Is this the future of Mobile Banking?

mubeen ahmad
Apr 27, 2019 · 10 min read

Capstone Project by Mubeen Ahmad @ BrainStation, Toronto (Winter 2019)

This is the story of LiftOff, an IOS app that gives you financial freedom and provides you more choice and control over your banking decisions.

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What if there was a way to change your financial habits?

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So it’s a beginning of a new year, and like every year you’ve probably set a list of resolutions.

One of the resolutions on your list must be to reduce your debt, save more , setup saving goals or try to budget more effectively and understand your financial habits, right?

LiftOff is a personal financial management tool which brings together in one place a customer’s bank accounts, credit cards, investments, savings and borrowing, including property and pension.

It gives users insight into their spending and helps them plan for the future. Its hard to form habits and we are going to help you develop financial habits which lead you towards financial freedom.

My Role

  • User Research
  • User Interviews
  • Journey Mapping
  • Sketching
  • Wireframing
  • Screenflows
  • Visual Design
  • Interaction Design

Design process

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I truly believe that every design project has its own challenges and you have to tailor your process accordingly to the design challenge. For Liftoff i decided to go with the following process.

  1. Define the problem
  2. Research
  3. Understand User Habits
  4. Ideate & Sketch
  5. Design & Prototype

How did this all start?

In October 2018, I went to a town hall for CIBC, where the Chief Data Scientist comes on stage and speaks about Open Banking and how banks should be ready for this framework and how it will affect the banking industry.

That conversation about Open Banking stayed with me.

In January 2019 I join Brainstation for my UX design Diploma and this was a great opportunity for me to understand and solve the problems for people who are challenged and frustrated by their banking experience.

And LiftOff was born!

What is open Banking All about?

Open Banking is a revolution in financial services that has the potential to transform all of our lives.

Our banks have looked after our money all of our lives, but when our lives change or we want to change our lives, the financial information that we need to buy a car, buy a house or pay for a wedding is locked up in our bank and not easily available. Open Banking offers all of us the choice to securely share our financial information with the businesses we trust, so the financial products and services we need the most are faster and more personalised. It means we get loans we can afford, saving and budgeting apps built around us, and mortgages that take hours to complete not days or weeks.

For the first time ever, Open Banking gives all of us the opportunity to control, own and use our financial information to improve our everyday lives.

Learn More All About Open Banking

Another Banking App? Do we really need it and for whom?

For this we have to understand the current banking landscape and how it is contributing to the betterment of our lives financially.

Banking customers today feel frustrated by the following factors which affects them emotionally and financally when they have to make their financial decisions.

  • Customer Service
  • Sneaky charges
  • Loyalty means nothing
  • Complicated mortgages
  • Ease of use
  • Lack of trust
  • No single source of truth

Bad financial decisions can and will ultimately lead to Debt.

Debt is a serious problem as it has negative effect on our lives and jeopardizes our personal relationships affecting our mental and physical health and our ability to save money.

HMW Statement

How might we help Canadians achieve financial freedom by helping them stay in control of their financial products?

Let’s find more about this bad boy!

Based on my research i decided to go with Millennials between the ages of 26–40 for my Demographic. This age group is breaking free from tradition. Millennials are opting for self employment over salaries. Their wages are growing at a slow, unspectacular rate, but the amount they are earning from self employment is much healthier.

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As part of my interviews i conducted 4 interviews and the goal was to understand the different financial backgrounds of each individual with respect to their financial sending habits, what motivated them towards spending and saving and how has debt affected them through their life.

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Types of Questions asked during the interview

Behaviour Questions

  1. How would you define your behaviour towards buying and spending?
  2. What do you do when you feel depressed or have negative feelings?
  3. What was the biggest financial decision you made in your life and how did it impact you?
  4. What are your financial goals for now and future?
  5. What do you think about saving money
  6. How do buy things which are beyond your budget?

Motivational Questions

  1. How do you budget?
  2. How do you track your spending right now?
  3. Where do you spend your money most
  4. Where would you like to reduce your spending?
  5. How do you manage your online subscriptions right now?
  6. How do you deal with overdraft situations?
  7. How do you track your debt right now?
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Insights & Findings from Interviews

Data I collected from Interviews was not really what I was looking for. I felt that my research strategy should have been more focused upon a certain user group and demographic to understand the root cause of the behaviour that motivates people to make irrational financial decisions. Though I was able to do a lot of research outside my interview group and found few interesting aspects of what motivated people’s behaviour towards bad financial decisions and what are their goals and objectives towards financial freedom.

I tried to match both areas together to create a pattern which would help people to make better financial decisions which will eventually reduce and eliminate their debt and move them towards financial freedom.

Patterns, Themes & Insights

Spending behaviour is one of the major reasons people are consuming a lot of debt and this is usually the cause of a disruptive lifestyle, a current life event such as divorce or unhappiness at work or at home. Also consuming credit cards is cause of rewards in shape of points which also causes them to use more credit than cash.

Most of the Millenials are living from paycheck to pay check and have no savings even for an emergency of $1000 if they needed that right away. They have no clear insight into how to setup their savings for a retirement income fund or even to save for a rainy day and are unable to meet financial obligations

Most of the Millenials have debts in the shape of student loans and credit cards. Credit card debt is the worst as it has the most highest interest rates and this alone is affecting their ability to move towards financial freedom and a stress free life.

Having multiple financial products with different is also another cause of concern as they really don’t have a clear snapshot of their financial position on a daily basis to keep them updated with respect to what’s happening with their debt and what types of actions they need to reduce and finish debt. Also they are paying lot of fee with respect to different bank accounts and how can they reduce that

It is very hard for them to understand if they are late on a payment, what type of bill payments need to be made and most of the time there is no communication from their bank to let them know about any upcoming payments and usually they have to pay fees due to no availability of funds and lose money.

There is also a lack for insights around a users buying and spending habits i.e. people don’t have clear access to what and when they buy and how can they reduce that impact on their financial behaviour. Having insights around how much they are spending vs saving and reducing debt will have a great impact on their day to day actions.

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Stark, we need a plan of attack!

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Based on my research and user interviews i started ideation and sketching by quickly generating Crazy 8’s and Crazy 4’s. The goal was to push beyond my first idea, and to generate a wide variety of solutions to the challenge. This also involved paper sketches and low fidelity wireframes.

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Once i had some idea of what the potential solution could look like, the next step was to work on Epcis and user stories based on the insights gathered from the User interviews and Themes which were generated.

User Stories

This resulted in almost 60 different user stories and intially i choose the task to allow users to connect their existing bank accounts with LiftOff in a seamless manner which would allow LiftOff to aggregate their financial transactions.

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Task Flow

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Low Fidelity Wireframes & Prototypes

Based on feedback i got, this taskflow than changed which was now focusing on a different problem i.e. allowing users to switch bank accounts within Liftoff rather than connect their account.

Can we make the account switching process more easier?

Based on feedback i got, this taskflow than changed which was now focusing on a different problem i.e. allowing users to switch bank accounts within Liftoff rather than connect their account.

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Prototype for Connecting User’s Bank Accounts with
LiftOff + Account Switching

Due to Awesome user feedback i was actually able to do 3 Different versions.

Version 1 | Version 2 | Version 3

User Testing

2 Rounds of User Testing was done with 10 different people. Some major insights that were gathered are as follows.


Onboarding was really not necessary to highlight the value proposition behind the usage of the the goals that the users were trying to achieve.

Lack of Trust

The overall experience was nice but users complained about lack of required information such as what to do next as it very vague on what just happened.

For example they see $50, was $50 in their account, what happened to the money that was already in their account and how they know that money was moved and what were the next steps and it also took them back to the old landing page which did not reflect the updated information.

Diconnect & Confusion

The users were really not sure what actions were required from them as the text was not very informative, the numbers really didn’t represent the value and text was also very small and hard to read. This created a sense of disconnect and the users were confused and not sure what these areas represented. They really took some time to read and understand the message behind these cards.

Visual Identity

Mood board

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Brand Adjectives

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Now you see me!

Alternate Platforms — Responsive website & Apple Watch

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Apple Watch UI
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Application Icon

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And we have LiftOff!

“Saves so much time if I could do it this way” — Eric Rados

“There is no bullshit, I love it” — Matt Ryan

“If I wanted to switch my account would give it 7 out of 10” —
Faran Qureshi

“Switching my bank account feels very effortless I realize that I would really like that. I didn’t even realize I would want a freedom like that “ — Daniel Blium

A note from Plain English

Did you know that we have launched a YouTube channel? Every video we make will aim to teach you something new. Check us out by clicking here, and be sure to subscribe to the channel 😎

UX In Plain English

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