Fintech has become obsessed with “design” and UI in recent years. Differentiation has become increasingly focused on how FinTech firms look different rather than how they differentiated their value propositions are. In fact, it’s becoming hard to actually work out what the difference is between many FinTech companies at this point.
But there is an inherent problem with this approach, traditional app and UI design have focussed on creating a space people will want to spend time in and enjoy using. The idea is to maximize their usage and time in-app so you can monetize it. But literally (and figuratively) no one wants to talk to their bank or financial institution unless they have to and then they want to do it on their terms and have it over and done with asap. This is not Facebook people.
In many ways, fancy app UI tricks and treats hide very generic and undifferentiated value propositions. It’s cool to move money around with your finger touching gold bars to be sure (Beam) but what I want what I really really want is just a high-interest rate and no hassle.
Possibly the most important and definitely the most successful Fintech play of all time is Vanguard. Their UX is awful, borderline unusable, yet they are managing what now ~$5trillion or so of the world’s wealth.
You see given the choice of a bank that pays great returns but still works off parchment and quill pens and one that pays zip all but has a wizzy fun app the former is going to attract more than its fair share of customers all being equal.
This is not a Luddite’s cry for a return of the good old days and corner banks with clerks a la Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, far from it. It is, however, a cry for FinTech to focus on better value for money and product innovation than conventional financial services and a good enough app to go with it and not an app over a traditional financial product alone.