In this week’s Behind the Idea, Adam Fard, founder & CEO of Adam Fard Studio, a UX design agency known for helping a Florida-based payment processor raise $19million through designing a better user experience, shares his thoughts on embracing innovation in fintech.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
Innovation and experimentation are deeply embedded into our company culture, which naturally extends into our fintech projects as well. For example, having a major focus on B2B ‘old school’ projects, we often experience resistance when it comes to introducing anything new: be it internal processes, user experience solutions or communication tools. However, so far we’ve been successful in convincing our clients to at least partially embrace innovation.
How has this changed over the past few years?
In my experience, having witnessed the success of retail banking applications and B2C fintech in general, the B2B fintech players are not only becoming more open to accept change, but our fintech clients are becoming more customer-centric and willing to acquire in-depth market knowledge, rather than relying solely on industry traditions or experience. With more integration, financial systems are becoming increasingly complex which has increased the need to make them as efficient and effective as possible for new and existing users. This is where our expertise in designing data-heavy and complex products provides value to our customers as we help them navigate and stay informed about their users and market.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
Embracing innovation as a part of our culture within the company was an intentional decision. Just following best practices doesn’t cut it. We want to be at the forefront of creating them. As such, we have an internal system of experiments and R&D initiatives that tracks new activities, our hypotheses, expected outcomes, etc. On top of that, we’re always on the lookout for inspiration in all sorts of fields beyond just finance.
What fintech ideas have been implemented?
There are three recent ideas we’ve implemented that come to mind. Firstly, we’ve recently helped a client merge multiple platforms into one centralised multi-functional app, as opposed to having functionality scattered across various tools. Secondly, oftentimes we insist on having at least a partial mobile version for B2B fintech apps – no matter how data-heavy. Lastly, we’re strong believers in efficient collaboration. You can’t just let designers, programmers or product managers do their own thing separately. That’s why for all our fintech projects we introduce agile communication & conduct various workshops to get everyone working toward the same goal.
What benefits have these brought?
The merging reduced confusion as to which tool does what among users – especially the new ones. Having a mobile version helps users react more quickly to updates and be in the loop. Agile communication practices help get work done faster and more efficiently.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
The challenges that my clients and I have been facing lately boil down to four things. Firstly, regulations and compliance that’s accompanied by a shift toward BI and complex systems. Secondly, accessibility remains to be a foreign concept across the overwhelming majority of fintech apps that I see. Thirdly, quantum computing is looming over the horizon, while no one is really sure about how to integrate that into the current workflow. Lastly, AI hasn’t been yet utilised to its full potential, while those who do use it not only struggle with communicating its value to users, but are challenged by how to communicate AI results and build trust in its use.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
These challenges, though different and intricate in their own right, are being changed by fintech. Now we are seeing banks finding value in innovation, so they are investing more and more in innovative technology. We are seeing partnerships and integration of fintech products into classical FSI that are not only changing the way innovation in this sector is perceived, but shaping open innovation in the industry.
Fintech definitely isn’t immune to new technologies and design trends. This has been proven time and again. As such, the only viable long-term strategy is to embrace innovation and be at the forefront of it.