Banco de Tempo Feira

Role: Masters’ thesis

Goal: Design Thinking and Fast Prototyping


This project’s goal was to create a digital product for a time banking community in Portugal in the context of my master’s thesis. Time banking is a labor-time based bartering system, where people exchange services for hourly time credits, rather than money. The thesis studied the growing phenomenon of the Sharing Economy alongwith its affiliated ideas. Time banking was revealed to be a subject with potential for technological contribution as well as social impact. UX Design and Design Thinking were studied to frame the methodological phase. Ultimately it was a very stimulating project from a technological, design and social point of view.

The Collaborative Economy landscape – Rachel Botsman

The Problem

One of the biggest challenges for this time-banking community was the fact that participants tend to offer more services than request, therefore creating an imbalance in the credits management. Considering that one of the goals of this initiative was to strengthen the community’s social fabric by allowing individuals to contribute, it was an issue that participants did not get a chance to do so due to lack of requests for services.

The Cause

Through literature study, surveys and interviews, the two main reasons werefound that could explain what caused this problem:

  • The fact that there was no catalogue or list of services to chose from;
  • But mostly the fact that participants felt “shame” because they saw their action of requesting for a service as asking for help or charity.

The Solution

It was then hypothesized that using the e-commerce methods ubiquitous to our current society, would favour a “consumption” frame of mind rather than a “charity” one in the participants towards their activity in the community. Hence a prototype was designed, implemented and tested to validate this hypothesis. The conclusion of this exercise was that a digital product for this community was in fact, very welcome and could bring several advantages to its functioning.

Key points

  • Researched about the Sharing Economy, the Collaborative Economy, and the importance of establishing trust in these platforms;
  • Created two prototypes, one in Adobe XD, another in WordPress
  • Initial surveys and interviews showed that participants were wary of a digital product and placed high value on personal contact. However, all subjects attested to a very positive experience with the prototype and that they would in fact engage more with the community because of it.

The platform followed the structure of a usual e-commerce website with a few specific characteristics:

  • Users do not need to manage their current credits
  • The matching of customer and provider has to be monitored by one of the community’s moderators who manage credit balance and guarantee that everyone gets an equal chance to contribute.
  • Participants need to go through a personal interview to be accepted in the community.
  • There are several other communities like these that may have their own nuances of how they function.
First Version – Home page
Second Version – Service page

Screenshots from Prototypes