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Tonik Debit Card, the physical connection to a digital bank (December 2020 - August 2021)

Project snapshot

Tonik, the first neobank in Southeast Asia, launched its physical debit card in August 2021. This is how a physical channel for a pure play digital bank was developed and launched in the middle of a lockdown.

The problem: To give customers access to cash and pay in stores, Tonik needed to develop a physical debit card that could be ordered, activated and managed completely within the app.

My role: Product Manager (concept, roadmap, requirements, user flows, process, pricing, promotions, launch, etc.)

Tools used: Lucidchart (user flows and process maps), Figma (wireframes), Jira (user stories/roadmap/backlog), Confluence (product documentation), Excel (for everything else)

* The nature of my work at Tonik was confidential and covered by a non-disclosure agreement, so I can't publish much. However, I can walk you through my process.

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Process: Discovery

I joined focus group discussions, lurked on social media and forums where current and potential customers were active, talked to our Customer Care team about what customers were saying, and trawled through customer feedback to piece together a solution that would give customers access to their cash and pay for purchases in stores easily.

Since the bank was purely digital and had no branches or ATMs of its own, users should be able to order, activate and manage their cards completely in the app.

Process: Design

Diagram of user flows with details blurred

I mapped out the user journey of ordering, activating, managing and replacing the card in the app, which the UX/UI designer and I turned into wireframe flows on Figma. I provided the directional copy and collaborated with our UX writer to add more Tonik flavour where needed. Puns and pick up lines were par for the course, in keeping with the fun, flirty tone of our bank. I kept it direct and subdued for the more serious SMS notifications and FAQs. Having launched the virtual card in December, I was able to incorporate usage feedback from the beta to enhance the product experience for the physical card too. 

Once we had all the wireframes done, it was time to discuss the functional specs with the dev team. Because of time and resource constraints, some items were deprioritized and moved to post-MVP implementation. Once we had both the design and tech solution ironed out, it was presented to the different stakeholders for alignment before being pushed to development.

Annotated wireframe

Process: Development

I worked with our dev team, Mastercard, our card system vendor and our card personalization vendor to finish chip certification on the back end while our mobile team worked on the front end.

The central bank implemented a change in regulation that affected our pricing model so I introduced necessary friction into the flow to avoid users paying for a card that they wouldn't want to use because of these fees.

Updated copy on the sales screen with information on new rates

While all this was going on in the tech side, I worked with our operations team and the card personalization vendor, ironing out our ordering and delivery process to ensure things flowed smoothly from the app to the physical experience.


Simultaneously, I collaborated with the marketing team for the development of packaging. There was an initial design when I came on board, but I proposed to improve it to be better aligned with Tonik's personality and survive delivery intact. After all, it would be the only physical piece of Tonik that our customers would be in contact with. But that's a whole other case study in itself.

Process: Testing

Once the UAT build was released, QA and I tested out the app. And once we completed our chip certification with Mastercard, I did a small batch test using real cards with a few volunteers. We ran into several bumps because of COVID (Manila was put under lockdown for the umpteenth time, affecting all aspects of production, and very sadly, we lost our cards tech lead in India) that tested our processes. After ironing out kinks during the initial run, I expanded dogfooding to the rest of the company.

As the first, and probably only, debit card implementation in the country that didn't run through the local ATM network, we also wanted to test it on real users before launching to market. I opened up a beta test to the Tonik community of early adopters, gathering their feedback throughout the test period. This resulted in several enhancements and bug fixes that were implemented for the launch build, like our updated order success screen to let users know someone else can receive the delivery for them if they weren't available.

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Key takeaways

  • Working in a cross functional team that spans 7 countries in 5 different time zones makes for interesting perspectives and processes. Often times the job is to be the glue that holds everyone together.

  • There is no perfect product so focus on the users, their problems, and getting the MVP out to learn faster.

  • Being the only physical product in a digital company means reworking processes to be adaptable so that customers have a seamless experience, online and offline.

  • Learn from the hiccups you encounter during testing, because there will always be hiccups. And iterate, iterate, iterate.

See my other projects

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