Helping to build a FinTech startup

A case study: From brand creation to product launch
7 minute read

A little context

"A bank is a place that will give you money, if you can prove you don't need it" said someone, somewhere. This is a problem; the only places that will offer you a loan when you're clearly struggling financially are high-interest short-term lenders. A person turning to such companies in difficult times can often find themselves at the start of an expensive debt spiral that can be extremely difficult to climb out of.

Neyber's lending concept is different; by offering loans via employers as a workplace benefit, the risk of non-repayment is reduced, and money can be lent more safely to those most in need of help.

Neyber's lending concept is different; money can be lent more safely to those most in need of help

Building a brand for real people...

In 2014 I joined a team that created the brand name, story and visual identity for what would become Neyber. Basing our approach around the idea of simplicity and inclusion, in my role of lead digital designer I helped shape the brand and its framework to make sure it would work across a range of digital applications.

...and then building the product

Later on I was invited to join the in-house team at Neyber where I helped develop the company's flagship product— its online lending platform

Shaping the brand for digital

Working alongside the design team, a copywriter and closely with the creative director, together we evolved the brand identity from scratch, with digital being the main focus for its application. References from digital sources were used from the outset, and we considered aspects like motion, interaction, accessibility, tone of voice and personality.

The branding project covered apects from the name to the photographic style

Developing the product

Early in 2015 Neyber launched a pilot lending platform, built by the in-house team. The product had a great reception and saw visits rise quickly. The team was racking up feedback from users, and was keen to put these findings to use and build the first full version of the platform, which would see a wider release.

I was invited to join the team at Neyber to help establish UX principles based on the brand values, and to help with the development of the product suite. Along with another UX designer, a product strategist, a developer and two junior designers, we worked on various product concepts alongside the flagship lending platform.

Extending the brand framework to include a full UI Kit

Findings from the pilot version

The pilot product was a simple 5-step application form and was launched to a small sector of Neyber's pilot customer base. The mobile version was basic, based on the assumption taking out a long-term loan was a big decision; most people would do so from the comfort of their desktop at home, probably with a notepad and a mug of tea close by...

The stats however were showing otherwise; to our surprise, 79% of customers were using their mobiles to apply. The existing form, although only 5 steps, asked a number of questions per page. This led to a long scroll and an awkward mobile experience, and solving this was first on our list.

The mobile experience on the pilot product had lots of room for improvement

A few key challenges

  • As the number of applications grew, pressure was increasing on the underwriting team. The app therefore needed to capture more detailed info from applicants to lighten the team's workload.
  • Some of the questions were specific to certain circumstances or previous responses, so we needed a way to allow for different branches in the user flows.
  • The Neyber product family was evolving, and we needed a way to allow customers to access new features and products from a single account.

Our approach

Applying for credit online can be a stressful and an unfriendly experience– the Neyber underwriting team always worked hard to understand individual circumstances, often reviewing applications manually. We wanted the online application to reflect this human touch and attention to the individual.

We decided to split the long forms into one question per screen, adopting a conversational approach to guide them through the process. This gave the application a friendlier tone, and cleared up the cluttered screens, creating a sense of calmness and focus throughout.

Creating the new flow with multiple branches
Creating a mobile prototype to test the concept
Developing the single-question screens

The benefits of 1 question per screen

  • Users could save progress as they went along, meaning that they could leave the application at any point and pick up where they’d left off at a more convenient time.
  • Feel like they were moving faster through the application. In fact when asked, nearly 90% of our testers reported to have answered around 6 questions fewer than they actually had.
  • The additional space created meant that we could remove the dropdown menus and expose the options upfront as tap-able buttons, making it easier and faster to apply, especially on mobile.
Single questions per screen, with tappable options instead of drop-downs

Designing for the growing product suite

We needed a dashboard with flexibility to host multiple products and an account system for users to manage their products and communications with Neyber. Some of these products had already been identified, and some were simply concepts, so we need to create a system which was super-adaptable.

A masonry approach to the dashboard allowed for mutliple products and insights to be surfaced

A more honest calculator

Typically, loan applicants are asked how much they need and then how much time they need to pay it back. But what they really want to know is how much it's going to cost per month, and then the length of the loan term is simply a consquence of this.

We took this insight and created a calculator that focused on affordability; users select how much they can afford to pay back each month and the platform calculates how long it’ll take them to pay it back.

We took this insight and created a calculator that focused on affordability

An affordability-first calculator

A platform to grow on

The fast-paced and pivotal nature of a start-up meant that that we needed to design with flexibility in mind; Neyber will continue to grow its product offering, and along with the in-house tech team, we created a modular approach to the platform and a flexible dashboard that will enable the company to evolve its offering and host multiple interconnected products.

This modular approach to the journey structure also enables the underwriting team to tailor it to their evolving needs, as well as individual requirements from employers as Neyber partners with new companies.

Creating a smooth online sign-up and removing the complexity of on-boarding for smaller employers has helped Neyber to increase the availability of its offer to over 600,000 people.

To date, Neyber has successfully funded over 40M in loans and continues to grow its partnerships with employers.

Alex Charlton is a digital designer specialising in user experience and user interface design

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