Breaking the Bank

How design is changing the banking experience

Like the hundreds of thousands of students who graduate college, I graduated with some student debt in my back pocket. And like my fellow colleagues, I am constantly checking up on my personal finances. Millennials have become more and more hopeful for game-changing solutions that will alleviate their financial worries.

How does design change the way we bank? Simply put, it changes everything.

Gone are the days of making a trip to the bank just to be confused about the fine print a teller is talking about. Gone are the days of filling out complicated forms to complete a simple task. And gone are the days of ‘envelope banking’ to save money on what you really want. Tasks that used to take hours or days, now take mere seconds. Design has created avenues for banks to develop more efficient and user-friendly experiences for customers, while offering solutions tailored to their needs.

There is a deliberate shift in how banks are designing their mobile applications. Ease of use and simplicity drive user needs and functionality. By focusing on the features that people use the most, products can begin to eliminate the “fluff” that banks try to sell. Sure, banks may want to provide you with all these elaborate features, but how often will the average consumer make a complicated wire transfer?

Some up-and-coming companies are taking a new and innovative look on how banking should be done in this new age of technology. By placing design first, companies are looking at redefining the industry. They are achieving this change by finding a unique audience to cater to, offering quality features that people care about, and integrating convenient technology into their systems in order to turn banking on its head.


One way companies are revolutionizing banking is by finding a niche. They concentrate their efforts on a single task and do it extremely well. This provides a focused experience that can help users ease into the complex world of finances. A great example of how design enables a great banking experience is Simple Bank. What Simple Bank did was find a subset of banking, saving money, and did it extremely well. Simple provides users with built-in budgeting and saving tools, a nifty ‘Safe-to-Spend’ feature, and a goals system, all packed into an elegant user interface. Placing the focus on the user experience and consumer engagement, Simple Bank positions themselves as a contender amongst the big banks.

Other companies, not necessarily in the banking industry, have taken their own unique twist in managing finances. Mint has become a staple in the personal finance management space. They stand as one of the leaders in managing finances through an effective budgeting, goal-setting system and a simple-to-use user interface. For me, having the ability to quickly manage my finances and organize my budget is vital to staying on top of everything.

Convenience is a driving force behind innovation in most sectors, banking included. New technology continues to be developed in order to offer new, convenient, and modern ways of completing day-to-day tasks. Venmo, a digital wallet to share funds with your friends, merges social media with banking by changing how people send money to each other. Integrating a convenient social platform appeals to the minds of millennials who are sending money to their friends. Attempting to fundamentally revolutionize payments, Apple Pay and Google Wallet have been changing how users purchase items by creating a platform for quick, one-tap payments. Both Apple Pay and Google Wallet act as digital wallets in which users can pay with their mobile devices or online. It will only be a matter of time before banks begin integrating these platforms into their own applications to create a more unified and coherent user experience. Companies such as Simple, Mint, Apple, and Google have laid a foundation, which larger banks can build on in the coming future.


With all of this innovation in the realm of finance, we can see a change in how design can help create solutions for consumer needs.

Being a financially-conscious millennial, I want my bank to be different from other banks by providing me with the services that matter to me most.

Learning the pain points of banking and creating experiences catered to resolving them will lead to key innovations in the banking industry.

Understanding what people want from their bank and creating a unified experience can help guide people into the complex systems of banking. Banks improve their retention rates and user base by prioritizing their relationship with their customers. Simplifying the experience of banking tasks like transfers, checking balances, or even scheduling a payment can drastically increase user retention and brand loyalty, a hefty currency in today’s consumer ecosystem. Well-thought-out designs can help create unique banking products that are easy-to-use, accessible and visually delightful that keep people fully immersed and engaged with their bank. It can be quick and easy to provide all the features of a bank in a single package, but only with elaborate design thinking can a bank truly provide a unique experience that its users will want to continue using time and time again.

Moving into a digital era where design is changing how people interact with technology, there is a need to recognize the potential that designers have in shaping the future of banking. Changing how we look at a problem through design thinking can help alleviate many issues that people have with technology today. Soon, banks will be designing their applications in a new light; one that bridges the gap between the company and their customer.