A micro-investment app that uses machine learning and algorithmic trading to invest spare change in cryptocurrency.
I. Team Roles:

Jason Liang: Trading Algorithm Development, Machine Learning, Business Development

Charles Hou: Full-stack Software Engineering

Davide Zhang: Design Research, UX/UI Design, Visual Design, Interaction Design, Front-end Engineering, Business Development
II. Problem Space

How can a millennial invest in cryptocurrency safely, easily, and responsibly?

Background
Interest in cryptocurrency as a valid investment vehicle has been growing rapidly. This, coupled with the trend of small savings and investment among millennials, led us to believe there an opportunity in this space.

Opportunity
Since algorithmic trading and high-frequency trading, in cryptocurrency or otherwise, has traditionally been reserved for high net-worth individuals, we thought there could be an opportunity to democratize this service and open it to the public via the form of an app.
III. Solution

“Into the crypto world one dime at a time.”

Multiply is a cryptocurrency-only micro-investment mobile application (App). As users connect their bank accounts to the App, Multiply automatically rounds each purchase up to the next dollar and saves the difference in their Multiply accounts. This spare change is then automatically invested in one or more of Multiply’s systematic cryptocurrency funds chosen by the user. Users can also choose to deposit and invest a customized amount into the funds.

Use example 1
Clara connects her Chase debit card to the Multiply App, and chooses Multiply Fund A and B in which she invests her change. She buys a coffee for $3.5 using the same debit card, resulting in $0.5 in her Multiply account. Immediately, Multiply automatically invests $0.25 to Multiply Fund A and B, respectively.

Use example 2
Clara gained significant returns from investing in Fund A and B, and wishes to invest more. She then directly deposits $200, from which each $100 is automatically invested in Fund A and B respectively.

IV. Process

Our goal is to confirm our assumption about the demand in this space, narrow down the pain points of our target users, and deliver a product that actually helps. Throughout the UX development process, we engaged with the target user population via interviews, contextual inquiries, and usability testing


1. Background Research

Informal interview insights
1. The effort and time commitment required to open cryptocurrency wallets or trading accounts are substantial.
2. Casual investors interested in cryptocurrencies as alternative investment vehicles do not have the necessary knowledge/resources to manage their crypto investments, and the barrier to learn about crypto investing is high for people with less or no investment experiences.
3. Users are overwhelmed by the sheer number of cryptocurrencies and exchanges.
4. Casual individuals who wish to invest are reluctant to turn to traditional banking and investing in traditional assets (e.g. stocks and treasuries).
Data research insights
1. Increasing demand for investing through robo-advisors.

The expected number of customers in the US investing through robo-advisors in 2021 is 17 million. [1]
2. Increasing demand for investment and cryptocurrency

Data from Google Trends, Twitter Hashtag trends, and Reddit shows that there is strong general interest in investment and cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin’s Wikipedia page was the 9th most visited site across the entire internet in 2017. [2]

The Bitcoin subreddit is among the 200 most active subreddits out of more than a million subreddits. [3]

3. The cryptocurrency investor demographic is biased in a way that most holdings are concentrated in the hands of a certain group of high net-worth individuals.

Profits from crypto-investing are concentrated in a few players’ hands and general crypto-market participants lack relevant knowledge about the game.

The market caps for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are $105B, $45B, and $4.5B respectively as of 6/24/2018. [4]

1000 people own 40 percent of the Bitcoin market. [5]
4. Millennials are more skeptical of traditional financial institutions and investment vehicles. 

This is manifested by the downward trend regarding stock market investment among them. A survey suggests that the majority of millennials lack investing confidence and experience. [6]
2. Generative Research
To pinpoint the specific needs of our target users, we conducted generative research through contextual inquiries and identified three qualities that our application should have.
Contextual Inquiries
We conducted a number of contextual inquiries by observing a number of target users perform investment or cryptocurrency-related activities. Our goal is to learn more about:

1. What are the common services or apps that meet the user's needs?

2. How do users select services or apps for their investment needs?

3. What pain points do users have when performing those activities?
Key findings from contextual inquiries:

1. It takes too much time to open a normal or cryptocurrency trading account - users do not know where to start;

2. All target users find apps from traditional banks very difficult to use;

3. Most target users are interested in trying out cryptocurrency investing but are wary of the knowledge barrier and volatility​​​​​​​
How might we:

Provide a cryptocurrency investment service that is not time-consuming to use, easy to onboard and professionally managed.
3. Ideation
Now that we have identified three specific needs regarding cryptocurrency investing, we set out to validate those needs through storyboards followed by speed dating sessions.
Need 1
Not time-consuming to use
Need 2
Easy to onboard
Need 3
Professionally managed
Storyboards
Speed Dating Sessions
From the few speed dating sessions we conducted, all of the 20 users resonate with the needs identified in the storyboards. Therefore, we proceeded with refining the needs. The application should have an easy signup process, automatic round-up of transactions, and an automatic investment function. 
4. Prototype and Testing

Low Fidelity Prototyping
We created wireframes that include both the key screens we identified based on the validated needs and a clear user flow through those screens.

Key Screens:

1. Log-in/Sign-up

2. On-boarding

3. Home/Dashboard
3a. Sub-screen: charts and graphs of investment return

4. Deposit/Withdraw

5. Cards

6. Investment Products
Experience Prototyping
We labeled each screen and created links to key pages via Invision to simulate the experience of using the app on the phone. We then tested the prototype with a few target users and recorded feedback.
Feedback from testing:

1. More separate pages in the sign-up process. The low-fidelity sign-up page crams too many questions into one page. If the user closes the app during sign-up, they have to re-type all the information.

2. Ability to lock the app. Depending on the phone used, biometric unlock (face, fingerprint, etc.) and password should be introduced to improve security and privacy.
Design Language
Because we developed for iOS first, I stylized the interface following Apple’s Human-Computer Interface Design Guidelines and aimed to create a visual experience that feels clear, native, and easy to use. ​​​​​​​
Google Material Design Example
Apple Human-Computer Interface Design Example

Hierarchical Shadowing

Non-Hierarchical Shadowing

V. Final Design (Beta)
A micro-investment app that uses machine learning and algorithmic trading to invest spare change in cryptocurrency.
Design for public beta-testing


1.

On-boarding

8 conversation-like steps to create an account. Progress is saved so the user can close the app safely.

2.

Security

Both biometric and numeric options to ensure the security of information and user privacy.

3.

Tutorial

A quick three-step video tutorial to further ease the on-boarding process. 

4.

Connecting a bank

One-stop solution for cryptocurrency investment, supporting a variety of bank accounts.

5.

Cards management

The app offers flexibility regarding the specific card(s) to automatically round-up and invest the difference.

6.

Investment products

Investment products based on different risk preferences, with clear visualizations illustrating pros and cons of each strategy.










UX Prototype
Full Walkthrough







On-boarding
Beta-test
(Swift)













On-boarding 
Animation Detail
Landing Site
VI. Reflection
Designing for a real-world product as part of a start-up with pressure coming from various angles and stakeholders, I have greatly honed my design thinking skills and now have a better knowledge of current industry practices.

In retrospect, this design project could have benefitted from a more systematic testing and interview process, data visualization, and a proper design system. Those three aspects will help quantify and improve the effectiveness of the design.
Thanks for reading!