The next generation of financial services has to be truly inclusive

 Emily Davitt photo
Emily Davitt Lead Product Manager
3min read

Delivered straight to your inbox

Get each edition of Unfiltered - our no-BS, uncensored analysis of fintech news and hot topics sent to your inbox each fortnight.

Find out more

Hopefully, by now you’ve had a chance to digest some, if not all, of our inclusive design series.

Making sure your product is accessible and inclusive is absolutely critical. Not just for niceness or optics, but to drive good business performance. If you fail to do so, your customers will look elsewhere.

But creating one experience to suit everyone isn’t enough. When has one-size-fits-all ever been a good solution? Before digital financial experiences existed, there were bank managers (remember them?) who could advise and assist specific to your individual needs and circumstances. That individuality disappeared with the introduction of technology and now we’re faced with blanket solutions. Inclusive design is great for widening the playing field. Now it’s time to build on those principles and deliver tailored individual experiences.

That individuality disappeared with the introduction of technology and now we’re faced with blanket solutions.

What next-generation inclusive financial services could look like

What if you could fundamentally rethink how your product should work and how each individual should experience it? Let’s see what financial products and services based on the five key areas of our inclusive design report could look like.

A bank for the LGBTQ+ community might integrate with providers offering bespoke products, for example, medical insurance. A single KYC process across a suite of products would reduce the stress of repeatedly needing to supply documentation that doesn’t align with personal identification. The bank could provide financial education and savings assistance specific to individual scenarios, like surgeries for transgender people, IVF or adoption.

Mental health
A bank for addiction sufferers could use smart controls to actively help prevent or reduce spending in areas that customers want to avoid, such as gambling websites. Doing this at the source creates a simpler setup that’s much easier to manage and control.

People with dyslexia can struggle to process large quantities of text or data, so a standard transaction feed can be overwhelming. Fraud flows can contain a lot of complex steps and long text. A bank for the dyslexic could provide an experience with focused necessary data based on intention, and options for auditory data vs, written.

Physical needs
Visually-impaired users are currently unable to verify card machine totals, leaving them susceptible to overcharging. How about a transaction flow that ensures accurate transaction value by allowing users to set an expected value ahead of making a purchase, or a voice-activated interface? A bank for the visually impaired could provide that.

A suite of features could be added to a bank for dementia sufferers. For instance, a trusted financial representative to aid the user with their financial activities, fine-grain controls of how much can be spent, where and when to allow freedom but security. In addition, approval flows for significant purchases or transfers to prevent potential scams targeted at the vulnerable.

You’re probably thinking “Emily, this sounds great, but it’s impossible. I can’t provide multiple different experiences for different user segments.”

But what if we reset the bounds of what's possible? What if there was an architecture for financial products that made this easy? Good news: there is.

Meet 11:FS Foundry, our Financial Services Operating System (FS OS).

Creating truly inclusive design

Separate your business logic from your providers’. Use them only for their primitive capabilities and to create a common logic layer that doesn’t change.

Create a system that allows you to easily add these providers to support each of the differing experiences in each of your operating geographies. Effortlessly switch them out for preferred suppliers with better unit economics or capabilities.

Create a multi-asset ledger to connect to all your different sources of funds.

Create a hyper-flexible workflow and rules capability to intelligently link all the capabilities, and quickly create new experiences with only a new configuration set.

Finally, layer a fine-grain permission model over the top to give endless customisation capabilities and multi-user products.

If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Luckily for you, a pre-built OS like Foundry can take care of it all.

If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Luckily for you, a pre-built OS like Foundry can take care of it all.

My unfiltered opinion

Inclusive design is a fantastic gateway to better experiences for customers, and by extension product teams. Everybody should follow the principles we’ve outlined in our report and in this piece, in order to build a better financial future for everybody.

But designing one-size-fits-all solutions isn’t good enough, even if they were designed with an inclusive mindset. It’s time to start thinking on a more granular level. And when you do, don’t waste your time building yet another system for managing your integrations and business logic - use a pre-built one and allow your engineers to focus on what really matters to your customers and business.