LISTEN NOW: Can we Please Try to be a Little More Creative with the User Interface on Personal Finance Apps?


Author: Sarah Corley

In this webinar Ignacio Mas asks us to raise our ambition levels when it comes to user interfaces. User interfaces for banking apps tend to be extremely boring; essentially a digital version of the old paper forms. If you could print off the user interface screens, you’d get the old paper forms. What could more imaginative user interfaces look like?

In the digital world the user interface IS the product, it Is vital to design the interface well as it is the first impression and interaction a customer will have with the product. The user interface should be approached with thought and principles and Ignacio shared his principles which are:

  • Intuitive, not simple – we should be able to understand the purpose and how to use
  • Money should be acted out and not abstracted – a budget is abstract and something those with stable incomes do yearly or maybe monthly. But for those with informal/irregular incomes there are constant decisions that need to be made
  • There should be friction, not just convenience – friction gives us control and when making decisions about our money this friction can help with making thought-out choices
  • Ambiguous, not specific/precise – with an informal/irregular salary ambiguity is good, it allows you to undo and change decisions as needs arise
  • General tools not target products are needed – targeted products need a depth of customer understanding which is not available for those at the bottom of the pyramid. Having a generic service with tools the customer can use to shape their own experience and use for their own purposes

Ignacio poses that interfaces should be more like gaming and not form filling, in the words of Steve Jobs “your finger is the digital device” but many interfaces are using a keyboard to type rather than an interactive experience. The ipod separated out the user interface from the transactional element of listening to music. Can we separate out managing of the money from making the payment? Ignacio shares some ideas of what these UIs could feel like and ends by challenging us all to up our game!

If you found this webinar interesting you may also want to watch Ignacio’s webinar on financial lives of the poor and their coping strategies. This webinar outlines how those with informal/irregular outcomes think about and manage risks and it links to the concepts discussed in this user interface webinar.