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RCA Design Experts Team Up With Visa’s Innovation Hub on New Contactless Donation Tin

Delegates from Visa Europe and design experts from the Royal College of Art have been discovering that donation tins no longer need to rattle to get attention. In a project initiated by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for Visa Europe to design prototypes for a contactless payment device for charitable giving, the RCA partnered with TCS to introduce Visa representatives to the concepts of design thinking, co-creation and inclusive design in the development of new products and services.

TCS and Visa teamed up with the RCA, based on the College’s expertise in design thinking research and academic expertise in developing innovative solutions based on a user-centred approach. The project was part of a ‘100-Day Proof of Concept’ programme sponsored by Visa’s Digital Business Unit, a strategy used by Visa to develop and test new ideas for products or services, and test their commercial viability.

The process began with a two-hour training session at Visa led by RCA staff and students, to provide Visa delegates with the tools for a ‘Design Jam’. Alongside design thinking and co-creation, this workshop introduced valuable tools and techniques for the development of products and services; an understanding of the importance of the societal, environmental and business context for design; and how to apply techniques to experience design and systems and service innovation in the context of tackling challenges of sustainability, systemic issues and social enterprise.

Equipped with this training – including new skills in using basic visualisation and rapid prototyping techniques – Visa delegates were invited to the RCA for a ‘Design Jam’ led by Dr Rob Phillips, Senior Tutor in Design Products, with guidance from students and staff from the Schools of Design and Communication, and supported by the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. The Design Jam emulated the RCA’s approach of research informing teaching and vice versa.

With further context provided by talks from project partners Save the Children and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the teams worked together to create a prototype design for a contactless payment device for charitable giving, exploring considerations such as: What is the provocation that helps the giver make the decision to donate? How does the unit attract attention? How can visual language make the unit easy to use? How does the unit inspire trust, or recognition? How are theft or misuse prevented? How do people feel rewarded for giving?

Working with a number of other partners, Visa have gone on to design a small number of contactless-enabled giving tins that have been tested at various venues around London to gather direct consumer feedback, and the giving tins will go through further incubation and market testing. This was the first Proof of Concept programme to successfully complete the 100-day sprint, and enabled Royal College of Art experts to contribute design ideas as part of a community of innovators, start-ups and entrepreneurs.