By Alice Newton-Rex, VP of Product, WorldRemit, October 11, 2017.
It doesn’t make sense to generalise about our users – they live all round the world, and they send money from 50 countries to over 140 countries, usually to support family and friends back home. The product team at WorldRemit meet our users at least once a month, so we know them first hand. Some of them are very tech savvy (even working in tech jobs) and they’re very knowledgeable about how best to manage their money.
But some of them aren’t. And we think it’s important to design our product for them too.
The best way to understand your users’ digital capability is to talk to them, and watch them use your product. We also like to ask people what other apps they have on their phone. One woman told me that WorldRemit is actually the only app she’s ever used, and her children make fun of her for how enthusiastic she’s become about making mobile money transfers. Her situation is not unusual: 90% of remittances still take place offline, so many of our new customers are using WorldRemit to make their first ever digital transaction.
This presents an interesting challenge, because it means you cannot rely on recognition of design patterns that have become common in other apps. A good example is that increasingly popular and elegantly concise way of entering card details, where you’re given just one input field to enter your card number, expiry date and CVC with minimal explanation.
That just won’t work if your user isn’t familiar with ecommerce – they’re trusting you with their most important financial information and they want more support and reassurance that they’re doing the right thing.
Over the last year, we’ve spent a lot of time optimising our app for customers who are less digitally and financially confident. Through in-person user research and analytics we found out what wasn’t working in our app, and then we tested and iterated on multiple prototypes with our target users before settling on the best design.
This has included making the fee and exchange rate information even clearer, as well as stating exactly how much money the recipient will receive. We’ve worked on putting messages in the app, especially for first time users, to help them understand the process. For example, we explain that we only have to collect personal information on their first transfer so we can validate their identity and keep them safe.
We’ve found that the reassurance of having a 24-hour phone line is crucial – even for people who never actually have to call us – so we’ve made sure our phone number is really easy to find in the app. No matter how much we encourage people to self-serve online, old habits die hard. Some users call us just to ask what the exchange rate is on a given day, even though this information is prominently displayed on the app and website, because they’re so accustomed to ringing around informal money transfer agents to see who’s offering the best rate. It’s worth picking up the phone for these calls, because they often lead to an online transfer.
Supporting different users also means supporting different devices. Android is more popular than iOS, and we need to support older devices for longer than if we were serving the kind of customers who cared about having the newest phone and had disposable income to spend on rapidly upgrading.
Spending time with our users has even given us ideas for how we can support them beyond their immediate need to send money abroad. Last year we introduced an exchange rate notification feature, which lets users sign up to receive a daily push notification with the exchange rate. This helps them pick the best time to send money, and it’s proved really popular with hundreds of thousands of signups already. We’re also launching a series of videos on our Facebook page with independent experts giving advice and guidance to migrants about general financial matters.
We want to help our users become more confident with their finances and their use of technology because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also good for business: remember that most people are currently sending money offline, by going down to a corner store or local transfer agent. This is a hugely underserved segment of the population, and it’s clear that they’re going to move online in huge numbers over the next five years. We want to give them a helping hand so they move online with us.
I hope the Fintech for All competition will encourage more people to think about designing products for the financially under-served. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, you can’t do better than getting out there and talking to people.