were more under-engaged than simply under-banked.  
















“Millennials need to lead their lives with confidence. They need the financial foundations of their lives to be transparent and easy, on autopilot. But since it’s not; because it’s hard and scary and complex and confusing, they think they are just dumb. They don’t speak the language. Hint: fix the process. Simplify the decision. Make the finance an inherent and ideally invisible part of the process.”

-Roger Mader (Ampersand)


"Any ideas need to be easy.  People are not clamoring for a lot of features.  There should be no obstacles to your daily habits or very few.  It should be easy and simple and fast.  Get the message out simply and clearly.  The clearer, less complicated the idea,  the more scale you’ll have."

-Sandra Reilly (Citibank)

MONARC LOGO slice.jpg