Graduate Show 2019: Sam Pennington: Product Design

My final year project set out to investigate levels of Financial Literacy, i.e. the ability to make informed judgments and effective decisions with the use and management of money.

Please tell us a bit about your work, your influences etc:

I was inspired to begin researching this topic from personal experience of being a student and how difficult it is to stay under budget and how all small purchases eventually add up!

Physical, tangible notes and coins have been losing their prevalence over the last few decades and many economies are starting to now transition to a completely “cash-free society” in favour of debit and credit cards.

What has really interested me, is how the addition of contactless payments to the world of retail has almost reduced the friction of paying for a good or service. This has de-coupled the pain of paying from what we may have experienced ten years ago. Nowadays, we can now walk into a shop, pick up a product and pay for it within seconds without giving any thought about how it might be influencing our bank balances and our futures. We then later regret the purchase and seek to make reactive changes to our habits which soon die off. I wanted to create a proactive response to managing our digital money in our pockets.

There has arguably never been a more important time to save in a world where it’s never been so difficult and many of us have never been taught to manage our money correctly. The aim of my design was to bring young adults closer to their finances and help them form new financial habits, reduce impulsion and build self-discipline to push them closer to their own financial goals. It was also created to reduce the stigma of talking about money with peers.

In my research, it was found there is a psychological disconnect between our mobile online banking and what really comes out of our wallets. Monzo and Starling Bank have brought more transparency to mobile banking, however, my design brings the convenience of mobile banking straight to your wallet.


The final design is a smart-wallet constructed from aluminium with an embedded touch screen display that syncs real-time data of our finances from a mobile app; the first of its kind. The mobile app takes all your bank accounts and securely merges them into one platform using Open Banking. This is then synced with the display in your wallet using encrypted Bluetooth providing live updates on your total spending for the day and your bank balances.

The product also provides a service for users to set goals and targets which they fund until the amount as been reached. Achievements can be earnt and those can be shared with friends and family to encourage further engagement. The wallet is fingerprint protected, wirelessly charged and can hold up to eight bank cards and £100 of notes. It is to be available in a range of anodised colourways and the components within are modular and customisable to personal preference.


How have you found your course/time at Brighton?

I’ve really enjoyed my time on the course, it’s given me the opportunity to pursue a topic I’m really interested in. Everyone’s projects are unique and this is reflected in the teaching and we’re encouraged to work through challenges ourselves giving us the space to become problem solvers. I also found a lot of value in my placement year where I could apply all that I have learned and in exchange I could see how things work in the industry.

What are your plans after Graduation?

Most likely I will be taking a short break to recover from the year, before seeking to join a UX Design graduate scheme or even developing my final year project!


See Sam’s work

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Find out more about Product Design at Brighton

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