PNC Bank tasked the service design class to come up with a service that helps teens better manage their finances while helping PNC to retain young customers after they move to colleges. We designed Make It Rain, an online marketplace bundled with PNC’s Virtual Wallet, which helps teens make money and learn about financial management.
Oct 2017-Nov 2017
Lu Yang, Qin Bian, Brandon Zepeda, Maayan  Albert, Ying Chen
My role
Research Synthesis, UI design, Concept creation, prototyping
Service design, Financial literacy 


For many adolescents, establishing a sense of financial independence is an essential part of the transition into adulthood. To learn and practice financial management skills, they need to make their own spending decisions and mistakes while the stakes are low. Yet all too often, adolescents lack either resources or opportunities to practice these skills. More than a quarter of students believe they will be unprepared to manage their finances upon high school graduation.

How might we create financial services that help teens learn by doing?


Designed by Qin Bian and Brandon Zepeda
1.The teen enters a PNC branch with his father to set up the Virtual Wallet account.
2.The teen’s new account is linked to the Make It Rain marketplace where he can begin selling items to the PNC community. 
Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 00.53.31
3.  As the teen successfully fulfills transactions, he earns credits, which are represented by  “rain drops” in his credit score bucket.
4. When the teen graduates high school and heads to his out-of-state college, he can open a credit card with PNC that has a lower interest rate and better rewards than other banks.
Buyer Home Screen
Seller Dashboard Screen



  • Access to a marketplace designed for teens as sellers
  • Earn extra money
  • Learn client relationship skill
  • Build credits for the future 


  • Help teens learn to be financially responsible
  • Prepare teens for the future through building credits with PNC
  • Decrease monthly allowance

PNC Bank

  • Establish an early relationship with teens
  • Increase retention during teen-to-adult transition through credits
  • Gain data about how teens earn and spend money

 Patrons (PNC Community Members)

  • Sense of contributions to community
  • Prices are lower since the marketplace doesn’t charge commission fee from teens
  • More cash back on items purchased




In two-week period, we interviewed three parents and two teenagers remotely to inquire about their past experiences of teaching or learning financial concepts.
  • Goal realization motivates teens to seek out financial literacy in various ways.
  • Some teens really enjoy the tokens that symbolize their “grown-up” milestones.
  • Teens seek financial information on Youtube and learn about resources management via games.
  • Parents pass on their financial knowledge via both intentional and unintentional influences.
  • Parents and teens face conflicts over needs vs. wants, and “my money” vs. “your money.”


Based on the interviews, we designed a value flow model showing value exchanges between different stakeholders, focusing on the value exchanges between parents and teens.


We considered teens’ needs in different points throughout adolescence, represented in the following visual. We focused on high school teens, who have some control over their finances as well as a low-stakes environment where they can learn different financial skills. The Stage II shows the growing-up moments we target.


We found there is a tension between high-controlling parents and their teens who are financially handled. 
The tension increases when the teen starts to have his or her own agency, from a new job, for example. Therefore, we focused on parents who want to move from micromanaging to giving teens more agency, and on teens who want to grow more financially independent.


To define our problem space, we asked:
  1. How might we create trust between parents and teens?
  2. How might we help teens like Dan make conscious trade-offs when spending money?
  3. How might we help parents teach teens about good spending habits?
  4. How might we soothe the parents’ anxiety over teens’ transition to greater financial responsibility?
We came up with 30 high level concepts, condensed these ideas into three core concepts, and created storyboards showing potential solutions. Using speed dating as a method to quickly identify users’ needs, we showed storyboards to 4 teenagers and 3 parents. 

Parents Acting As Mock Banks

To help teens learn basic financial concepts, parents can act as mock banks and negotiate with teens in terms of borrowing money and paying interest.

Findings from speed dating:

  • Teens have borrowed money from parents but never needed to pay back.
  • Parents give teens money as long as they are not being greedy and do household chores.
  • Parents have concerns about “Making a profit out of the child” by charging interest.
  • Parent wants teens to learn long-term saving.

Socialize Spending Habits 

We want to socialize the spending habits to motivate teens to develop better financial habits through gamification and peer competition.

Findings from speed dating:

  • Teens feel they need to justify getting money from parents. Parents feel they need to justify giving teens money as well.
  • Teens want to be rewarded for good behavior, and rewards can take different forms such as a later curfew.
  • Money is a strong and effective motivator for teens to maintain good behavior. However, parents doubt its effectiveness and are worried about making the motivations extrinsic.
  • Teens think the socialization aspect could be motivating, but is not essential.

Setting Spending Buckets

Teens can set up short-term and long-term spending buckets to help them keep track of their spending habits.

Findings from speed dating:

  • Teens need to get feedback on how they are spending money.
  • Teens and parents agree that there is no need for parents to oversee teens’ spending.
  • Parents care about money they give, not the money teens earn.


From the speed dating, two strong needs stood out to us. First, teens want to earn extra money to achieve long-term goals, such as the purchase of a car. Second, teens also need feedback on whether they are spending well.
Based on these insights, we did another round of ideation. Initially, we were thinking about providing a teen-to-teen online service market, in which teens can provide services to their neighborhood. However, after talking to parents, we realized that there might be thorny trust issues around recruiting a stranger to perform service tasks. We had a heated debate on whether we should stay with the service marketplace model or move to a physical item marketplace model.
In the end, we decided to go with the physical item marketplace idea (“Make It Rain”). We wanted our service to incorporate credit points, a very unique selling point for PNC bank to retain its customers. It is harder to measure credit points objectively in a service marketplace, whereas in the Make It Rain marketplace, the credit points can be easily measured based on the price of the sold item.


After pivoting, we need to conduct another round of speed dating to validate our ideas. Going forward, we are interested in conducting research in the following areas.
  • How can we provide more incentives to draw people to this market?
  • How can we use the physical artifacts to help PNC build its brand value?
            E.g., PNC can provide branded packaging materials for teens if they need to ship their items.
  • Can we re-design user experience in the bank branch to reduce the barriers for teens to enter?
            E.g., PNC can provide a fun area for teens to hang out and package their items.
            E.g., PNC may provide locker space for teens to store their items and patrons to pick up.