Onboarding to Money: a product review

Dude have you tried putting money in Coinbase or setting up a Metamask account or buying a token on ICO? It’s so clunky! Crypto’s got so far to go!

I keep thinking, “That might be true, but …

Have you ever tried to explain “investing” to anyone new to it?

Have you ever read all 97 pages of funky tables that is your credit report?

Have you ever sat alone, set up a brokerage account, and tried to figure out how to get money into an ‘equity product’ - let alone which one?

Ever register a business bank account? Remember getting your first credit card? Have you ever tried to get a mortgage? Split a freakin’ bill among 3 people?

Clunky, all of it. Confusing, messy — and often proprietary. Using money means understanding multiple systems, all of which rest on vague concepts like equity, amortization, fractional banking, etc. No wonder crypto confuses people:

Money, on its own, is an abstraction layer.

As a financial coach who’s worked with several hundred people alongside my technology day jobs, I’ve recently found myself asking: What’s the onboarding path to using money?

Sample journey map, made in Mural
  • If you were to address one of these problems, how might people’s experience improve?
  • Can you identify the easiest to solve pain points? (we tend to find high-value feature opportunities here)
  • What about the hardest to solve pain points? (we tend to find high-value product or service ideas with this one)
  • Who in particular are you thinking of, and can you get information directly from them about this problem?
  • What assumptions are you making about someone’s motivation for or experience of using this?

Speculative Money Journey Debrief

If I was to answer some of these questions as they relate to the onboarding path to using money, I’d have to decide how to contend with technical issues, emotional barriers, and/or cultural norms around money.

Detail A of sample money-onboarding journey map

Learnings Analysis

This method reveals some problems people have both with using financial products AND concepts within our economic system itself. Perhaps we may wish to ask: what’s the onboarding process to consumer capitalism?

I believe part of the adoption complexity of blockchain development is because money, as used in mandatory consumer capitalism, is an intersectional problem space that reveals a massive set of system failures and problems for a large number of users.

To truly understand the problem space our users are operating in as related to financial technologies, one has to explicitly talk about the failures of economic systems at a high level and the common, recurrent pains people experience as a result.

What’s the onboarding process to consumer capitalism?

How might we change the experience of people using money?

Detail B of sample money-onboarding journey map



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Hadassah Damien

Hadassah Damien


design strategist & facilitator // economics researcher @rffearlessmoney // progressive technologist // performer