May 11, 2021
This post was originally published on April 12th on Mindspark's Greenbook Channel, The UX Factor.
The days of going to the bank out of necessity to withdraw cash for your lunch or to post money for upcoming bills are long gone. To some, it might seem like it was just yesterday when this was the basic reality, but for most of the current and upcoming generations, it will soon become folklore as Financial Technology (Fintech) has now arrived, offering a new wave of financial solutions and limitless accessibility to banking and investing.
Fintech, which requires no physical brick and mortar spaces, offers mass products and services, 24/7, all at the click of a button. With banking made this convenient and straightforward, the Fintech industry is just starting to catch fire. In 2019 alone, consumers accessed finance apps over one trillion times, while registration for Fintech apps grew by 71%. That is not all: Fintech adoption rates have doubled every two years, rising from 16% in 2015 to 64% in 2019. The industry is now expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% through 2022, reaching a market value of $309 billion – an impressive cluster of figures, to say the least.
To some, the answer is simple – ease of use. For those with a keen eye, the answer is two-fold. While it is in fact true that Fintech models do offer solutions to modern banking concerns by offering better interest rates, contactless payment (Square), decentralized cross-border payment (Cryptocurrency), dissolved transaction fees, and providing more access to young investors (Robinhood, Wealthsimple), we must not overlook some of the primary components leading to their success – user design, interfacing, and usability. Or, as I like to call it, the ‘lifeblood’ of Fintech.
In a world where everyone is trying to “solve-problems” as a means of starting a business, we forget that solution-orientated thinking is not the only success factor. What happens if you have a wonderful product, but when people get on your website, they can’t figure out how it functions or worse, where and how to purchase your product? They leave – that is what happens.
Solving problems is not enough anymore; you also need high usability, a high degree of usefulness, and, of course, an intuitive design. Financial technology platforms have found a way to blend all of these factors into an easy-to-use, engaging model. On some platforms, saving plans and investing tools have taken pages out of some foundational principles in the education system, using “gamification” to make something like saving money to buy a home similar to a Nintendo game. At its core, gamification is used to engage learners by designing tasks as if students were beating a video game.
Fintech apps offer a similar concept, such as awarding badges for completing savings plans (like reaching a high score in Pacman), or providing money meters every time you invest (similar to collecting coins in Super Mario) and infusing aesthetically pleasing data presentations and visuals (video game graphics rule the gaming world). To a greater extent, some cryptocurrency and trading platforms have even created environments similar to that of online casinos, complemented by intuitive navigation, effortless procedures, coloured charting, and of course, dollar signs. Not so boring, is it?
We live in a time when if we decide we want something, we want it to happen right now. We do notlike to wait anymore – imagine waiting for your Amazon Prime packages for more than 48 hours. What a horrific catastrophe! Well, interface and UX design now allow money transfers to cater to this need. Moving money is as easy as a click of a button or a tap of a phone. Splitting food with friends or paying your phone bill is easier than we could have imagined. In fact, digital payments are the leading force for Fintech as the transaction value grew to $5.2 trillion in 2020 and is projected to reach $6.6 trillion in 2021. Yes, that is a lot of dough, but when it’s this easy to spend money (by design, of course), it is not hard to see why Fintech has not only emerged but flourished in the modern world.
Undoubtedly, Fintech is offering solutions to some of the problems we see in traditional banking, so its popularity comes as no surprise. Not to mention that more and more millennials are exclaiming their dislike and distrust of traditional banking models from the rooftops, which happens to be the industry’s key target market. But at its core, Fintech isn’t just solving problems for one group or social class. It is displaying its usefulness and blending effortless browsing, sleek presentations, and engaging designs. In reality, Fintech and UX/UI design represent a perfect pair, the perfect couple of ‘thoughtful creation’ and ‘solution-oriented thinking.’ Separately, they are some of the highest sought-after services, but together, they are changing the face of a now outdated business model. And what better way to do it than with the one thing we all share in common: money.