In the world of banking, there are a lot of complex digital solutions. Among them are some truly exceptional ones, such as Contextual Banking Experience (CBX), a corporate banking product by iGTB (Intellect Global Transaction Banking), part of Intellect Design Arena. It consists of 5,000+ screens and is continuously growing. An outstanding effort was needed to integrate Design Thinking principles and UX design approach into such a huge banking solution development. For UXDA, it is an honor to be part of this project among the large and highly skilled UX team in the Intellect Design Arena. With iGTB's permission, we are proud to reveal the greatest insights and project design overview gained during the 4+ years of our collaboration.
There is no doubt about the significance of UX in the banking industry. More and more retail banks have concluded that an exceptional customer experience is the key to success in the digital age. Meanwhile, the financial industry lacks truly remarkable examples of customer centricity in such a complex banking domain as corporate and wholesale banking, in which the value of UX is still underrated.
The CBX platform inspired us with its many opportunities and everyday financial scenarios it facilitates for large and medium-sized companies.
There were many teams involved in the project scattered across multiple continents─ America, Europe and Asia─each doing their best to create an amazing result for their users, despite the geographical and cultural differences. As UXDA is now fully serving their clients remotely, we were able to ensure effective result-oriented participation in the project, despite the thousands of miles apart. Throughout the four-year-long collaboration with iGTB, there were cases in which the teams held face-to-face meetings in the UK, Thailand, India and Canada.
Throughout this case study, we want to tell the story of how it is to work with a top finance vendor that offers its customers extremely sophisticated financial digital solutions, and what it means to deal with many challenges in different locations and times. At the end of this article, we will guide you through one of the most exceptional modules of the iGTB product: the liquidity management platform.
Just recently, UXDA's Senior UX Architect Olga Safonova sat down with iGTB's UX Strategy Lead Camilla Burggraaf to discuss how financial UX can help to ease the most painful corporate banking scenarios that cause the most struggles and disengaging user experiences.
In a spirited talk, they discussed how to untangle the complex scenarios and how to solve the most common UX mistakes that shatter the customer experience.
Here's the full video of the webinar:
A "SpaceUX Shuttle" in corporate banking
There are Fintech services, retail banking, SME banking and, at the top, huge corporate solutions dealing with thousands of employees, hundreds of accounts and billions of dollars in turnover.
If we use the analogy with spaceships, mankind dreams about spaceships that are easily able to travel billions of miles through our solar system. Unfortunately, existing spaceships weren't constructed for multiple takeovers and landings on other planets until the "SpaceX" program appeared, with an ambitious mission to land on Mars. iGTB has a similar mission in corporate banking to ensure huge, corporate, multi-account budget management with ease. Hence, the innovative iGTB solution was built.
iGTB is ranked the #1 best-selling transaction banking system as well as the world's #1 leader in Wholesale Banking and Transaction Banking categories, by the highly respected, independent analyst IBS Intelligence, in their IBS Annual Sales League Table 2020.
As one of the world's top banking vendors with 4,500+ employees, iGTB develops corporate software products for banks around the globe. When we started working with iGTB, we were inspired by their passion to facilitate everyday corporate user scenarios with their unique financial product.
Behind every one of iGTB’s product decisions is a desire to ease the lives of the corporate users. This enables them to spend their time on the growth of their business instead of navigating their way through the tangled jungles of the finance world with their interfaces that are often not user-friendly.
Challenge: Transform a huge corporate banking platform into a revolutionary user-centered one
In the digital age, it's a common challenge for financial institutions of any size to stay current with the growing customer expectations. The FIs have to adopt a new mindset, business approach and innovative technologies to take their services to the next level.
There is a growing number of medium-sized and large companies throughout the world that need banking products that work perfectly to ease their hectic lives. They need to cope with the day-to-day financial processes affecting the control of hundreds of bank accounts across different entities around the world. Businesses need to manage and control their activities, accounts and financials on a daily basis, and need a reliable tool to do all this in an easy and comprehensible way to keep their companies liquid, safe and secure.
Making the right financial decisions at the right time with the correct amount of precision is crucial for huge corporations as simple mistakes kick back projects, salary payouts, client shipments, etc. There is no room for errors or delays, which is why the tools in corporate financing have to be precise, easy to operate and smart. So, the purpose of the banking platform was to become a smart, contextual, digital assistant that would help solve corporate finance challenges as they occur, quickly and effortlessly.
Domain knowledge─a must for UX designers in corporate banking
To execute the scope of this ambitious vision, iGTB's already strongly developed UX team needed “helping hands” that would assist with executing the huge volume of the project. It was important that the team who joined the project was experienced and knowledgeable in the field of finance, so that the whole process could rapidly move forward.
Together with iGTB, UXDA crafted a unique solution that fits user scenarios and created the full visual side of the product with all the representative assets that were brought to developers.
Process: 5,000 screens toward a banking platform that can easily manage a billion dollar cash flow
When we started working with iGTB, UXDA was impressed by a product so versatile with seemingly endless possibilities, and especially with the vision of where the product was going─an entirely user-centered contextual experience at every step of the user journey.
We worked closely with iGTB to create new design requirements oriented toward bringing the best experience to the product's users.
The initial version of iGTB's CBX product - Turnover Analysis Dashboard and Sweep Management
There were three main challenges we had to quickly overcome in order to ensure the best results for this project:
- quickly understand the complex domain of corporate banking;
- together with the iGTB team, take part in improving and creating a great user experience for the CBX solution;
- monitor thousands of screens and work on them efficiently, while improving them for the specific needs of banks.
During the project, we focused on three important directions:
- collaborating with the teams involved all around the world and being on the same page at all times, during any changes;
- together with the iGTB team, seeking ways to increase value to their clients─banks;
- ensuring that all operations and daily tasks on this platform would be easy to execute for its end users.
One of the biggest challenges was to determine how to make the design process simple enough so the iGTB developers around the world could access clean, consistent design features, and iGTB’s clients (the banks) could quickly adapt this white label product for their brand needs.
To successfully fulfill all of the requirements and established goals, the design process had to be done mindfully with the precision of a heart surgeon.
In the collaboration with iGTB, UXDA used its domain knowledge, financial UX methodology and experience in the financial industry to scale the design resources of the CBX project.
What made this collaboration different from those with our other clients was that iGTB already had a powerful in-house UX team. It was already clear who the end users were and what their needs and wants that the iGTB product would fulfill. UXDA helped to make this vision come to life by creating product wireframes and design.
For several years, the iGTB team had been conducting in-house research and developing accurate key user personas of the CBX platform in order to create a valuable product for the users that would be based on their needs.
Together with the iGTB team, we updated, designed and created additional user personas for the CBX corporate solution. User personas were categorized by:
- Bank’s user
- Large corporate
- Medium corporate
- Small corporate
Unfortunately, there aren't very many financial companies that are aware of this, urging us to skip through the UX research and get to the design quicker. Here's an article on why creating user personas is so critical for the financial product to be successful and how exactly to do that.
iGTB's CBX product is a fairly complex solution consisting of many modules that are often used as separate products on their own. Each of these modules has hundreds of user scenarios that can branch out, creating products that are difficult to understand.
Creating user flows is a great opportunity to get the overall sense of the product, its structure, possibilities and the potential outcome even before putting it all into the design. In iGTB's user flows, scenarios based on the user personas were laid out in potential screen-by-screen sequences that allowed business analysts, UX designers, developers and anyone involved to better understand how the outcome would look. This helped to clearly identify, step-by-step, how user expectations of the interface would be met.
The next step in the iGTB project was to lay out the information, location and the proper meaning of the elements on the screen to test the early hypothesis of what works and what needs to be changed. To do so, wireframes were developed together with the iGTB UX team.
Throughout the process of developing the iGTB project and wireframes, the design thinking in banking was strongly used. Creating the wireframes provided an in-depth understanding of the IF scenarios of the users to ensure that no essential details were forgotten, and the product covered all of the necessary user scenarios.
In the process of creating designs, we didn't rely on the previous version of the CBX platform's user interface and UX. We based the designs on all the important information the iGTB team had compiled in the research stage that was converged into wireframes.
The UI design goals for the CBX product were to make it look:
- Visually appealing
As this is a white label platform, it was important to create a design system that would be easily brandable for iGTB’s clients─banks that have purchased the product. As we know, iGTB is currently working on a CSS system that would allow banks to easily adapt this design to their requirements by simply typing in their brand colors. The system would then transform all of the elements in the design under the bank's brand. Isn't that amazing?
The asset files had to be in perfect order and always ready to hand over to ensure proper design communication and a smooth and effective overall process of creating the CBX product. When we started working together with iGTB, we looked into finding the most effective way to divide this "spaceship" so that it would be as convenient and efficient as possible to work on. It was crucial that it would all be transparent and understandable and that the system would work for the benefit of all without creating chaos.
InVision was a great help, but it was in its early days and would tend to crash due to the huge volume of screens under one project.
Despite these challenges, the collaboration among the teams went smoothly, and we were happy to see how iGTB's project became a pioneer in creating a great user experience on a scope of 5,000+ screens.
iGTB is constantly improving the CBX solution, focusing on excellent user experience not only in one but in multiple channels, developing a well-functioning digital ecosystem that's consistent and simple to use on different platforms.
An iGTB vision of the best liquidity management system in the world
The CBX solution provides around 400 user journeys that cover the full complexity of corporate banking. It's a unique and voluminous product, and it's impossible to guide you through all of it, but we want to share at least a part of it─the liquidity management platform. It has inspired many banks that serve corporate customers and use this platform to facilitate day-to-day processes involving Sweeps, Internal Company Loans (ICL), pooling scenarios and others. Let us guide you through it.
One-of-a-kind liquidity management platform
Liquidity is usually offered (but not limited) to large corporations with significant cash flow. The main purpose of liquidity for any business is to have easily accessible funds. Many corporations have excess funds, and keeping these funds passive does not result in much profit.
Liquidity management allows corporations to:
- distribute money evenly among company accounts and avoid extra fees for overdrafts;
- use the money for lending and borrowing instead of taking loans from banks;
- gain interest on surplus money just sitting there.
In this particular CBX module, some large banks participated in the testing and recognized it as the best liquidity management platform available on the market. It is still being constantly improved, tested and integrated simultaneously in several banks. We should note here that, in iGTB's “space shuttle,” this single module alone consists of 400 design screens in comparison to the 300 screens used by the average retail bank for its complete desktop solution.
There's no wonder why so many of the world's best corporate banks work with iGTB: 23% of the world's MNC cross-border sweeps, and over 50% of IMEA corporate collections go through iGTB systems. Those have proven to be able to process over one million domestic/international payments per hour in live use.
What is sweep management: Sweep management AKA cash concentration AKA physical pooling
Simply put, sweep management is just a transfer of money from one company's account to another, but the benefits that it gives to the corporations are huge. Corporate may pay fees if some accounts are in the overdraft, or the client might also lose money if some accounts are in surplus as money is not working to generate profit. So, sweeping helps to set up automatic rules among these accounts so that, on a particular date and time, if one account has excess funds, they are moved to a different account. In this way, both accounts have enough money for day-to-day corporate operations, and money is working to benefit corporations.
The screen displays all sweep structures available for corporations. A chart-like view and a list view are provided to the user for better understanding.
User scenarios in liquidity dashboard view:
- Make decisions in terms of the ideal product mix for the business.
- Quickly identify the structures that are active and the number of structures that will end in the next few days. This helps to ensure that, on any given business day, there are sufficient active sweep structures in order to ensure all objectives.
- Identify the ungrouped structures and assess the potential of linking them.
List of all sweep executions
The screen displays all executions that occur on a particular date, and users can switch to any date in the past and get a view of their liquidity status at that time.
User needs while looking at this view:
- List view: to identify what was executed/failed on any given day and summary count of transfers/no transfers in case of executed instructions so that the user can:
- Initiate an inquiry with the bank to investigate a failed transaction;
- Amend parameters to reduce the number of no transfers.
- Chart view: a pictorial visualization immediately allows the treasurer to identify structures that have failed instructions or those that lead to no transfers.
Create sweep structure
This form is quite advanced as few banks offer their customers the ability to create structures by themselves. Usually, you need to go to the bank, and they will set it up for you. In iGTB, the process is simplified as it can be done by an employee who can then tweak it as needed during the process. There is no need to interact with the bank’s personnel. Secondly, these processes have to be simple enough so anyone with a basic understanding of liquidity can operate them. It is possible to create a structure of any kind─from the most simple to most advanced.
Another big challenge was to change naming conventions in the liquidity management system because it was filled with complex liquidity jargon. More narrative and contextual style was used in favor of creating a better experience.
It is known that our human brains perceive visual information better than artificial text-based information. So, forms include visuals so the users can see a visual representation of what they have just set up.
View of the sweep structure
This provides a detailed view of one particular structure. Users can review all instructions and how they got executed over time, both in a simple list view and using a chart.
The most interesting and valuable aspect is that we provide a nice drill-down from the biggest to the smallest feature. Following is the progression:
- The user starts with a summary of all the structures;
- Then they move to one particular structure;
- They can then move to details of a particular instruction from the structure;
- Finally, they can check account details in the liquidity module that shows how this account is behaving in sweeps.
ICL (Inter-Company Loans)
Inter-Company Loans involve one corporate entity leasing money to another, usually with good terms and conditions.
- Offering a loan to an entity to avoid a shortfall so that corporations would not have to take loans from the bank with a large interest rate.
- Segregating all funds into one entity/account and then using them for investments.
The use of ICL may create tax problems for corporations. These corporations should document how much is leased and borrowed and at what interest rate. The problem is that some corporations just don’t do it and end up getting fined when it's audit time.
View all set-up relationships
It is important for the user to see all set-up relationships in one place. This view helps users understand how these relationships work, what the utilization is and how users can lend or borrow on a particular relationship.
View relationship details
Users can drill down to the details of a particular relationship, including all loans that were taken under it with interest and tax information.
Create a relationship
Setting up an intercompany loan relationship or agreement is a complex task. Usually, the corporate user needs to talk to the bank representative in order to accomplish this. CBX offers corporate users self-service for setting up and managing ICL loans.
Notional pooling allows corporations to segregate accounts into a particular group. Then, depending on the funds that you keep in your accounts, the bank will pay you interest. The main difference from others is that there is no physical movement of money. Money just remains in the account and works to the company's benefit.
The main downside of notional pooling is that it is not allowed in some countries, and only few developing markets offer it.
View pools’ earnings
Users can see earnings on each pool that is set up between entity accounts. If a user feels that the earnings are not substantial enough, he/she will want to investigate the pool model and rates that are set up.
Users can check earnings using visual and list views. In list view, users can review earnings for any date in the past. The chart helps users compare earnings pools brought for the current month with previous months, so that the user can assess whether there is a considerable dip or a spike in earnings.
View single pool’s earnings
Here, similar to sweeps, the most interesting thing is the gradual drill-down:
- The user starts with a visual list of all pools together, then moves to a single pool to check how its earnings are fluctuating over time and who the participants of that pool are.
- Then the user can further drill down to the participant view, where he/she can see precisely what this participant (account) is doing. Is corporate gaining a lot of money with this account being a participant in the pool?
5 key takeaways: How to ensure a successful high-scale banking product UX design
Working with Intellect Design Arena has been a remarkable experience for UXDA in many ways. It's a unique opportunity to get a chance to work closely together with one of the world's leading banking software vendors that has such deeply developed UX expertise.
There aren't many projects of such a scope that integrate the role of user experience so completely, so we were able to learn a lot about the details and in-depth specifics of such a complex and diverse corporate banking product.
Working together, we have come to understand the wide range of possibilities a user-centered corporate banking solution can provide its corporate users that allows them to stimulate the growth of their business and open up many new opportunities. We want to share the key takeaways we learned working with a project of this scope and significance that is significantly disrupting the banking industry.
1. Step out of the comfort zone: scale-up expertise through outsourcing
There is a faulty belief among many huge banking vendors and corporations that it's complex and inconvenient to work with outsourced experts. This is the main reason why big banking vendors often rely on their in-house teams. Staying in the faulty “safe zone” might be comfortable, but, as we know, growth occurs only when we dare to step out of it. Hiring an outsourced team of specialists can provide a fresh collection of ideas, inspiration and new ways to increase the effectiveness of inner processes.
In fact, the COVID-19 crisis demonstrated quite clearly that even a fully remote collaboration from two opposite sides of the world can significantly increase efficiency, resulting in growth. In this case, during the collaboration, UXDA's Senior UX architect Olga worked from Latvia; iGTB's UX Strategy Lead Camilla was located in Canada; Mike, the Senior Vice President of iGTB, was in England; there were developers in India; the product head was based in the US; and iGTB’sclients were located all around the world!
As we know, the border between the in-house and outsourced teams will become more and more transparent in the near digital future, so the first ones to understand and use that will gain the greatest benefit working with outsourced experts.
2. Design system is a must for a large-scale ecosystems
When it comes to 5,000+ screens, establish standards and frameworks─flows, storyboards, etc.─for as many UX deliverables as possible. It's extremely important to ensure consistency across different modules and avoid mistakes, as small changes can impact much larger flows, and one small change might impact hundreds of screens.
It also makes all of the processes more efficient for the designers. The same also applies to the developers, so componentize features as much as possible to reuse those in the future and save time.
Right from the start of the project, a clear setup needs to be created for naming and systemizing all design assets (e.g., files, InVision projects, screen names, etc.). A complete UX/UI design system ensures consistency across the platform ecosystem, resulting in a quick and effective handover of the UX and UI deliverables to the developers so that they can start working on it immediately. It also ensures that everyone working on the project is on the same page and can easily develop the product further in their specific field of responsibility.
3. Connect developers and designers right from the start
It's crucial to establish interaction among developers and designers right from the start of the project. This prevents costly mistakes that would do a lot of damage to the overall project, such as slowing down processes and leading to a lot of expensive rework. UX guidance throughout the scope of the development process ensures that the end result lives up to the initial vision of how the product should look and act in the hands of the customers.
There are multiple cases in which designers hand over assets and claim that their responsibilities have ended with this step. In huge projects with countless design interactions and changes, it's crucial that proper communication is established to resolve issues and move forward. Otherwise, if developers get confused with design assets and are unsure of the idea behind the changes, it can lead to critical UX implementation errors. Not to mention, the interactive minds of developers are easily overlooked; design is, after all, a collaborative, creative field.
4. Be on top of the communication
In projects of such a scope in which so many people and teams from all around the world are involved, precise and efficient communication is one of the cornerstones of success. It is critical to ensure that the whole team is on the same page at all times with regular daily check-ins. UX designers can play a key role here─clear communication, usability of internal deliverables to people downstream AND upstream and building empathic bridges across cultures...these are, in fact, the key UX design skills!
It is important that the whole team work closely together as a united mechanism, and is aware of all changes and updates to ensure maximum efficiency and avoid any mistakes that can have far-reaching consequences.
5. Be as precise as a Swiss watch in planning and tracking the progress
There's a huge difference between medium- and large-scale projects in task planning and tracking their progress. Instead of 5, 10 or 15 tasks in the pipeline, there are thousands of them scattered over hundreds of fields and roles. In this case, ineffective task planning and a lack of overview of all the tasks and their progress can seriously increase the level of project risk.
Proper setup of the task plan and prioritization of designers and developers is crucial to ensure smooth and secure progress of the project. The full process should be tracked on a single board (from design and development to testing), allowing the ability to easily review it and keep track of all the tasks.
Corporate banking “SpaceX” powered by UX
iGTB's CBX is living proof of the possibilities a corporate banking product can offer its users with the help of UX. We are extremely happy and proud to work with such a client, whose main goal is to make life easier for millions of users around the world with their products and facilitate the processes for banks.
As our collaboration with Intellect Design Arena is still ongoing with no end date in sight, we view it as a unique opportunity to keep developing the financial "SpaceX shuttle" together, so that it can fly with even more power and make an even bigger impact in the industry.
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