I spoke to Matt Snyman, Curve's head designer to find out his thoughts on designing for FinTech. Here's what he had to say:
In no uncertain terms there has been a 'great unbundling' in the financial space. An impressive combination of technology and regulatory changes has made it easier than ever to create financial service products that can compete with the banks. Old storied institutions that we've trusted with our money since before any of us were born are now competing for customers with tech startups. Challenger banks, online payment solutions, peer-to-peer lending, crowd investing, Forex... The list goes on. The banks are drowning in a sea of plucky upstarts.
But what has this got to with design? Well, in Curve's development we needed to figure out who we were and how we wanted to be seen. And the following are the Fintech design lessons I learnt along the way.
Well that got your attention. Financial design can be boring. But for good reason. These are the businesses that look after your money. Their design needs to be functional, solid, respectful, safe, concise, clean. In this sense boring is what your customer has come to expect. Boring therefore makes the rules. So as Picasso once said, "learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
Habits are hard to break
On its most basic level, Curve is a payment card that is all your cards in one. We want our users to feel that they have a little piece of technological wizardry in their pocket. But it's a very fine line. We initially went with a look that made the card feel more like a gadget.
But the card looked too different from a real card. It didn't 'feel' secure enough. So we made it more closely resemble a regular card. This made it feel legitimate to our test users. This effect was also helped by the fact that Curve is a MasterCard Card and carried the inherent trust implied by the red and yellow circles. So in this case (for us) customer expectations for what a card should look and feel like trumped gadgetry.
Make a beautiful box
Give your brand a designated space to play. Make guidelines and stick to them. Consistent design builds trust. But within this branded box of design leave some space to play. In the case of Curve we see the Curve card as just the beginning, we want to open up a whole universe of financial opportunities for our customers. So build your box with the future in mind.
And then of course more literally, just make a beautiful box! The unboxing of your new Curve card should feel special. We've worked really hard at getting that Christmas morning experience just right...
Learn to walk before you dance
Starting out with a new product, you are an unknown quantity, so before you push out crazy designs and videos about the future of finance, you want to slow down and start with the basics. Hi I'm Curve, and I can do these things that make your life easier. The flashy dance moves can come later.
Delight is delightful
Now I know I've stressed restraint in designing a financial product. But this is the part where you break the rules and colour outside the lines. Delight is hard to quantify, it can be a clever animation in a loading bar, a neat visual, a quirky error message, or even prompt customer service. It's the moments where your customers see the human touch. So plan these moments carefully!
I'm sure there's many more creative and design lessons to come as Curve grows and I look forward to sharing them on this blog.