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Join us. We’re looking to revolutionize financial services for a different segment of the American population: adults 50+. CO-OP, MasterCard and OpenIDEO are once again partnering for THINK Prize 16: The Financial Longevity Challenge. For the next three months, the credit union movement, OpenIDEO’s innovators and consumers from around the globe will be collaborating to create new products and solutions aimed at adults over 50. The top ideas will share the $10,000 THINK Prize.

Massive Demographic, Diverse Needs

This is a massive demographic with diverse needs. If you’ve been following the LaunchPad series on the THINK blog, maybe you have already begun thinking about the challenges facing the 111 million Americans who are 50+. They are the largest demographic in the U.S. and they’re in transition:

  • According to a study by Nielsen-BoomAger, this cohort will control 70 percent of the nation’s disposable income by 2017. They also control 80 percent of the nation’s wealth.
  • They stand to inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years.
  • 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. Only 11 percent have used a retirement calculator to estimate the savings they’ll need in retirement, according to a 2015 survey by Transamerica.
  • The National Association of Home Builders estimates the aging-in-place remodeling market to be $20 to $25 billion, which is about 10 percent of the $214 billion home improvement industry.

Meanwhile, fintech innovations have centered around the needs of millennials rather than older adults, even though 66 percent of adults 50+ regularly make online purchases (Immersion Active), 72 percent of baby boomers with incomes over $75,000 own smartphones (AARP), and 52 percent of older adults check email during dinner (Nielsen) — compared to 38 percent of 15 to 20 year-olds.

Human-Centered Design Creates Relevant Solutions

How might we create financial services that support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?

This is the question we’re asking in this year’s THINK Prize 16 Challenge. Using human-centered design and the OpenIDEO collaborative platform as our base, the THINK Prize 16 Financial Longevity Challenge will guide participants through five phases of innovation over the next three months or so. The first four phases are:

  • Research: Now through October 30: Anyone can share personal perspectives and examples on the challenge topic.
  • Ideas: October 31-November 27: Submit and comment on new ideas.
  • Feedback: November 28-December 4: During this short Feedback phase, approximately 25 ideas will be selected to go into the Refinement phase.
  • Refinement: December 5-December 30: Selected ideas will be refined and built out by the idea authors and their teams.

On January 26, 2017, the prize-winning ideas will be announced, following review by a judging panel of OpenIDEO staff, and CO-OP and Mastercard representatives. After that date, the Challenge will remain live for a fifth phase, Impact, in which the community will continue collaborating and sharing progress.

Creating Inroads to Innovation

This will be the sixth annual CO-OP THINK Prize. CO-OP created the THINK Prize to inspire creative thinking and solutions for credit unions and their members. This is the second year that CO-OP is partnering with MasterCard and OpenIDEO on a THINK Prize challenge. The 2015 Financial Empowerment Challenge attracted nearly 15,000 visitors from 138 countries. More than 500 active participants collaborated on a number of issues and ideas, ultimately leading CO-OP to recognize five outstanding ideas with the 2015 THINK Prize.

Among those winners was Nicole Lopez-Conti, who at the time was a community outreach manager at Patelco Credit Union in the San Francisco Bay Area. Along with her co-creator Luis Jara, Lopez-Conti used the Challenge and the OpenIDEO platform to develop Re-Look, a program that proposed having credit union representatives examine reasons that a loan had been declined, then create a focused, accelerated plan to help members get on track for a successful loan approval. “The credit union movement is centered on the concept of people helping people,” Lopez-Conti says. “If the movement collectively steps into that vision, they can solve social issues in ways banks cannot.”

This past year, the partnership between CO-OP, MasterCard and OpenIDEO also created a fellowship program to help credit union thinkers foster out-of-the-box thinking and new ideas. Seven Credit Union Innovation Fellows used IDEO human-centered design tools with inspiring results (read more about the fellows here).

Now, as the THINK Prize 16 Challenge gets going in November and December, CO-OP will host a series of collaboration training workshops for credit union employees. These half-day workshops will be co-sponsored by MasterCard, and will be led by OpenIDEO facilitators and credit union innovation fellows who have been working on this initiative. Dates and locations are to be announced, and inquiries can be directed to marketing@co-opfs.org.

Join the Challenge Now!

Joining the Challenge is your opportunity to explore a new market, imagine new products and solutions, nurture creativity at your credit union, and learn more about the process of human-centered design. On a larger scale, it’s also your chance to address the real needs of a massive, financially active, innovation-starved market. What’s your big idea?

To learn more about the THINK Prize 16: Financial Longevity Challenge and to participate, click here.