Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Double Bottom Line: "Unbanked" Consumer Experience worth $106 Billion

In one of the best retail-izations of a marketplace opportunity I’ve seen in a long, long time, mPower Labs Inc. of Austin Texas debuts the Mango Money Center.  According to the Brookings Institute, one fourth of American households are “unbanked”.  These consumers do not use traditional deposit accounts at traditional banks. The market amounts to an estimated $106 billion.

I was fortunate to work with mPower Labs on the initial consumer experience strategy and concept designs for the first store.  We worked with their very dedicated team to understand the opportunity and embed the key consumer drivers in the design of the experience.  The idea of the “double bottom line” permeated everything we did.  The double bottom line posits that in addition to creating new financial value, a company can—and should—create new social value.  When executed properly the two are interdependent and make each other grow.

Early concepts developed under contract with Fitch.

We came to understand the distrust the unbanked have for the financial system, mostly because their experiences have been riddled with inflated fees and prison-like architecture.  They have been treated poorly and mPower Labs set out to create an ideal experience for these people while making a healthy profit over time. 

We found when these consumers felt a company was loyal to them, they stayed loyal to the company.  We looked at world-class retailers to benchmark the elements that signaled to the consumer that Mango respects them as much as Apple or Starbucks does their customers.  We shopped and spent time in the places they did in order to develop the right sense of place.

The main idea of the engagement strategy was to encourage Mango customers to “Learn, Do, Be”.  This emphasized the prime directive of consumer-centricity: shared responsibility.  The experience of the brand across all the touchpoints needs to create pathways to possibilities by providing transparency, education and empowered self-service in a safe, community-dependent environment.

Mango is the brainchild of mPower Labs led by Roy and Bertrand Sosa who founded NetSpend, Inc, one of the first reloadable debit card providers.  You can hear about Mango and their approach in their own words in this clip.

Mango reportedly plans to open more stores in Austin and then expand to every major U.S. city within three years.

Related Links
Mango: The Prepaid Card That Works With Your Mobile. http://bit.ly/cfka7g
MPOWER Labs - New Businesses Helping The World's Underserved http://bit.ly/bdkFO3
Mango Financial, Inc. Debuts First U.S. Store in Austin, TX /PRNewswire/ -- http://bit.ly/bmwNVr
Bringing Unbanked Households Into the Banking System - Brookings Institution http://bit.ly/b5Ku9s
The Mango Store Lets You Bank Without Commitment | Fast Company http://bit.ly/csaF2A
Mango Financial @ Bercy Chen Studio: Architecture + Construction http://bit.ly/9MR1SZ
MPower Ventures throws Mango Financial to public - Austin Business Journal http://bit.ly/aP7eNM


  1. This is a private video. It's not watchable.

  2. Sorry about the video. It is on YouTube published by Mango's parent company. I'll try to get them to make it public again. Thanks Anonymous!