Designing the Future Bank

In Financial Services, Mobile Solutions by Paul Brandner

Visa is sponsoring the competition that could redefine the way we bank.

The term “User Experience” wasn’t top of mind for banks a decade or two ago. But, says Derek Colfer, Head of Digital Innovation at Visa Canada, it’s something they’ve been doing all along. “Whether the interface is human or digital, it’s always been about touchpoints,” he explains. Whether or not they had the term for it, Colfer says, “UX has always been a concern, but the digital era offers new ways for those touchpoints to exist.”

A big ticket competition, sponsored by Colfer’s team at Visa, will give up-and-coming UX designers and strategists a chance to completely rethink what those touchpoints look like in a digital context. Small groups—assembled from colleges, universities, incubators, regional innovation centres and agencies—are invited to imagine the future bank using a suite of third party products.

The winners will not only land a $15,000 cash prize, but a potential chance to actually build their prototype through the Visa Developer Program. Competition finalists will present their strategies and initial mockups to an audience of fintech leaders at Mobey Day Toronto on December 8, 2016.

According to Colfer, the opportunities for a smart UX to serve customer needs reach way beyond what human tellers have been able to offer up to now: “In five years there will be 50 billion connected devices. It means more consumer touchpoints than ever. As these touchpoints become more intelligent, they will influence human behaviour more than people can—they have ability to offer services or products that a real human interface wouldn’t have thought of.”

He also points to the vast processing power that’s backing each of these touchpoints: “A smartphone has more computing power than all of NASA had in 1969 when they sent a man to the moon,” he explains. As that power increases and pairs with AI, “the ability of those devices to predict what a consumer might do is incredible.”

Colfer sees even greater potential when we begin to think beyond screens and imagine how we can interact with banking and payment tools using more than just our fingers: “There’s every reason to believe things like biometrics will shape that experience. Voice, gestures, fingerprints and retina scans—all of that will have an impact on UI as well. It really makes sense to think outside of the screen in order to futureproof user interfaces.”

His team at Visa exists to consider those new touchpoints—or “touchless points” as the case may be. Visa’s Developer Centre is playing an important role by making a suite of APIs available for developers to creatively integrate functionality into these new user experiences.

“We have been very good at payments for decades—we’re known for being secure and scalable, and there’s a tremendous amount of trust. But when you look at the lifecycle between intent and actually purchasing something, the payment part is only the last 0.5 percent of that cycle,” Colfer says. Now, he explains, the full consumer experience must be the focus. “The APIs we have available are about empowering the consumer to make more effective financial decisions. They’re for us to instigate a dialogue around product development and how to engage consumers in this digital world.”

Colfer is excited to see what participants in the Mobey Day UX competition will do with those APIs. “I’m a big fan of improv—I love seeing what happens when you get a group of creative people together, give them a limited segment of time and let them innovate creatively. I’m confident the results of the day will show that Toronto is a force to be reckoned with in respect to fintech and payments.”

There is still time to enter the competition for a stab at $15,000 and the chance to work with the Visa Developer Program. To enter, visit Mobey Day Toronto and register before November 25th. Team submissions are due November 30.