Mojey is a research innovation project intended to demonstrate ways of transferring denominated digital assets directly between users with mobile devices. No database, server or blockchain needed.
The experiment is to recreate the in-person customer experience of a user with cash transacting with a vendor using a cash drawer.
After taking the time to understand the problem and documenting our whiteboard sessions, I set about understanding cash - again. I almost stopped using cash over the past few years.
The challenge of recreating the user experience of cash using a mobile device sounds simple. In reality, I knew it would not be easy to replicate because the cash drawer is an old way of doing things like a rotary phone that nobody uses anymore.
I visited local shops and a farmers market where customers transacted in cash. I watched the process, and so few people use cash nowadays. I was beginning to wonder if this was the right way to go.
Upon getting back to the office, I created a complete prototype of a denominated cash app to validate the idea of transacting in cash digitally.
We performed user testing with people from different disciplines in the office. None of our user testing candidates could understand why we were going "backward." They kept asking, "why."
None of the testers wanted to use the app. They asked, "why hold denominations of currency on a mobile device?" None of our answers convinced them. We realized using the app would be an uphill struggle.
The questions we started to ask were: 1) How do we get users to share denominations on a device? 2) Why are we asking users to share denominations digitally?
Upon asking the second question, it became clear. We wanted a friendly product for everyday users to test new security technology.
The Cash app was a perfect example of how to transfer value between users, in precise amounts, without dealing with denominations. Teaching users to accept this method of payment took years in the market. How do we get users to do this?
Answer: Less risk.
A week of research, design, and exhaustive prototype testing made it clear that a denominated cash application is a step backward in usability. Our initial struggle was invaluable. We quickly understood what we didn't want to do and why.
So what then? This work released a new creative storm of innovative thinking. We now wanted to demonstrate how to exchange value in a reduced risk form in a non-divisible asset? In other words, "how do we exchange low-risk value and make it feel easy?"
We soon landed an easy alternative to cash that existed in the world. We could use this asset to exchange value - without the perceived risk of cash.
We chose Emoji.
We learned a lot by building the cash drawer app. We now knew that we wanted a very easy-to-use app that integrated with a user's everyday routine. We wanted it integral to the phone, not just "another app." Most of all, it needed to be practical.
Since users send emojis in messages, we designed the app to work seamlessly inside Apple's Messages app. Building a Messages app with assets sounded simple initially, but it wasn't, especially with new asset technology. I discovered to do things with fewer words in each iteration, fewer taps, with more intuitive and easier-to-use flows.
Adobe XD prototypes made iterative design, testing, and modification decisions very quick and easy.
Adhering to Apple's HCI Guidelines made the app fluid and easier to use on all devices, including the Apple Watch.
Building in Swift moved the production version of the app along quickly. We were able to complete a releasable app in 12 weeks.
I wrote a two-year business plan for the application that included add-on game apps with viable revenue models.
Covid derailed the release plan, and seeing the value to the community, the company, which builds open-source software, released the code under the creative commons. With this project's success, the company asked me to bring my innovation and prototyping process to the UX Team as their manager.
Intensive and focused explorative phases of research using well-crafted prototypes can save precious time.
Prototypes led to clarity and the opportunity to fail early and pivot. Prototypes also led to asking the right question: "What is the simplest app we can create to transfer denominated value between users on mobile devices."
We determined that if the smile emoji were the penny, then more complex emoji can be the "denominations." In that, we also built a game of building-up and breaking-down emoji while sharing with friends.
An iterative working model process can lead to valuable insights and creative pivots to potential blue ocean opportunities.