People's Insights Volume 2, Issue 16


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This week, we distill insights around - a platform that uses gamification and data to help people manage their money.

100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network.

Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it -- on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web -- to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

We have further synthesized the insights to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights annual report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, now available as a Kindle eBook.

For more, see: People's Insights Volume 2, Issue 16

  1. 1. crowdsourcing | storytelling | citizenship | social data People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 16
  2. 2. Volume 2, Issue 16, April - June, 2013 Future of Money 100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and curate the conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — into a weekly insights report. Every quarter, we compile these insights, along with original research and insights from the MSLGROUP global network, into the People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine. We have synthesized the insights from our year-long endeavor throughout 2012 to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement. People’s Insights In 2013, we continue to track inspiring projects at the intersection of social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship. Do subscribe to receive our weekly insights reports, quarterly magazines, and annual reports, and do share your tips and comments with us at @PeoplesLab on Twitter. People’s Insights weekly report People’s Insights quarterly magazines People’s Insights Annual Report
  3. 3. 3 What is is a free platform that helps people manage their money. Founded in 2006, Mint currently helps 10 million people manage 17 million financial accounts at 16,000 North American financial institutions. Source: The Best Free Way to Manage Your Money Blogger Ann Carns explains: “Mint allows users to track multiple financial accounts, including bank and credit card accounts, in one place. To do so, users register at Mint and enter account information and passwords, so the program can obtain the information electronically and aggregate it. ( was acquired by the financial software company Intuit in 2009.)” Source: Caters to people who want convenience, automation and a helping hand Mint aggregates data from multiple financial accounts and presents it in one place. The platform is accessible across devices including web, mobile and tablets, and built its user base around the promise of convenience. As Mint user John Stevens commented at the Google Play store: “I have been using Mint on two devices and really like having [access] to all my accts in one place, especially when traveling.” Mint also promises automation: after a one time set up, the platform automatically pulls transactional data from people’s bank accounts, auto segregates it into different spending buckets like auto and groceries, and reminds people to pay bills on time.
  4. 4. Volume 2, Issue 16, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Blogger Tim Murphy said: “No matter how responsible we try to be, everyone forgets to pay bills from time to time. Rather than hoping our memories get better with time (unlikely), why not leverage technology when you can?” As a result of the automation, Mint users share Blogger Jill Tooley notes that Mint is always looking out, “kind of like a parent who’s never fully satisfied with accomplishments and always pushes their kids toward excellence:” “It’ll sometimes warn you that you spend too much on X, Y, or Z. It’ll inform you if you fell short on your budgeting goals. It’ll suggest ways you can cut down on expenses whether you ask for that or not. “And even if you’re doing great in every aspect, it’s still involved in your business. A sparkling credit score and zero credit card debt doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on Easy Street, because there may be something you could improve.” Gamification helps people improve their behavior Mint uses gaming elements such as goals, points and rewards to guide people’s actions and keep them motivated. People can choose from a preset list of financial goals, like “Buy a Home” or “Trip to Hawaii,” or create their own goals. Their progress is then monitored and presented visually through bars. The editorial team at LaptopMag notes: “You get scores for how financially fit you are, a list of tasks and specific points you need to consider in order to achieve this fitness and bars showing how far along you are in your budget for the month.” Upon completing a goal, Mint encourages people to share their achievement on their social networks. Mark Henricks, a contributor to the Mint blog, explains: “In the final screen, verbally slaps you on the back with a congratulatory, “Boom!” Then you get some good advice: make your commitment more public by posting details via social media. It’s been shown that people do better sticking to goals when others get involved.” In addition to the gaming elements woven into the platform design, Mint also creates challenges to engage people and encourage good behavior. In his review of Mint’s “Financial Fitness” feature, Techcrunch’s Jason Kincaid notes: “Yes, it may sound like a bizarre combination at first – personal finance and fun aren’t exactly two things that go hand in hand. But it’s also a smart move on Mint’s part, as it looks to turn the mundane and often confusing activity of getting your financial affairs in order into something a bit more tolerable while increasing Mint’s engagement in the process.” Source: they feel secure about their transactions and financial well being. Mint user Charlene Hapeman commented: “[Mint] connects to my account securely and adds transactions so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to write them down.” Mint user Timothy Beldock commented: “[Mint] provides a nice financial summary across multiple accounts. I don’t always use the advice, but it’s nice to know that account activity is monitored.”
  5. 5. 5 Source: Source: Beyond recognition, Mint also occasionally hands out tangible rewards, like cash prizes.’s Jeff Lopez shares: “A great example was 2010’s “Drop Your Debt Challenge” that rewarded players who had the greatest declines in personal debt.” Data and comparisons keep people motivated Mint uses data and comparisons to motivate people in two ways. First, Mint tracks people’s behavior and draws comparisons to their own past behavior. Source: Second, Mint aggregates users’ data to draw comparisons, both between Mint users themselves, and also between Mint users and non-Mint users. This helps people plan their expenses better and to see their progress.
  6. 6. Volume 2, Issue 16, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Source: Personal finance blogger Erik Folgate said: “You can compare your own saving and spending habits to trends that other Mint users are setting. Using this data, you might realize that you’ve set an unrealistically low food budget for your neighborhood, or that you’re overspending on your gym and fitness costs.” Data and comparisons also encourage people to evaluate and share their own experiences, resulting in active discourse and sharing of tips and financial strategies. Even the ads help people save more Mint remains a free service by recommending financial products to people, and earning a percent of sales. The recommendations are tailored to people’s spending behavior and usually help people save even more money – resulting in many favorable reviews. Mashable’s Lauren Drell said: “Mint makes money by helping you save money — based on your spending and saving habits, Mint can recommend thousands of products. If you switch those products, Mint earns a kick-back, so it’s a win-win for Mint and for the user.” PCMag’s Jill Duffy said: “It’s free and ad-supported, but even the ads add value to a fantastic tool for managing your money.” Source: Source: Source: Privacy and security issues deter new users Quite a few people have avoided using Mint because they are not comfortable with sharing their bank passwords and account details. Response to the question “How much is in your emergency fund, Minters?” on
  7. 7. 7 Source: YouTube user augustuslxiii shared his skepticism of third party web platforms: “I’m a bit wary about giving away any passwords to anyone else. I know isn’t a scam, but even so. It’s my bank password. I feel like I’d be whispering my vault combination to someone I just met.” Another commenter highlighted the increase in online security breaches: “What with all the security breaches and leaks these days, I’d never give out account information to some third party, no matter how secure or not it is. I’m not keeping my savings tucked under my mattress, but there is a certain degree of distrust with extremely sensitive information like that.” Yet another commenter stressed that web platforms must guarantee protection of data to make new users feel secure: “I [don’t] trust anyone’s cloud until they start defining the damages they are willing to cover for violated data privacy and provide a means to validate the my data is secure online.” Increasingly, people are also worried about ownership and usage of their data. NYTimes blogger Jennifer Saranow Schultz wrote: “Even if a site promises now not to sell aggregate data about customers, it could change the agreement at any time and go ahead and sell the data. In addition, if such sites go bankrupt, even if they currently don’t sell data, trustees may decide to sell it to maximize the value of the assets.” The recent global outrage over the US National Security Agency’s collection of personal data will further fuel privacy and security concerns in the future. As brands and organizations continue to collect user behavior and transaction data with new and existing digital properties, they will need to become more effective and proactive in creating, co-creating and communicating their policies. Acquisitions challenge people’s loyalty People are also increasingly skeptical of acquisitions of their favorite web platforms. For many, acquisitions imply a change in operating policies or mission, and –more seriously - the eventual death of the platform. Several Mint users have complained of usability issues following Intuit’s acquisition of the platform. Xconomy’s Wade Roush commented: “The trouble, for me, began about 18 months after the Intuit acquisition, when the team decided to stop using Yodlee as their data provider and switch to Intuit’s own back end. The reasoning behind the change was understandable, but for users, it was a huge pain.” Others noted a drop in quality of customer care and product upgrades. Mint user Acitrano commented: “The #1 biggest problem with Mint is that Intuit seems like they’re trying to kill it by resource starvation. The support is terrible and they seem completely unwilling to improve the product.” Acquisitions are now a red flag for savvy internet users. We have seen this at scale with the recent Yahoo acquisition of Tumblr: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced the news with a promise not to “screw up” Tumblr, and Techcrunch’s Matt Burns noted that 72,000 blog posts were transferred out of Tumblr within a single hour: “Tumblr users are afraid Yahoo is going to ruin it. After all, Yahoo has set that precedent after scooping up sites like Geocities and only to abandon development and let the sites rot in the Internet sun.”
  8. 8. Volume 2, Issue 16, April - June, 2013 Future of Money Money management tools and apps Several platforms like and Save Up, integrate elements of data collection and analysis, and gamification to help people manage their money. We are also seeing niche money management platforms, like Simplee which helps people manage their medical expenses. Source: Source:
  9. 9. People’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietary crowdsourcing platform and approach that helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform helps organizations build and nurture public or private, web or mobile, hosted or white label communities around four pre-configured application areas: Expertise Request Network, Innovation Challenge Network, Research & Insights Network and Contest & Activation Network. Our community and gaming features encourage people to share rich content, vote/ comment on other people’s content and collaborate to find innovative solutions. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach forms the core of our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client- specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities. The People’s Insights Quarterly Magazines showcase our capability in crowdsourcing and analyzing insights from conversations and communities. People’s Lab: Crowdsourcing Innovation & Insights Learn more about us at: |
  10. 10. For People’s Lab solutions, contact