During my year in Australia I was a part of a few different projects and products for Bankwest. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to relocate to a beautiful part of the world and I hope this resource can be helpful for anyone starting out as a designer in Fintech.
Fintech stands for financial technology and there are around “400 fintech companies based in all Australian State and Territory capitals” - Fintech Australia. All of these companies are looking to improve human finance.
What the fintech
In an industry that that is increasingly difficult to understand, Banks, Credit Unions, and Financial Institutions are being held accountable to educate customers on forming better spending habits.
Apps like Square Cash, Venmo, Mint, Simple are paving the way for Fintech and pushing financial institutions to improve. Customers now expect a seamless interaction and if institutions can not provide a frictionless experience customers are looking elsewhere.
Designing for an industry as old as 2000BC
Everyday in Fintech designers are tackling real world problems. Not all of the problems are exciting and often issues are within old or outdated documents, confusing jargon to the customers, and legal regulations that do not make sense. This year I learned upfront discovery work can make a big difference in identifying the real problems.
With rules and regulations that sometimes seem as old as 2000BC, most of the time these rules are there to protect customers, other times it can leave designers pondering what they were thinking. For Banks to comply with these rules and regulations they often are required to capture a lot around customers information. Sometimes there is not a way around this but if you can challenge a decision you feel is not right, speak up. I have found a lot of times the regulations are not taking into consideration on how the customer digests it.
Jargon words are thrown around the banks that only make sense to someone working in the industry. I learn the jargon so I can keep up with internal employees but I do not recommend using them in applications. It does not make sense to the normal population as I have found through user testing.
Leave no room for ambiguity
In an industry that is confusing for most customers, instructions and designs need to be clear. Explaining why you are asking for data or why the data you are displaying is relevant can make a big difference. I work with our copywriter to insure everything is easily digestible. We always run the copy by our customers during testing to receive initial feedback.
Everyone needs or uses money in one way or another. Accessibility should always be taken into consideration when designing. In my opinion this goes far beyond the screen. Billions of people are living with a disability that is far beyond color, fonts, and the basic accessibility rules that designers read about in every post. When we start implementing ideas like voice user interfaces (VUI) I believe that is when we will make our applications truly accessible and in my opinion banks need to be accountable for this.
This is my number one advice for any new teams in Fintech. Design teams should always be collecting feedback from customers and internal colleagues. When a change is needed it needs be brought to stakeholders attention by what the customers want not what an engineer, designer, or employee wants.
Australian fintech & conclusion
There are hundreds of articles out there stating traditional banks are playing catch-up with the Fintech industry. I would argue that in Australia startups are playing catch-up with the big banks. The start-ups simply do not have the customer base as the big banks. A few of the banks here are far ahead of banks in the US and UK. Commonwealth, ING, and ANZ all continue to highly invest in design.
Fintech is continuing to explode and banks need to embrace the change. A lot of Fintechs do not have the capital or customer base so traditional banks need to be looking for partnerships or acquisitions. The more we can help the general population manage their money and create trust in the banks the better off everyone will be.