Banking applications were always created in a void, or a vacuum, where the designers were far removed from the reality of the users / customers on the ground. At hindsight, it is humorous to even think that a few sets of people sitting in their ivory towers thought they could design a wholesome banking experience for the vast majority of users, with whom they had no real connect. If only it was not real, the whole premise is almost laughable.

Complex banking terms like “Cumulative Interest Payout”, “On the Fly Beneficiary”, “Second Factor Authentication”, “Hard Token”, “Soft Token” were bandied out as jargons in the meeting rooms, without even asking the basic question that how will an end user who is ignorant of the above facts, understand, learn and operate the application. In addition to the actual application terminology, designers got carried away with securing the transactions. They have designed them in such a secure manner, that it is now very difficult to even create a genuine transaction. Imagine you need to transfer money to A. In a real-world scenario, you take the money out of your pocket and pay him, or if you had a bank account, you cut a cheque and hand it over to him.

You would think that in Banking channels the process would have become much simpler!! But that is where the catch is. In this case, if you were to pay A, you will first need to add him as a beneficiary, in the course of which you will be asked for a Second Factor Authentication (the OTP or Hard or Soft Token or both or all three, depending on your luck), post which you will be asked to wait for 30 minutes or 1 hour or 12 hours or even 24 hours in some cases before you can actually transact. It has now become easier to walk to the ATM withdraw money and hand it over in person to A. Yes, please try waiting for 24 hours before you can actually initiate funds to a person who is sitting next to you!!

Such restrictive practices have actually made banking applications cumbersome, user unfriendly and far removed from reality. Enter smart neo banking apps like PayTM, PayPal, PhonePe, BHIM, Venmo and others, which have started thinking about the actual customer or the end user. The idea at time of designing these apps was not to show one’s banking knowledge but was actually about how to make banking a simpler experience. And they have won it hands down. Today, the most number of transactions in India are happening to such third party apps/ services and only now banks are playing catching up to them. And they have still ensured that security is not reduced, or end customer is not faced the burden while transacting.

At Clayfin, we have been addressing the User Experience as a paramount issue, at the same time shielding the users from complex banking and regulatory jargon. We treat beneficiaries as People and not as inanimate objects. We treat security as SafetyNet that bank can configure without obstructing the user flow, we don’t hide transactions under elaborate menus and take users through a maze or play hide and seek with them.

If banking apps have to flourish, the bankers must be taken out of them!

Padmanabhan R

Career Banker, Galleried Photographer and Travel Columnist. Also develop banking applications in free time. Finished my CA and have done my tour of duty with organizations like Times Group, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank, before landing up in Clayfin to create digital banking channel solutions.

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