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Designing a stress-free experience of opening a debit account through a mobile banking app.

fiserv digital account opening


Digital-first banking is no longer an added benefit; it's become an expectation for financial institutions. Our customers are credit unions who use our white-label mobile banking app to close that technology gap. 

One holdout from the mobile app experience was the process for new credit union members to open a debit account. Making this a mobile-first process would encourage adoption of app usage from the start.

How can we make the complex process of applying for a new debit account both intuitive and stress-free on a mobile device?

MY ROLE: MAY 2020 - DEC 2020

Lead designer through the entire project, from working iteratively with the product, engineering, and QA teams on end-to-end product design.

How can we make the complex process of applying for a new debit account both intuitive and stress-free on a mobile device?

After learning about the scope of the feature, I started to research the obstacles surrounding this type of user journey; knowing the pain points would give me a good foundation for understanding how to craft the experience. 

As a B2B2C company, we had an additional problem: although they have a similar foundation, the account opening processes for each bank will be a little bit different, depending on what information they require from applicants. 

In this project overview, I'll address a few key problems & our solutions:

1. Adapting the complex account opening process to a mobile app experience

Account opening within the app would be a gateway to having higher adoption rate amongst the banks' customers. How could we combat potential abandonment?

2. Helping users feel comfortable entering personal information

According to the requirements, the modules within this user journey would include entry of personal details, personal financial information, ID scanning, and a liveness verification. How can we make sure users are feeling comfortable entering all this information?

3. Creating a customizable experience within our white-label app

Banks all may have slightly different required information from their applicants. How can we build a flexible platform that would cater to their needs?



The team had an existing first iteration of the UX already developed as a proof of concept. I was to inherit that UX as a starting point and bring it to completion. Although it was nice that there had already been some thought put into the design that I could reference, it did become a bit of an uphill battle to propose some major changes that would improve the usability, since they would require additional engineering changes.

At this time, we did not have any user research in our workflow. Although I was always pushing for the resources to conduct user research, it wasn't something we could include in the process. To me, this was a major gap in our approach that I definitely would want to fill given the opportunity.


In such a complex user journey with many possible paths, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the long hours that went into Lucidchart, our preferred wireframing tool. After working with the product manager to understand the current scope of functionality and doing my own research in parallel, I mapped out the all possible flows in low-fidelity wireframes.


Product, engineering, and QA continued to consume this document to validate throughout the whole development cycle, and I of course used it as a starting point for my next iterations.


Adapting the complex account opening process to a mobile app experience

I wanted to make sure users would feel like they could quickly and easily finish their application.


Breaking up long forms into consumable chunks would make it more manageable for users to complete long, tedious form entries.

Another piece that I pushed to add was the progress bar component on the top of each page, to clearly communicate the length of the whole process - nothing's more frustrating than the thought that there's no end in sight.


Given the amount of data entry required for many banks' account opening processes, one could easily get bored trying to complete this. Attention spans are short.

I wanted to make the visual design of the feature clean and appealing to counteract the blandness that typically would define a long process like this.

One challenge with illustrations in our white-label app is ensuring that they will not conflict too much with a customer's tone and brand. The illustrations are crafted so that:

  • Within each vector image, the main orange color can be replaced with the bank's primary color.

  • The general style and imagery are simple and flat-design, not taking too many artistic risks.


Although in the ideal case we'd say that you can finish your application in five minutes or less, the reality is that life can happen. Maybe my mom will call and I'll close the app and talk to her for an hour.

I really pushed to add this to the scope! The solution was to add a pause-and-resume framework to the application process.


If the user leaves the app and comes back, we would prompt them to either resume their progress or start a new application.


It's also roadmapped to send out push notifications to nudge forgetful folks to finish their unfinished applications.


Helping users feel comfortable entering personal information

Our end users would be folks who are used to having their finances handled by traditional credit unions with a more personal touch. I wanted to ensure that users felt comfortable and secure opening an account digitally.


I prioritized constructing a consistent tone for the copy that would feel friendly yet secure.


I also made sure to add extra visuals and educators in the more high-friction points of the journey (ID scanning, liveness verification, SSN entry).

Extra visuals at those points would take the form of visual feedback and confirmation for submitted information.

Educators refer to the step-by-step breakdowns of what the user should be expecting next, as well as microcopy that elucidates the purpose of certain information collection.


Takeaways + The Future

At the time, this was one of the biggest projects I was taking on as a junior designer. I was about a year into my career and the only person on the design team along a product manager, a few engineering managers, and 15+ developers & QA folks. It quickly became overwhelming for me as a solo designer, the youngest person by far, and the only woman. (I do not mean to make excuses! Rather, I want to set up context for how much learning and personal development I underwent.)

My personal takeaways:

  • Don't be afraid to stand up for UX.  This may seem obvious to most design professionals, but personally, I was constantly worried about making my voice heard because I was the only designer. However, that fact quickly became apparent: I was the only designer, so of course I had to make my voice heard. I learned to do research to help make my case in the hopes of a small victory; worst case, the team will say no, and best case, we'll dedicate a few sprints to developing something that makes users smile.

  • Get scrappy and leverage the wealth of information available via research.  Joining Ondot full-time after working on a few UX research internships, I had lofty ideals for all the user research rounds we would undergo before fully fleshing out a product. When I realized that would not be the reality (at least for this project!), I was felt a bit lost. But I had to design an end-to-end feature to the best of my ability, and a lot of hours dedicated to online research and competitive analysis went a long way.

What's next:

  • Remember problem #3, creating a customizable experience within our white-label app? We're working on a website "management console" to allow banks to build their own account opening journeys by customizing the current feature offering.

  • Not directly related to the account opening feature, but I was referencing the lack of research often, so I thought I might mention this. I'm fairly proud that due to my incessant "suggestion", the team has begun our first rounds of user research to guide our development of a brand-new feature.

You made it!

Thanks for reading.

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