We may not think of banks sitting on the cutting-edge of technology and innovation, but sometimes they surprise us. Take Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based PNC Bank‘s Virtual Wallet®, for example – it’s a highly-interactive and visual online banking platform that helps young consumers manage their finances with more control and transparency.
Launched in 2008, the online banking tool came about when the bank challenged a team of designers, visual analytics experts, technologists and banking experts to design a banking tool from ground-up that would leverage cutting-edge technologies to answer today’s banking needs. Originally, the development of Virtual Wallet® was based on answering “the money mindset and financial lifestyle of Gen Y, making it easy and visual to help them plan and save”. But the bank realized it had tapped into a latent need, and added enhancements that helped it reach a much larger audience.
“People want more control over their money and Virtual Wallet® can help them take charge of their finances,” said Thomas Kunz, director of payments and e-business for PNC. “Since Virtual Wallet® was introduced in 2008, we have used input from our customers to make innovative enhancements for real-time information and resources to help them avoid financial mistakes and achieve their financial goals.”
Thinking Differently About Money Management
Virtual Wallet® combines infographic visuals with an intuitive interface, because, after all, it’s about the idea that you can make better financial decisions if you actually have a good visual picture of where you are financially now as well as in the future. For example, there’s a calendar feature that enabling users to see their deposits, bills, payments and all other activities within a single overview. Deposits are marked in green, payments are orange and red danger days warn in advance if a payment is scheduled that exceeds the available balance, helping you avoid potential overdrafts. A spending management tool, called Spending Zone, lets you see how you spend by category or time so you know how much you’re really spending on dining and entertainment. For those who need banking on-the-go, there’s even an iPhone app for Virtual Wallet®.
In fact, it seems like Virtual Wallet® moves away from the idea of the traditional ledger checking account, and even uses a “new” language to help users understand their finances. For example, it terms everyday banking and bill pay as “Spend”, short-term savings and overdraft protection as “Reserve” account, while high-yield investments fall under “Growth”.
So is such new innovation in personal financial management making a difference? It seems so – Virtual Wallet® has averaged more than 3,500 account openings per week this year alone, and has earned numerous awards for design, technology and innovation.
After all, it’s always smart to bank on good ideas.