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Part 10 of 10: Look outside banking for inspiration

To design a truly innovative customer experience, you should look outside of banking for inspiration. See how other industries (Ride Sharing, eCommerce, Insurance) are solving similar problems. But don’t assume that innovation in every industry will be applicable to banking – it won’t.

First Principles Thinking

Fintech legend Brett King talks extensively about designing banking experiences with “First Principles Thinking” in his book Bank 4.0. This is a term often associated with Elon Musk and there’s a great description of it here: The Mission Article.

First Principles Thinking means your solving a problem or designing a product / experience with no starting point. You’re not copying or redesigning something that already exists – that’s a more iterative design approach.

So for example:

  • In banking – iterative design would focus on delivering a better digital Deposit Account. Whereas first principles thinking would think about solving the problem of “A safe and secure place for people to store their money so they can easily access it when they need to buy things.”   

  • If you’re looking at the problem of lending money to small businesses, an iterative design process would say “How do we deliver a digital experience for small business lending?” Whereas a first principles design approach might identify that small business owners will figure out that they need a loan WHEN their updating their online accounting software like Quickbooks or Xero – so how do we allow a small business owner to apply for a loan through their online accounting.

Energize Your First Principles Thinking

But to energize your first principles thinking – it’s useful to look outside your usual frame of reference. Don’t look to other banks or even fintechs for ideas…look to other industries and successful brands in those industries. But not all industries will provide relevant examples.

We categorize experiences in to two broad groups:

  1. Enjoyable – things people want to do like entertainment, dining, vacation. We want enjoyable experiences to be fun, engaging, pleasurable, … in fact sometimes we want them to last as long as possible because we want to do them. We enjoy them.    

  2. Necessary – things people must do like insurance, banking, dental care. We want necessary experiences to be as quick and effortless as possible, so we can get back to doing enjoyable things. 

Unfortunately, banking falls in to the “necessary” category. So when looking for inspiration, it can be useful to look at enjoyable brand experiences, but the way Apple, Marriott and Disney deliver great experiences may not be applicable to banking.

However, we can find great parallels in areas like eCommerce. For example:

  • Nike tapped in to the desire of customers to personalize shoes with “NIKE BY YOU”. Banks have seen similar opportunities in the personalization of credit/debit cards with photos or sports team colors.    
  • Amazon learnt that displaying a customer’s last searches on the home page of when the customer returned could help complete shopping journeys. Banks have seen similar success with making the banner image on the home page about Mortgages if that was the last thing I searched for.

These are simple examples – but show how lessons from other industries can be applied to banking. However – it’s important to prototype these new experiences before making significant investment. We’ve seen banks obtain critical early feedback from customers when showing sketched prototypes to branch customers. This low cost approach to prototyping can ensure you are “Building the right thing” before you think about “Building the thing right”.


If you are looking for a way to significantly impact the growth and profitability of your bank, then improving the effectiveness of your customer acquisition, sales, onboarding, origination journeys is a highly effective way to achieve tangible results.

And before you start re-designing the experience or crafting wireframes or looking at competitors – start with these recommended best practices as guiding principles for your design work to ensure you include proven tactics that will increase completion rates.

For more information check out or get in touch with Temenos in your region

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