Project Mercury

During the summer of 2017 we sat down with Dave Shaw and Grant Bourbousson from Tesco Bank to design a year long programme that would approach FinTech from a design perspective. Although the FinTech space is expanding quickly, there are few examples that begin and end with a design approach, and may products end up as extensions of traditional banking products. Project Mercury aimed to may a step change by bringing together the multidisciplinary teams at Tesco Bank and students from the MA and MSc Design Informatics programmes.



  • Over the course of a year, students, academics and Tesco Bank digital colleagues have collaborated to deliver projects utilising digital technologies such as blockchain.
  • As part of the project, a dual series of lectures and workshops have been delivered on various topics including data ethics, data visualisation, robotics, cyber security, cognition and computation, big data, blockchain and the digital economy.
  • To showcase the collaboration projects, projects will feature in the Design Informatics Pavilion that will occupy George Street, Edinburgh which is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival programme. The interactive, architect designed space will allow visitors to explore the possibilities of designing with data.



We asked 24 of our best people to join this inaugural mission, originating from diverse fields across the Tesco Bank Digital Team, and the 2017/18 Design Informatics student cohort.

During the year, experts have been dropping in to offer provocative lectures to fire our imaginations with backgrounds in UX, Data Science, Engineering, Architecture, Product Design, Behavioural Sciences.


3 projects have emerged that we want to share:

Lens: explores people’s use of personal data. Allows users to run through a fictional job application journey, prompting them to either share or not share personal information. At the end of the application, users find out if their job application is successful and how their personal information shaped that decision.

Tess: explores uses of machine learning in order to help people to have financial wellbeing. Tess makes suggestions to users in order to help improve their financial wellbeing – for example – instead of buying a coffee, why not make one at home.

Deedit: a web app utilising gamification to facilitate small scale good deeds and in doing so offer up a cashless engagement solution for charities. Users will be encouraged to sign up and carry out small scale deeds such as picking up litter or giving a stranger directions, and document this by snapping and uploading a selfie. These small scale deeds help to add to up to bigger deeds and in doing so create positive community change. This project has teamed up with Social Bite, allowing a number of the deeds to directly support their work e.g. pay forward a meal or a coffee in Social Bite.

Sample talks by guest presenters

Project Mercury video by Edinburgh Innovations