The Importance of UX in the Financial Services Industry

In 2016, it's difficult to surprise anyone with underlying technology. Open APIs, infinite flow of information, diversity of available talent and availability of technology takes competition to the next level today, when user experience (UX) is really what defines success.

The idea that the greatest tech companies aren't really tech says a lot about the importance of design and the user journey as a success factor. These starlings each in its own niche, companies like Uber, Airbnb, PayPal, Amazon, are all successful in the minds of their customers not as much because of the operational excellence and technology strength behind their solutions, but because of the enticing & seamless UX.

As the UK government said, good services are verbs, bad services are nouns, which Uber and Venmo have proved to be true. As the British authority further elaborates, To a user, a service is something that helps them to do something – like learn to drive, buy a house, or become a childminder. Notice these are all verbs.

While FinTech startups are so far at the forefront of designing superior in-app user journeys. banks traditionally have been struggling to be as fascinating in building proprietary banking apps. Customer experience design, however, can have a significant impact on the way financial institutions deliver their services and thus result in varying customer satisfaction.

As a Aden Davies, financial services specialist in CX Design & FinTech, commented in one of his interviews,

The design has to be everything if you want to really call yourself customer-centric and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror. The capabilities digital technologies present today, widespread mobile broadband, smartphone in everyone’s hand, ever progressing web technologies delivering richer experiences, mean that service offerings should get better and better. They should be capable of allowing a customer to finish applications end to end easily there and then or staggered and finished when it suits the customer.

The financial industry is not traditionally associated with values such as user experience, transparency and innovation. Maybe because of the legacy systems, regulatory constraints, and only minor attention to design & UI/UX amongst developer teams, banking apps have always been stuck in layers of text over text, complex transitions and other repelling features.

Most thoughtful FinTech solutions today, on the contrary, are lean, but surprisingly empowering. They are simple, yet allow for intuitive self-service. Most importantly, they are transparent and communicate the delivered value in an easily ‘consumable’ way for a wide audience. Frictionless UX that FinTech startups have been able to build facilitates service usage by eliminating the pain of the problem that needs to be solved.

Some FinTech UX professionals have been emphasizing three important UX trends boosting the success of financial technology applications, among which are:

Creating transparent and frictionless customer journeys with user-centric design.

Brian Solis, one of the prominent thought leaders in new technology, digital marketing and culture shifts, believes that frictionless customer journey is among the most important retail banking trends in 2016.

In 2016, and over the years to come, retail banking will lean on UX (user experience) to design more than a ‘mobile first’ experience. Experience architects will rethink what a bank is and what it means to digital-first and mobile-only customers, designing an entirely new set of products that will lead to new types of relationships. It’s innovation and disruption over iteration. The ‘uber of banking’ is imminent, he shared.

Increased understanding of the virtue of usability studies.

Kevin Lee, VP, Head of Design at Visa, shared his reflection of two years at Visa earlier this year with an emphasis on the design team culture. As Lee said, Stop treating design as a noun. Design is a verb.

Mastering the design of big data-powered dashboards.

The role of big data is particularly important in successful FinTech solutions in terms of user interface and experience. Modern PFM apps, challenger bank apps and any funds management solutions developed by FinTech startups have been very successful in visualizing personal financial data in transparent and easy-to-understand ways. The dashboard has replaced pages and tables, improving financial literacy and fostering responsible attitude towards financial planning.