Developing digital trust in financial services

From design to communication, financial services need to build trust with customers from day one


In the digital age, perceptions of trust can become warped, particularly when it comes to finances. Anytime issues of privacy, security and responsibility are involved, humans have a tendency to err on the side of caution. This is what makes trusting fintech so tricky; building trust with customers needs to start at day one.

As fintech continues to grow, particularly after the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, deep questions arise: how can people trust someone they never see with their finances? And how can finance businesses cultivate a sense of digital trust with customers?

We recently ran a survey of 1004 respondents to find out what was most important to them from the digital products they used. Of those respondents, 21.94% stated they used finance apps the most, second only to social media applications.

75.45% of those open their finance app 1–3 times a day. Although this is likely an understatement – research suggests we spend more time on our phones than we think we do – it is indicative of the function that a finance app serves: give information quickly and easily.

Users are not opening finance apps for entertainment or endless, mindless scrolling but to fulfill a specific purpose. Therefore, for financial services to retain and attract customers, they need to develop mechanical trust (the products work) and relational trust (a sense of security).

Why building trust is important

People are creatures of habit. This means that we’re predisposed to stick with the familiar and won’t stop using a digital product “just because”.

If two brands offer the same functionalities in their digital products, emotional factors are a key reason people choose one product over another – 22.01% of respondents said they would choose a digital product they trust over a competitors’.

Photo by Tech Daily on UnsplashPhoto by Tech Daily on Unsplash

Although we’ve seen an increase in users of digital banking services, some consumers have chosen to move their money away from digital startups and back to traditional bricks-and-mortar banks; opting to bank with familiar, ‘trusted’ brands.

How financial service can build trust through digital products

Provide a customer-centric experience

Put your customers at the forefront. As more and more of us make the switch to digital banking, financial institutions need to ensure they deliver a sleek and frictionless experience. Information overload can often be overwhelming for a customer.

Transparency is not just about showing a user everything, all at once, but rather showing the right information and ensuring the customer has access to what they need.

Your products should make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for – and in a case where they can’t, it should be easy for them to seek help through features like live chat.

Utilise customer data

A big bonus of having digital products on offer is the data that can be retrieved. This data is gold dust. You can analyse it and utilise it to drive improvements to your app or customer service, driven by what your customers want.

Data can help you identify key dropouts and failure points, which you can use to improve your customer lifecycle. Look for the reasons why users are disengaging – is it due to technical or feature limitations in your digital products, or are they simply no longer interested in the product? Getting an understanding of what your users’ pain points are and trying to fix these leads to a more customer-centric approach.

Find a balance

Financial institutions have the tricky challenge of making their digital products easy to use but not so easy that users perceive them as being less secure. Find a balance between quick and easy and being secure – if something appears as too easy, users will perceive it as being less secure.

The dichotomy between optimisation and trust is an interesting one. Nabil Kazerouni, a Senior Product Designer at Credit Karma, said that if some processes are too optimised, such as the speed of getting credit scores, they seem untrustworthy. Sometimes you need to slow some processes down to customers’ expectations of how long they think it should take. These kinds of expectations can be solved by good UX design.

Learn more about designing for trust in the digital age

Peronalisation, customer-centricity, and (the right kind of) optimisation all play a part in cultivating digital trust. To learn more about how to design for trust with your digital products, get in touch with our team today.