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Lessons from Fintech Design Summit 2018

Livia Thimotheo
Reading Time:
3 minutes

Last Friday Judit and I went to the first ever Fintech Design Summit at the futuristic Cavendish Conference Centre. 

It was great to catch up with Dock9 alum, colleagues, friends and generally network. 

The main lesson I learned at the conference is that user testing is not a unique selling point anymore. Most tech companies have understood that if they don’t test their designs with real users they’ll lose them to the competition. Some even have their in-house usability testing lab and users arriving weekly to test their designs.

Fintech Design summit

The solution? Blockchain, as always! 

Joke apart, incumbents have felt the heat from startups and embraced their mentality and are trying to catch up by either buying or creating their own “Digital Transformation” teams. That is great news for us working in fintech and for the users, of course, because whoever understand their pain points earlier, wins. Switching (or not switching) is more of an emotional choice rather than rational one. 

Since the Financial Crisis of 2007 - 2008, the little trust people used to have on financial services crumbled even more, opening space for different types of financial services which leverage the new technology we have now (smartphones being the main one so far). An example of that is the emergence of the sharing economy and budget digital services such as Monzo.

We learned from both sides and here are just some of the highlights.

Tom Crossman VP of Design at Habito, who we interviewed last year, started the day talking about how important it is to understand the different emotional states (fear, confusion etc) the users are likely to be in during the lengthy mortgage process and design accordingly. 


In the meantime I was at the Open Banking panel where Francesco Simoneschi, Sylvain Reiter and Marc Bexter were listing the challenges this new standard is currently facing. The big banks are not ready and worst of all, most people are not comfortable with the idea of sharing their banking details with other services, no matter how secure they are. For years they have been told not to! Users need to be re-educated somehow.

Fintech Design summit

Marie Steinthaler from Zopa provoked us to think of more meaningful UX metrics.  Move away from number of registrations, for instance, to something that actually represents the users’ happiness. One example is Couchsurfing’s success formula (positive hours spent together - hours spent searching for couch / total duration of the trip).

Another highlight was Capital One’s Gavin Holland reminding us to be inclusive not just in terms of accessibility, but inviting a more diverse team to the design discovery phase. Customer Service Officers often are the ones who understand the needs of the user better than anyone in the company.


Finally, Duncan Lamb reminded us to leverage peak end bias to remind the users why they chose a certain service, for example “You’ve just saved x using our service”.

We returned inspired and full of ideas on how to make our UX design process even better for our clients and their users. In fact, we’ve already suggested a more in depth research technique we learned to a client we’re currently working with (Big one! Stay tuned for the announcement).

Livia Thimotheo

Livia is a UX Designer at Dock9. She's worked in digital products in the financial sector including applications, websites and chatbots. The Design of Everyday Things was her first design book and it completely changed the way she sees the world.