4 years ago Sprout was a simple loyalty program. Since then it has developed into the world’s easiest and most secure way to get paid for your data. This is the story.
Sprout is an app that lets you get paid for your financial data. Instead of tech giants selling it on your behalf, you can generate some pocket change by sharing it with companies you trust and no one else.
I did the customer discovery, product design and user testing alongside Field Media Lab until Sprout found product market fit. The mobile app and web app are still undergoing development after the final market iteration and will launch a minimal viable product in Q2 2019.
Partner, Lead Designer
Pivoting from v1
In 2016, Sprout was a rewards program that let you pay it forward.
At the time, it required users to take out the app and scan a QR code at the POS of participating businesses in order to earn points on daily purchases. Customers liked the idea of paying it forward, an anonymous form of making a donation, and the app boosted in-store purchases for merchants. However, it didn’t have an analytics dashboard or a way to target customers.
We needed to build out the business model to support businesses needs as well as consumers and that meant pivoting away from an already saturated loyalty program market.
Reward redemption (left) and business interface (right).
The new value proposition.
Customers would share personal data with trusted businesses in exchange for monthly paycheques and exclusive discounts. These businesses would have ethical access to next level consumer data to increase advertising and marketing performance.
Trust in tech companies was declining and people were becoming more aware of how their data was used. It was clear what direction the world was moving, and Sprout had to be crystal clear about its intentions to gain trust and make waves.
Get paid for your data.
Create a fair trade of data for value that makes consumers and merchants happy.
The big question was how we were going to transfer data from one party to another. QR codes were messy and added time to checkout, a delicate time for any merchant. Surveys and questionnaires were out of the question as we wanted Sprout to fit where people were already making purchases. If we were going to reward people for the way they shopped, we had to integrate directly with their spending.
I created some user flows for the checkout process and considered three different vehicles for data transfer:
More on bank integration
Based on the flows above, this option ended with the most winning scenarios and provided the best overall user experience once implemented. It did however come with greater risk, so we dug deeper.
Entering financial data was a big step for users to take
Relied on external API
More security measures required
Canadian bank support was limited
More work for MVP
Supported online purchases as well as in store
Biggest revenue opportunity for all parties: Users, Merchants, and Sprout.
Closed a gap in the market: spending data was hard to get for merchants.
One time setup with little maintenance
Secure infrastructure through Plaid
Maintained payment context
Simplified payouts to user
Created strong internal data sets
Spending data explained
Users would link Sprout to their bank accounts in order to aggregate their spending data to share with merchants.
This included where/when they shopped and how much they were spending. In short, these were the line items on their bank statements pulled directly from and in accordance with their financial institutions.
Creating user flows
We wanted the in-app activity to be minimal as the perks should integrate directly with user’s lives and not require external effort or input. This meant making bank sign-in simple and loading offers directly to their bank cards so they don’t have to do anything.
Driving and supporting behaviour
The downside of an app so integrated is that users can forget it is working. We navigated this problem through two methods:
Any eligible offers, coupons or rewards were automatically linked to users' cards so they didn’t have to open it to continue earning. They were just notified that an offer was eligible and asked to take an action within a time frame via push notifications.
Push notifications were sent immediately after eligible purchases to remind users Sprout was working and give them a secondary confirmation that their actions were registered.
Polishing and building
I designed the UI for the app and included some custom illustrations for the onboarding process. The colours were from the brand guide generated by myself and Field Media Lab.
Sprout has been handed off to developers to build. The business dashboard has been left out due to IP restrictions and some screens have been changed for the same reason.
Expected launch is Q3 2019.