Fintech Design Summit 2018: 5 takeaways

By Ana Crespo, Jennifer Robinson-Bird

If you were struggling to get buy in from product owners, designers, or someone who didn’t understand the benefit of research, the Fintech Design Summit was a great event to persuade them.

The Fintech Design Summit, hosted by Tech Circus, was a collection of talks around the latest fintech trends and topics, from designers to product teams. The conference attracted top thought leaders, engaging speakers, and relevant topics. 

If you needed to help stakeholders understand how important research is, and how all your competitors are probably maximising their products through research this was a great event for that.

Here are our 5 key takeaways from the Fintech Design Summit:

1. Deploy user research to improve and learn, not just to check homework

Testing designs with potential users is now a given for major financial organisations, all the major banks are doing it. Several speakers declared research as ‘commonplace’ and that all the big banks were doing research as part of their review processes.

Phil Morton, Head of Strategy at Foolproof, raised the point that organisations need to do more than test prototypes to stand out from competitors. Organisations need to understand their customers to identify areas for improvement, and constantly learn and iterate.  

Tom Crossman, VP of Product at Habito, exemplified this in his case study on Habito. Habito conducted initial research to identify opportunities. Now that they have a live product, they track customer feedback and conduct A/B testing to learn and iterate. A combination of methodologies is key to going beyond user testing.

2.  Gain a deep understanding of the business

A thorough understanding of the business is useful when designing systems for any industry, but fintechs have particularly complex business models. There are strict security and legal requirements that do not affect other sectors. For instance, the new GDPR legislation requires banks to implement two factor authentication (2FA). How can organisations offer a good customer experience while meeting security requirements?

Phil Bonhard, Customer Experience Lead at Lloyds, stressed that biometrics and a redesigned log in process that anticipates customers’ needs can make a difference. But that’s no easy feat.

Gavin Holland, Design Manager at Capital One, recommended involving a diverse group of stakeholders in the design process, from engineers to customer service representatives. Harnessing the knowledge of different people in an organisation is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of a business and being able to design complex solutions.

3. Embrace the power of data

Financial transactions generate a massive amount of data, but traditional banks aren’t currently leveraging it. Anne Boden, CEO and Founder of Starling Bank, described how the business model of banks is built on percentages, fees, and upsells. In contrast, many fintechs have data at their core. Starling analyses every transaction and uses algorithms to generate product suggestions that are relevant to customers. 

Open Banking has changed the way traditional banks operate, by requiring them to open up customers’ data through secure APIs. Francesco Simoneschi, CEO and Co-Founder of True Layer, described how, at the customer's request, banks have to share the data they hold with authorised third parties. This creates opportunities to provide new services, like account aggregation or spending insights, which are currently only offered by challenger banks like Starling or Monzo.

4. Understand how customers feel to deliver the best possible experience

The speakers highlighted that platforms, products, and organisations do not exist in a vacuum: customers will approach them with their own expectations, perceptions, concerns and fears. 

Elisabeth Grothe-Møller, Head of Design of bitcoin platform wemovecoins.com, reminded us that people tend to distrust financial companies, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis. Phil Morton shared a piece of insight that he’s heard countless times during research: that customers believe banks are all the same.

Mike Giepert, Creative Director of Wealthsimple, illustrated with a personal anecdote how money can be an extremely emotional experience for those who don’t have a lot of it.

When it comes to financial products, understanding the journeys is not enough: we need to investigate how people will feel when they approach them at different points, and design with that in mind.

5. You'll make mistakes, the key is how you handle them

People and companies fail often. According to Åste Einn, CDO and Co-Founder of the Norwegian startup Payr, we can use mistakes to our advantage. In one of the most personal and engaging talks of the summit, Einn argued that we need to design products with failure in mind: people use our systems, and people are prone to error. A company, built and managed by humans, will also fail often.

In the case of fintechs, which deal with people’s money, failures can generate a great deal of stress among customers. Companies can reduce the risk of failure by testing and failing often. And of course, by handling mistakes quickly and effectively. Einn personally called some Payr customers to understand the problems they were experiencing shortly after they launched their app. Tracking customers’ feedback and acting upon it is key for companies to learn and grow. 

Phil Morton’s talk “Bridging the brand-experience gap” was written up and shared on Medium and his slides can be found on Slideshare.

Ensure you don't miss the next Fintech Design Summit by following @FDSummit on Twitter. 

Ana Crespo

As a Consultant at Foolproof, I help organisations understand their customers so they can deliver better experiences for them. This involves dozens of hours speaking with users, trying to understand how they work, shop, communicate, bank or enjoy their spare time. In short, trying to appreciate how they live.

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Jennifer Robinson-Bird

As a Consultant at Foolproof I regularly conduct research and gather insights; whilst working collaboratively with the rest of the project team to develop the user experience.

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