Fintech Equity Product


My team worked with Citi Ventures, our sponsor on a given problem statement and formulated an evidence-based design solution.

My Role

I led the design decision-making based on the user flow, style guides, and UI components in order to create a consistent product design within the team. Also, I crafted an overall brand system and conducted interactive prototyping.

Additionally, I conducted secondary research, 10 stakeholder interviews, co-design workshops with four target users, did research synthesis and produced viable design ideas.


Citi Ventures


Leah How
Esther Lin
Jessica Zhang
Ted Lee


15 weeks

Tool Used

Figma, Slack, Miro, Illustrator, After Effect

About Finana
(Video 90s)

Free credit building & financial goal planning application

Finana allows users to create personalized financial plans and improve financial literacy by participating in community forums, talking with financial advisors, and taking short financial lessons.

Challenge prompt
from our sponsor

"How might we (Citi) develop an innovative fintech product that increases racial equity, expands financial inclusion, and empowers people of color?"


Developed our product through the following four phases: Define, Discover, Design, and Deploy

We moved back and forth among the four phases as the design process was not linear. We needed to go back and redefine our project scope while learning more about our given problem statement.


Problem space

Many low-income people of color use financial services that don't build their credit and cost them more money.

To learn more about the problem space, we took a trip to the Bronx area, to see and experience our target users' living environment. When we explored the neighborhood, we saw a lot of check cashing services that are usually not as present in central Manhattan. These services allow individuals to cash their paycheck without a bank account in exchange for a high fee.

Without access to traditional banking services,

Why does it matter?

Many of our user's long-term financial goals are to own a house, get a better car, or even start a business. All of these goals require a good credit score. 

Our focus

How might we help low-income people of color build or improve their credit scores so that they can plan and make progress towards their long-term financial goals?


Qualitative research

Conducted 10 In-Depth Stakeholder Interviews

We conducted six semi-structured interviews with target users and four expert (community expert, banking representatives) interviews to understand how low-income people manage their money, the challenges they face, and how we can help.

To further understand the users’ financial situation and needs, we tried an activity using Likert Scale during the interview.

After the user interviews, we wrote down transcripts immediately and then moved to the empathy map to highlight the key insights.

Interview highlights

Why don't low-income people of color use traditional banking services?

Other Reasons

Had negative banking experience in their home country

Unable to meet minimum balance requirements

Ecosystem map

Ecosystem Map to Determine Complicated Relationships between Influential Actors and Users

With help from the financial experts we interviewed, we were able to better understand the complicated relationships between various actors who possess social, financial, informational influences on the user.

Click on the image to enlarge


Design principles

Co-created four design principles that served as the core values of our design with the help of Qualitas of Life

We talked to an expert in the field, Qualitas of Life. They have provided financial education workshops to the Latinx community for 14 years as a non-profit organization. With their extensive knowledge and experience in the field, we co-created these four design principles that catered to the community’s pain points.

Interview with Qualitas of Life

Four design principles


Brainstormed some potential features to solve the challenges users face based on the four design principles

Potential features are: how to sign up with minimum identification requirements, how to make a personalized plan, how to engage in the online community forum; and how we can provide financial resources.

Click on the image to enlarge

Co-design workshop

Verified our ideas to the target users

We hosted a co-design workshop with four target users remotely to verify whether our ideas are useful or viable for them. We could discover potential opportunities and identify their priorities.

Click on the image to enlarge

Information architecture


Support multiple languages & minimum identification requirements

When one signs up, one has the ability to access the online community forum and resources without entering personal and banking information.


Assistive tools: Translation, Financial Dictionary, Bookmark

You can get assistive tools to translate, search in a dictionary, and bookmark words or sentences to learn more by pressing with a finger.

User-Centeredness & Cultural Competence

Don't hesitate to ask questions

You can ask any questions related to finance. Your profile is anonymous. Many financial advisors and experts are ready to hear your voice. We also give you tips to receive good answers.

User-Centeredness & Cultural Competence

Receive professional advice from trusted financial advisors & community experts

Build a sense of belonging by sharing financial experiences in our online community and receive professional advice from trusted financial advisors and community experts.


Learn financial jargon in a more digestible way

You can easily figure out difficult financial language through easy examples and related lessons.

Trust & Empowerment

Create a personalized financial plan unique to each user’s situation

Let’s create a personalized financial plan to achieve long-term financial goals. What information do we collect and why? We will show you our transparent data collection policy as well.

Financial Sustainability

Achieve long-term financial success

You can easily track your current financial situation and achieve long term financial success by breaking down goals into actionable steps.

Financial Sustainability

Recommend the best financial advisor and product for you.

We will give you some recommendations with trusted and transparent data based on your financial situation and credit score to help you achieve your goals.

Design guidelines

Promised design guidelines to make a consistent product and increase time efficiency within the team.

We only had three weeks to the final pitch after creating the user flow and wireframe together. Although not even a design system for development, we need promised guidelines between designers to design our product consistently and work efficiently within a limited time.

Takeaways & Next Steps


Understand users and define our focus

It took us much time to define our project scope. We needed to consider diverse factors users faced, such as unpredictable income and living situations. However, it was helpful for me to lay out the whole user journey from the user’s current financial standing to where they want to be in the next 5-10 years and see what would be the first step we can help them in the journey.

A new try, co-design workshop

We hosted co-design workshops, and I doubted how much this would help as it was the first time for me. However, I realized that my thinking was wrong. I could understand users' priorities towards the ideas derived from the brainstorming session in co-design workshops and had a chance to get honest and more detailed users' opinions. It would be a great tool to verify assumptions-based solutions for users.

Next step

Come up with a new product name

Our product name, Finana, was inspired by one of our users in co-design workshops. However, after the final presentation, we received feedback saying that it might not be appropriate to use a banana to symbolize a product directed towards the African American community. Therefore, even though it's unintentional, it's important not to cause any confusion or misunderstanding.

Special thanks to:

Qualitas of Life

Raven L.Veal
Strategic Design Lead at Citi Ventures

Jennifer Shuang
Head of UX Research at Citi Ventures

Melvin Washington II
Racial Equity, Data, and Technology at Citi Ventures

Misty Bell Stiers
VP, Creative Director - Inclusion at Citigroup

Kaitlyn He
UX Designer

Lucy Zhang
First Vice President at Royal Business Bank

Roger Madar, Criswell Lapin, IXD Cohort


Lepius’ Official Website

UX/UI DesignDesign System
comaba thumbnail

Comaba: An Intuitive Workout Record

UX/UI DesignUser Research
potluck thumbnail

Potluck: International Student Gatherings

UX/UI DesignUser Research

2021 Ted Taehyun Lee. All rights reserved.