Tips for designing Fintech Products

Author

Luke Medlock

We’ve focussed a lot of our attention on Fintech products over the last year. Why? Simply, to help drive positive change in a sector that effects everyone. We meet like-minded founders and help them shape the future of financial technologies. We’re designing products that meet people where they are, remove red tape and ultimately making finance inclusive and accessible.

Understanding user behaviours & experience

User Experience only really comes into conversation when you’re talking about designing an app or a website. But that’s pretty mad, seeing as a user’s experience includes the collection of exposures and events that happened prior to them arriving at your ‘solution’.

UX is rightly about designing focused on the user, but often people focus on the user’s current behaviours from the moment they engage with your product - forgetting that the experiences and pains these users have been exposed to already have shaped the behavioural patterns they will follow in your product.

Just because a user does it, doesn’t mean its efficient, ethical or helpful. Learnt behaviours can be harmful to a user - take the automatic action to tick a terms and conditions read-box without reading, or the huge time swamps that are infinity scrolling ‘social’ mediums - we’ve all fallen to both of these.

We can only create great user experiences when we understand the motivation that guides their action. BJ Fogg’s behaviour model robustly extends with environmental influences. The model says that for behaviour to occur, we need motivation, ability, and a trigger. So to create meaningful, useful experiences that encourage repeat use we need to understand what’s caused a user to arrive at your product (e.g. drivers, triggers, demographics) and discover their ability (e.g. financial, physical, knowledge) to meet them where they are in their journey to solving a problem. 

Remember, this is real life

Sounds odd saying ‘real life’ but the products we choose to design aren’t gimmicks or time fillers. These are problems that people are facing daily and our solutions impact people's day-to-day living. As a result, they must be treated with the utmost respect in that what we design could create permanent behaviours and ultimately dictate how someone lives their life.

Red tape & compliance

Theres a lot of regulations surrounding finance, shock, but they are there in the most part to protect users and remove doubt. The two main checks are Know Your Customer (KYC), and Anti-Money-Laundering (AML).

KYC is all about understanding the person who is wanting to use your service. This is where the eyes roll from a user perspective, in short its form filing. This is why onboarding and account creation is a real value proposition for neo banks - what took a day trip and long conversations in a branch, now takes minutes without speaking. AML is less user-intense. It’s more of a background and ongoing task to ensure money and users aren’t linked to crime, such as fraud or money laundering. 

Almost all Fintech products will have to abide by these regulations, and although it's a chaotic realm of red tape, it creates opportunity for slick user experiences to make long-winded processes now seamless. 

Even though these checks can be done much quicker than the prior legacy processes, the information required remains the same and that can be a cause for cognitive overload for a user. This is where we introduce ‘just in time’ design - only ask for what is required for the specific moment of interaction. Break up the legalities into digestible sections that a user can follow and understand without concentrating. 

Fintech users aren’t people under 30. It’s people who have a pain with their current way of handing something tied their money. Sounds obvious, but so many people are left behind in the world of financial technology simply because the learning curve being presented is too great - take a look at a handful of stock market, investment and trading platforms on the app stores. In our current COVID world, and no doubt the ‘new normal’ when things calm down, tackling life online will be a set behaviour for the masses. So more than ever, we need to empower users making that change with knowledge to drive their confidence in our platforms.

Architecting a solution

To be a designer for Fintech products, you can’t rely on nice patterns and micro interactions. You have to understand how to construct a system from scratch, it’s end-to-end architecture, researching constantly what’s out there, learning the pros and cons of integrated software, and piecing together a flow that works in the favour of your users whilst meeting business goals and requirements. Once you have this in place, you can then sensibly begin mapping out the specific product flows within the limitations of the technology being used - a necessity in digital product design. 

It's a volatile marketplace 

A successful Fintech app needs to be future proof. Granted, that’s what all platforms want to achieve, but for Fintechs it’s crucial. It’s a market that fluctuates dramatically and constantly with a tendency to throw curveballs based on economics, policies, and lifestyle trends. 

In the UK, we’re seeing a whole swarm of startups popping up and challenging the way finance is done here. Existing banks, insurers, brokers and other finance based firms are all having to play catch up with the technologies that are being widely used by these disruptive startups and are investing heavily into the space. But both startups and long standing financial institutions have to bend and move with the times to stay relevant and useful to users. Brexit alone has forced so many companies to change business models to flex with the new legislation surrounding trade, and have had to do so whilst trying to not let the effects fall on their users. 

From a design stance, this is why every product we touch is built using a design system. We know change is always on the horizon, and pairing design with strategy, business and technology gives Fintech firms the best chance of longevity. 

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