Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. Discover how to build Fintech products that empower people, or risk becoming obsolete.

by Jason Reid Scott, Creative Director, YML

There was a time when finances felt vaguely ‘over there,’ locked behind buildings and accessible only via in-person encounters, the regular ATM visit, or a balance check over the phone.

Well, thanks to Fintech (online financial services and apps), a lot has changed in the past decade. Whether it’s buying fractional shares of expensive stock, getting approved for a loan in real-time, or transferring money to friends and family without breaking out a checkbook or visiting an ATM, new ways to grow and manage money directly have put the power in people’s hands. In this way, money has never been more personal. 

With that comes an incredible amount of trust that these products (and the companies behind them) have to take seriously. Companies can no longer coast off of carefully crafted brand promises, no matter how eloquent. No one cares about that promise if the product experiences suck. 

Design Matters

Always has, always will. Aesthetics are not lost on your users, so they shouldn’t be lost on you. While great UX will help design feel seamless (and therefore non-existent), the ‘Aesthetic-Usability Effect’ is the idea that sleek, well-balanced design conveys a greater sense of usability. And while we wouldn’t recommend looks over substance, the thing to note is that a visually delightful experience inspires confidence.

Fintech apps are, more often than not, primarily data. And while quantitative information may sound boring, it can look sexy — when it’s done right. Taking time to imagine elements as beautiful and compelling can have transformative effects. Thoughtful interactions and a touch of motion, for example, can instantly elevate experiences from expected to exceptional.

More than just aesthetics, design is a practice that enables organizations to develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and goals. In this way, exceptional design supports great business bycreating the emotional connections necessary for building and maintaining lasting relationships. Simply put, design matters. Always has, always will.

An example of a brand that is doing it right is Robinhood. Their app experience has stunning visual design, polished animations, interactions, and excellent use of haptic feedback.

Inclusivity Matters

We’re a diverse population. We come from various backgrounds and cultures. We’re old and young. Some of us grew up on digital and some of us didn’t. Some of us see the little things, while some of us… cannot see at all. Some of us are deaf or have difficulty hearing. Some of us have cognitive disabilities, and some of us have physical ones.

Many of us require assistive technologies to experience a digital product (gesture-based screen readers for us with visual impairments, closed-captioning for video and audio playback for us with hearing impairments, voice control, and customized gestures for us with cognitive or physical challenges, etc. ). We ask, what is more innovative than creating a digital product that can provide value across a range of needs, benefiting us all? Inclusive design doesn’t preclude innovation, on the contrary, it defines it. 

Aside from being the right thing to do, inclusive design is good for business. The global market of people with disabilities is over $1 billion, with a spending power of more than $6 trillion. In the US alone, the annual discretionary spending of people with disabilities is over $200 billion. That, and, well… it’s the law.

Ultimately, we are all human, but we are very much unique. Remembering that builds trust. (Not breaking the law. Also super helpful.)For more information, check out:

Personalization Matters 

People value personal interactions. It shows you’re listening; it shows you care. Doing the opposite, does the opposite.

Tailoring experiences to a customer’s specific needs — wherever possible — is crucial. What stocks are appropriate for my desired risk? What financial products should we consider based on our current credit rating? How might we improve our financial health? Etc.

Remember, we’re all different. Skip traditional demographics (age, gender, race, income, etc.). Instead, synthesize behavioral data through predictive analytics, AI, and machine learning to reach customers in real-time with contextually relevant content. It’s not just understanding who they are, but also where they are and more importantly, where they want to go.

Fintech matters when the people who make it, make it personal.

An exceptional example of a brand that is doing it right is the Royal Bank of Canada. Their product named NOMI (from 'know me') is a package of personalized tools that reveal real-time insights, automate savings, provide customized budgeting tools, and chatbot interaction.

Quality Support Matters

Trust is knowing you can rely on people when you need them most. That fact is the very foundation on which Fintech is built.

Consider an example outside of financial services. Let’s say you are out for a meal (when we actually used to go out to dinner) and the food is okay, yet the service is impeccable. The restaurant server is warm, considerate, and knowledgeable, educating you about each dish. Their enthusiasm is contagious and enhances your meal experience. Will you come back? Likely. Fintech product support is no different.

Lousy customer support leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Excellent customer support builds trust. 

If quality support is there when you need it, people will come back and — more than likely — recommend the brand to others.

From email, being the slowest and least personal, to direct messaging or video chat with your banker, being the most dynamic and high-touch, there are several methods of digital support; getting each one right is paramount.

A great example of a brand that is doing it right is First Republic Bank. They provide an omnipresent button throughout their app experience that quickly allows clients to access their bankers and wealth managers. They can do so through email, text, and even video chats.

Here’s the thing about trust: It takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.

Inspired by that thought, I’m reminded that trust is not only invaluable but something we literally must account for when designing product experiences, especially financial services. I hope this article inspires fellow designers, developers, and product managers in the Fintech space to integrate some of the concepts and pillars into their own processes. And if you need help, get in touch. Ultimately, I believe these kinds of ideas have the power to positively transform people’s experiences. And that, well… that’s all that really matters.


Illustration by Sadhvi Konchada

About the Author

Jason Scott is a hands-on Creative Director at YML with over a decade of experience designing digital products. He began his career as an Interaction Designer with Mural.co while they were a startup in residence at IDEO. He was also the Co-founder and Lead Designer at Appsperse, which was acquired by AdRoll. Since then, he has worked with companies such as Key Bank, Thrivent Financial, Clover, Game Stop, BitTorrent, Pure Storage and Dolby Cinema. Throughout his experience he has noted that long-term trust is the most important asset a brand can earn. 

Beyond his creative product work, Jason enjoys sharing time with his wife (high-school sweetheart), rock climbing, beat making, cooking competition bbq ribs and making funny YouTube videos. Jason’s favorite thing to do in life is walk, seriously he loves walking—a lot.