Natalie Monko Lead Project Manager

    Design Thinking in Fintech: How Can You Increase Project Success Chances?

    To attract customers and generate revenues, finance and banking organizations have to address user issues while providing a seamless user experience. However, it is difficult to accomplish these goals when delivering products and services in a highly competitive market.

    In addition, many fintech startups and corporations strive to reach out to entirely new groups of users—the aging population, kids, people in developing countries or rural areas—who may have never accessed services such as personal wealth management, digital banking, insurance, or trading. In this context, it is crucial to ensure ease of onboarding besides adding value. 

    Design thinking enables companies to resolve existing challenges. Employing design thinking in fintech, it is much easier to develop applications that meet user needs and preferences. 

    At Surf, we apply design thinking to help our clients achieve success, improve customer loyalty, and gain profit. Continue reading to find out what design thinking is and how it can allow you to increase project success chances.

    What is design thinking in fintech?

    Design thinking is a process that aims to get a clear understanding of the audience’s needs and apply this knowledge in fintech software development. The main idea behind this approach is to communicate with users instead of hypothesizing about what they want.

    Design thinking in financial services focuses on building software solutions that are:

    • Desirable. The primary objective is to deliver a fintech software product that adds value to customers while ensuring a seamless customer experience.
    • Technically feasible. This means that a software system has to contain the functionality for performing the required tasks.
    • Economically viable. It is important to meet the budget when creating a fintech application.

    Basically, design thinking is employed in user experience design. However, since design thinking in finance assists in identifying the key requirements and finding the best solutions to existing problems, it is an essential stage in project implementation. Let’s take a look at the design thinking process.

    How is design thinking used in fintech app development?

    Overall, the process of design thinking in fintech includes the following stages.

    • Emphasize. Software experts research the pain points and preferences of potential customers. Thanks to this, personal assumptions are put away, and actual user needs are discovered. For this purpose, we at Surf, for example, conduct polls and surveys, read comments and testimonials for competitive products, as well as form user-centric groups for interviewing. 
    • Define. After collecting and analyzing accumulated information, the development team determines the core problems of the target audience. Then, specialists create user personas that describe what customers should be able to do in a fintech app.
    • Ideate. With a clear understanding of user needs, it becomes simple to figure out how to meet those needs in the best possible way by applying techniques such as brainstorming and reverse thinking. Furthermore, thanks to the competitive analysis, you can see how other companies address similar issues, as well as analyze how to apply recent industry trends.
    • Prototype. User interface (UI) / experience (UX) designers create a clickable prototype to visualize and let users “touch” the product.
    • Test. At this stage, user testing sessions are run to observe how customers interact with a prototype and gather feedback. As a result, the development team learns what should be improved, and necessary changes are introduced.

    Considering real-life examples, Bank of America applied design thinking in fintech to discover the issues experienced by middle-aged women having children. The organization assembled a team of experts to conduct user research, during which they interviewed consumers and observed dozens of families. 

    Soon, specialists found out that mothers were in charge of financial management in those families, while single mothers were often on a tight budget. To keep track of their expenses, survey participants generally employed checkbook registries, which was a common way before the widespread adoption of mobile banking apps. However, some women might round up numbers when paying bills to simplify calculations, which resulted in extra expenditures. 

    Aiming to improve customer service and automate spending management, the bank introduced the “Keep the Change” service that rounds up all transactions and sends the change to a savings account. With the program, Bank of America managed to attract 2 million users in less than a year. From then onward, over 12 million customers joined the service. What’s more, 99% of participants continued using the solution.

    Therefore, with design thinking in fintech software development, companies can:

    • obtain a crystal clear vision of user problems
    • define the best ways to solve issues and add value to the audience
    • recognize how it is possible to engage users at every touchpoint with a fintech app
    • build and improve the solution according to end-user feedback, thus creating a product that meets the audience’s needs and expectations.

    During the design thinking process, software experts at Surf also help finance and banking institutions prepare a technical specification, prioritize features, and outline a roadmap for delivery. Let’s take a look at how our team applied design thinking in finance software projects to help our clients achieve success.

    How Surf used design thinking to build successful fintech apps

    1. A mobile banking application

    When a large European bank came to our company, it already had a mobile app. However, the product was developed on the basis of an out-of-the-box solution. As a consequence, it was difficult to make the required upgrades and extend the system. 

    To address these issues, the customer wanted to build a new banking application from scratch while integrating it with the existing back-end. With the object of engaging and retaining customers, it was important to make a user-friendly design.

    After collecting and analyzing project specifications, our team conducted competitor analysis and researched the audience’s needs. By employing design thinking in fintech software development, we prioritized features and created a dynamic prototype. 

    Aiming to improve time to market and avoid the need to deliver unnecessary functionality, our software engineers built a minimum viable product (MVP) and then introduced various customizations according to end-user feedback. Over the two years of development, we have enhanced the initial design and addressed some user pain points.

    Our software experts have also delivered complex features from scratch, including fast payments and customer identity verification. In addition, we integrated the solution with the public information system for regional and local payments in Russia. In the end, with design thinking in financial services, the organization was able to increase customer satisfaction and retention rate, as well as boost efficiency. 

    If you are thinking about building a mobile banking app, you can read our dedicated article describing the main product features and budget you should have.

    2. A cryptocurrency trading app

    With the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, our client recognized the opportunity to build a crypto trading solution, attract the audience, and help them generate profit. Cooperating with Surf, the startup aimed to launch a mobile application for smartphones and tablets that would suit both beginners and qualified traders.

    First and foremost, we analyzed project requirements and delved into the industry specifics. For this purpose, we asked a software expert specializing in online trading to conduct lectures. This way, our software engineers learned the nuances of complex orders and trading. 

    To identify top-priority features to meet user preferences, we researched 10 popular cryptocurrency exchanges. Then, our experts created accounts on different platforms to find out how visitors interact with them from registration to fund withdrawal. This allowed us to get a clear understanding of how to improve the user experience when making our own crypto trading service. 

    For instance, as traders spend hours per day—and often at nights—working with the product, we designed a dark theme to spare their eyes. Our designers also employed a yellow and orange palette for active elements, as these colors do not interfere with melatonin production when using the app in the evening.

    To satisfy the needs of both parties, our fintech software developers implemented two versions: a mobile application for newbies, who rarely use advanced capabilities, and a tablet version for professional traders. 

    While the first solution allows for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, viewing portfolio statistics, monitoring the state of open positions, the app for traders is a fully-fledged trading terminal with an order book, a list of orders, charts, and technical indicators.

    As an outcome, by applying design thinking in fintech, the company managed to ensure a seamless user experience and gain a competitive advantage. To learn more about the project, read our case study.

    Summing up

    With design thinking in fintech software development, you will significantly increase project success chances. By applying this approach, financial services companies can gain insights into end-user needs and preferences, as well as discover the best ways to meet them. As a result, organizations build software products that bring value while ensuring an engaging user experience.

    Thanks to design thinking, our team has already delivered dozens of software solutions to fintech organizations. This practice also assists our software experts in identifying key features and outlining an implementation roadmap.

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