Essentials to Good e-Financial Services UX

Antony Morris,

Board Member of FinTech Association of Hong Kong

Essentials to Good e-Financial Services UX

What really is FinTech?

We are pleased to have a chance to talk with Antony Morris, Board Member of FinTech Association. Antony has been fortunate to work with some of the leading digital services, including Octopus card, an early pioneer in everyday simplicity.
On the term FinTech, Antony reckons that people focus too much on the technology side of FinTech. Actually technology is just an enabler. He stresses that the whole thing about FinTech is you are fundamentally trying to make people’s life easier, so much easier that they willingly change their behavior. “If you are trying to change customers’ behaviour, you don’t have to be a little bit better, you need to be ten times better,” said Antony emphatically. He added that the usual pain point in our banking experiences is we tend to “add things on”, from the branch to the call center, to online, and then to the smartphone. But actually the opportunity now is to do the exactly opposite. Antony highlighted three essential criteria to create a great user experience (UX):

  • Really Useful
  • Really Useable
  • Really Reliable

Really Useful (& Helpful)

Fundamentally, great UX design starts with meeting a real need, which may be a hidden need. “As creators we are actually custodians for the needs of customers, which is a burden and a responsibility. We are obsessed with knowing what people really need, what they really do, how they worry about money, what might make them worry less and what can make their life easier,” said Antony. He quoted the Octopus card as a classic example of meeting the needs of the community. For anybody from 3 to 93, they could just use the same card for any mode of transport and most small payments.

A more recent example is HSBC’s PayMe. The inspired product owner and team behind PayMe took a need that is very local – splitting the bill with friends and colleagues when you eat out (especially as its very likely the one person with the special dining offer or “jeuk so” (著數) will be the one that has paid for everyone).

AliPay solved the hurdle of paying for goods on TaoBao first, but is now essential traveling in the mainland and really useful for whole range of needs here in Hong Kong, including by far the easiest bill presentment and payment Antony has experienced in Hong Kong. WeChat Pay first delighted through virtual red-packets, but now like AliPay is also pretty essential for traveling in the mainland and has add a whole range of uses here.

Really Usable & Simple

Since Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, there started to be really intuitive apps for different needs and people grow used to user experiences being delightful, intuitive and simple. FinTech is about making the technology disappear. Again the Octopus Card is a good example. Antony explained that the technology underneath is very complicated – over a dozen calculations in 300 milli-seconds. However, Octopus deliberately never talks about technology. The great technologists at Octopus hid the complexity, make the technical ‘how’ disappear, so that we can have delightfully simple experiences – just “Dood” to pay.

This year, Hong Kong has some very exciting virtual banks arriving who are putting customers at the centre and tackling some of the most complex processes, such as:

  • Virtual onboarding – no branch visit to check your ID like ZA Bank
  • Payment card activation without any phone calls, PIN mailers, branch visits etc – Instant card activation simply by placing your card behind the phone or scanning a QR on the card (WeLab Bank), then immediately setting the card PIN in the mobile app is definitely a ten times better user experience.

A good recent example was the application and distribution of the government’s HKD10,000. The whole “FinTech” community – whether the oldest retail banks or the newest virtual banks all successfully made the public’s life easier resulting in millions of successful applications in the first few days of the scheme and money is paid direct into existing bank accounts a short time later.

Really Reliable & Robust

In the financial services sector, Antony emphasised it is critically important to have a robust and reliable experience, unlike say Pokemon Go when it was launched, nobody is going to put their money with something that will crash. The platform has to be solid, robust and reliable, the digital equivalent of physical bank buildings like those at Queen’s Road Central.

Importance of Multi-disciplinary Collaboration – and having fun

Essentials to Good e-Financial Services UX
Summarising, Antony believes a good FinTech service will always look for real problems, solving people’s needs in a ten-times better, delightful way. “Hide the tech away and refine it continuously with the feedback of users.” To create amazing user experience, he highlighted the need to bring a diverse group of people to work together. “You need the specialists in the sector, whatever it is insurance, finance. You need the engineers, creative designers, and also the risk, legal and compliance people to create a truly delightful, simple, secure helpful services”. Working with a great multi-disciplinary team is in his experience also a lot of fun! For example you can definitely feel the fun with ZA Bank, another of the virtual banks that has put the customer in the centre of everything.

Future Developments

Developments are accelerating especially recently as we are all adapting to a different way of life with the waves of the pandemic. We are now having to spend whether for work or leisure more time away from physical locations.

The creative and competitive pressure to craft really great user experiences will only intensify in the future, which is great for every one of us as ‘users’ of financial services. Hopefully this will make our life easier in a delightful way.

Digital UX Hunt

Antony has shared 5 e-financial service examples with good UX:

Would you like to suggest any e-financial services with good UX?

About FinTech Association of Hong Kong

FinTech Association of Hong Kong is a not-for-profit, independent, membership-based organization that is the voice of the FinTech community in Hong Kong. It is led by a volunteer group of board members and committee co-chairs who care about the future of FinTech in Hong Kong, Greater China and Asia. Its members range from promising startups and passionate individuals to global financial institutional service providers. FTAHK also works closely with the government and regulators to advocate for global standards in the FinTech ecosystem. It supports the development of Hong Kong as a leading FinTech centre by Advocating, Collaborating and Educating.