Virtual Wallet Interactive Banking Experience for PNC Bank

A financial service for Generation Y customers

PNC Financial Services Group provides retail banking, corporate and institutional banking, and asset management services to more than 2.9 million people on the East Coast of the United States. Eager to make lifelong customers from the emerging Generation Y market, PNC came to IDEO to develop and refine its financial service offering for these 70 million young, tech-savvy consumers.

The design team began by understanding how members of Gen Y view banking and feel about money and managing their finances. These initial observations revealed that members of Gen Y embed technology into their lives and expect seamlessness, constant access, and fluidity from digital platforms. Observations also uncovered two distinct user archetypes: those who embrace technology but are selective of how and when they use it, and those with a voracious appetite for digital content. These insights and archetypes became the basis for a design language for a banking service intended to engage users with simplicity, clarity, and “on-demand” access. The service would need to not only provide relevant tools for users, but also to address the range of emotions associated with money and finances.

The result is Virtual Wallet, a family of banking products that provides customers with seamless access to their finances and intuitive, tangible, and direct control of their money. Centered on electronic transactional banking, it is designed to both promote and optimize banking activities with features and visualizations that support the mental models and lifestyles of its Gen Y customers.

The suite includes a personal banking website that combines rich visualizations and contextual information to communicate the implications and relationships among financial data. Included in these features is a money slide bar to graphically indicate available funds, a Savings Engine that helps customers establish rules around spending, and a playful instant transfer feature named Punch the Pig. Graphics, behaviors, and exclusions were all carefully chosen using insights from observations, providing the user with an enticing experience that is still in line with the structure of the bank’s existing offer. Virtual Wallet also features a mobile application based on the same design language and structure as the website, simply adapted for small screens. PNC Bank rolled out Virtual Wallet in June of 2008.

Project date: 2008

PNC Virtual Wallet Website