Design thinking in the financial sector: process, benefits, challenges, and examples

Digitization of the financial industry has made banking more convenient and accessible to anyone worldwide. This has equally made UX SaaS design integral to the success of banks. However, as customer needs and demands evolve, the banking industry must develop innovative digital financial products that serve customers well, cut costs, and speed their time to market.

One of the ways to achieve these, increase revenue, and improve product and workplace culture is through design thinking. This article dives deep into the whole process of design thinking in fintech, the challenges, and real-world examples to help you successfully navigate through this concept. Keep reading to learn more!

What is design thinking in fintech?

Generally, design thinking is a practical strategy or approach used by design teams to understand buyer personas and needs, generate ideas that help to solve these problems based on how they affect customers, and build innovative solutions that meet customer and brand expectations.

Design thinking in fintech means applying design thinking principles to solve UX SaaS problems in the banking industry. Its role in fintech focuses on reshaping the design mindset among brands, which we will elaborate on in the subsequent section.

What is the role of design thinking in fintech?

Design thinking funds applications in every brand or industry. This explains why successful companies like Google, PepsiCo, Nike, and Airbnb implement it in their creative approach. Some of the roles of design thinking in fintech and banking include:

Iterative prototyping

Usually, it's rare to build a product that works perfectly on the first try. You'll need to try different designs before settling for the one that works. To beat the competition and launch to the market faster, some brands slip into building digital financial products that are not scalable and intuitive.

However, with design thinking, you can gradually build and test a digital financial product until it meets the brand and customers' tastes. Also, it enables you to launch the product faster without compromising your budget or quality using iterative prototyping procedures.

User-centric solutions

Design thinking shifts the focus from what only the brand assumes to what the customer actually wants, paying close attention to customer psychology, buyer personas, and fintech trends. At the end of the day, you won't only build an intuitive digital financial product for your customers but also stand out from the competition. Per Adobe report, 46% of brands implementing design thinking claim to have a competitive advantage in their niche. Now you see where this is going?

Defining core value and user problems

Implementing design thinking in the financial sector clarifies your core user needs and helps ensure you have a defined approach to solving these problems. So that you do not follow the crowd to build just any fintech product; you create products that align with your brand and customers' demands.

5 benefits of design thinking in fintech

Now that we've seen the role of design thinking in banking let's also discover the importance of design thinking in financial services and how design thinking can help fintech companies:

Avoiding wasted investment

We can't talk about the advantages of design thinking in finance without discussing waste. Do you know that correcting a problem during development costs ten times the money you would spend fixing it while designing a product? Worse, if the product has been released, fixing it may cost even 100 times more.

Meanwhile, implementing design thinking in the financial sector can prevent you from spending extra money fixing your design issues. You can build your product bit by bit until you achieve the desired results.

Discovering the right problems to solve

Another one of the many benefits of design thinking in banking is solving your customers' problems. The banking industry is already bugged with so many complexities that all your customers want is a simpler way to understand the system and perform transactions successfully.

With design thinking, you follow a systematic research-driven methodology that helps you to properly define your customers' limitations and then formulate a solution in the form of a digital financial product.

Enhanced user experience

The number one priority of design thinking is enhanced user experience. In this study, you could see why almost half of companies that didn't implement design thinking in their UX strategy reported a weaker customer experience than their competitors. Design thinking focuses on the users and how your product blends into their daily lives, prioritizing how it can be a solution rather than just an app or product.

Better engagement opportunities

As mentioned, every fintech brand aims to build a digital financial product with an intuitive UI, including ease of use and accessibility. If your fintech product falls short of this, every other aspect, including profitability and usability, goes begging.

Design thinking in banking ensures you cover user touchpoints and provide better engagement opportunities so your intended customers can access and interact with your digital financial product at any time.

Lower customer acquisition costs

Every marketer knows that acquiring a new customer is much more costly than retaining one, especially considering the competition in the banking industry. Nonetheless, design thinking is like an A/B testing system that allows you to optimize your digital financial product and focus on what matters to your customer and product market, thus cutting off all unnecessary investment during customer acquisition.

Process and main specifics of design thinking in the financial sector

Seeing what roles design thinking can play in the banking industry and what benefits it brings, how do you build digital financial products using this strategy? Let's examine the core steps of the design thinking process in the financial sector and how they apply in building scalable and customer-centric digital financial products.


Empathizing with your customers is the first stage of design thinking in fintech. Empathy means getting a personal touch or understanding of your customers in their natural environments. To achieve this, you must interview your target customers to replace any assumptions and doubts about your product market with facts and first-hand knowledge of your users' needs.


After empathizing and collecting enough feedback or data, you can confidently state your customers' problems. The "define" stage of design thinking in banking means narrowing your customers' needs to something simple to understand so you can ideate or brainstorm potential solutions when building your digital financial product.


The ideation stage of design thinking in finance opens the door for curiosity and problem-solving. After defining your users' concerns or needs, the next step is for you and your design thinkers to start generating and documenting ideas. There is no limit to the number of ideas to generate at this stage. However, after generating these ideas, design thinkers must narrow them down to the most practical and innovative ones.


Prototyping in product design is the experimental transformation of ideas into digital or tangible products that can be improved occasionally. This comes after condensing your ideas in the previous stage. You get to visualize these ideas by creating a simple product called a prototype, which gives tangibility to the solution of the problem you seek to solve.


Testing is one of the steps of design thinking in fintech, where your ideas meet real-world use cases. After experimenting with your ideas through prototyping, you must test them with real users, whose feedback would be critical for determining whether your digital financial product meets your and your customers' expectations.

Main challenges of design thinking in the financial sector

Knowing how to implement design thinking into your product development is already good, but you should also be ready to face some challenges. The most common challenges of design thinking in banking include:

Limited resources

Design thinking requires practical steps dependent on finances, human resources, technical skills, and tools, among other things. These resources are necessary for you to implement design thinking processes successfully.

Resistance to change

Legacy systems are a hard nut to crack when design thinking is concerned. This is because many traditional finance systems are unwilling to embrace or adjust to the latest digital finance trends. But even finance systems willing to adapt may still be caught in the fishnet of bureaucracies and solid traditional systems.

Customer resistance

Not just banks but customers could be a huge pain to deal with, hindering the design thinking process. Some customers may still want to follow the traditional finance system and voluntarily avoid adapting to or embracing the new digital finance order. Educating this set of people will take time. In the worst-case scenario, they will be reluctant to participate in the empathetic stages of the design thinking process.

Poor understanding of design thinking principles

As the saying goes, "A little knowledge is dangerous." Imagine having limited or no knowledge or skills to implement design thinking in fintech and banking. In that case, any effort you make with your in-house team toward implementing it will only result in more complications. It's advisable to train your team first on the fundamentals of the concept before trying to build any product around it.

Examples of brands implementing design thinking in the financial industry

Finally, it's time to look at some examples of design thinking in fintech and how these brands scaled their UX SaaS design thanks to it:

Capital One

Capital One is a successful international financial company with over 800 branches worldwide and over $30 billion in revenue. The company adopted design thinking to streamline the onboarding process for its clients and create an equal platform for creativity among its employees, regardless of their levels in the hierarchy.

Capital One achieved this goal using a multi-tenant content management SaaS solution, OneView. The result of this experiment also increased productivity and an ambient and fun workplace atmosphere for its employees. One of the company's employees affirmed that design thinking reduced traditional paperwork by 70%.


PayPal has become a household name in the fintech industry. However, its success did not start today. The company underwent many iterations before reaching its level, and one of the cornerstones of this success was design thinking implementation.

One of the areas where PayPal prioritized design thinking was in its onboarding process. The reason was to solve the problem of PayPal becoming more complex as it continued adding more products to its list of financial services. This made it a bit overwhelming for users who were pretty new to PayPal and digital banking to sign up, complete tasks, or even process transactions.

So, PayPal's design team implemented a customer-driven approach to its fintech redesign and mobile customer experience (CX). The new design ticked the core principles of design thinking boxes, iterating gradually until reaching its level today.

Bank of America

As a new player in the US finance sector at the time, Bank of America, a multinational investment bank and financial services holding company, found it hard to onboard people to use its savings account service. So, it initiated a campaign called "Keep the Change," which was an empathetic approach to help them understand their target customers better and how they made financial decisions. Then, it collaborated with other stakeholders in the fintech industry to streamline the onboarding process for newly acquired customers. After those two initiatives, Bank of America saw a staggering gain of over 10 million new customers, who have saved over $1.8 billion with them.

Consider Dworkz as your trusted partner

Do you need a UX SaaS designer who understands design thinking to the core? Are you having doubts about how to hire a SaaS designer who can transform your financial services using the design thinking process that fits your customers' needs and product market? Then consider Dworkz as your go-to idea and UX SaaS design buddy. We are all you need to elevate your fintech and banking services to be more scalable and intuitive. Contact us right away to get started!


How can you use design thinking to transform financial services?

Design thinking principles can be effective in transforming financial services in the following ways:

  • Defining and understanding customer fintech challenges and needs, including user touchpoints and engagement patterns.

  • Then, address these challenges through iterative prototypes, which you can continually test until the product reaches its apex.

How can a fintech business benefit from design thinking?

Design thinking in the financial sector determines success through improved customer experience, faster time to market through prototyping and minimum viable products, cost savings, and better engagement opportunities and touchpoints for fintech product users.

What are the fundamental principles of design thinking in fintech?

The fundamental principles of design thinking in the banking sector include empathy, defining user problems and needs, and generating ideas based on these needs through ideation. Then, you should experiment with generated ideas through prototyping, test the viability of these ideas with real people, and finally, iterate these prototypes as you get more feedback.

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