Guest blog post: Bringing the human touch to banking apps
The way we use banking services has gone digital. Still, the services often feel cold and distant. Is it possible to give them the human touch?
Right now, people's expectations of apps and digital services are changing rapidly. Look at apps like Airbnb and Uber - they've been game-changing in their industries because a great digital user experience is integral to their brands. Naturally, this has left more traditional firms looking rather old-fashioned.
That's why Aktia, Tieto and Adventure Club got together in April to explore how banks can keep up with their customers' changing expectations in digital, and to rapidly prototype our ideas for the next generation of banking apps. Our role was to provide concept and design work, as well as to look at the industry's challenges with outsider's eyes.
This kind of collaboration is very different to the way banks normally work. But as agile and innovative new entrants start to disrupt this and other industries, we think it's the wave of the future - a way to respond fast to market trends, and to bring the human touch to complex digital services.
The devil is in the microinteractions
It's difficult to be inventive in banking apps without regulations getting in the way. Banks don't have much leeway in the way they communicate with customers and use their data, and the same is true of many other industries, too.
Nonetheless, it's still possible to make the process of using a banking app more fun, which in turn makes the brand as a whole more approachable. It all starts with focusing on the small interactions that make the experience intuitive. We barely notice microinteractions most of the time, but these are often what separate great products from merely good ones.
For example, scrolling up to the top of a page to refresh feels natural and human compared to pressing a button, because you'd normally do this to see new content anyway. This is something that should become apparent during testing, and creating great microinteractions means observing and interviewing users about their experiences.
With Aktia project it turned out that our testers got excited when we added simple, graphical tools to the equation. So we gave them a savings calculator to play with, allowing them to see visually how much money they'd save over time.
Banks might not currently see this as a way to set themselves apart in the market. But as today's best apps show, an innovative user experience can fundamentally change how we see value in a service.
This is just one example of the innovation that can occur when different viewpoints collide and user is placed in the centre. The XHub process makes this a natural part of the development cycle, and even if there aren't rules and regulations to overcome, it can result in surprising and exciting discoveries.
Banks and other traditional firms currently have plenty of opportunities to build delightful digital services for their customers. And with new EU laws on the way to change their information-sharing obligations, if they don't get there first, someone else will.
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