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Fintechlab Design Summit: Digital Banking Success Stories

Founded in 2016, the MKB Fintechlab Innovation Lab and international startup incubator celebrated its third anniversary in October. The FinTech incubator has achieved significant success in the field of design thinking and customer-centric development, and has supported internationally recognized innovations and digital developments with MKB Finance Group.

MKB Fintechlab organized Design Summit 2019 on November 21 at the Hubdub club on Király utca, which presented success stories of disruptive financial market players such as Revolut, N26, TransferWise, Czech MONETA Money Bank, and Cherrisk, the digital insurance innovator.  

In what is a unique event in the region, some of the more important figures of the Hungarian and international banking spheres gave lectures on the crucial role of design thinking in financial services.

One of the workshops covered the “Lego Serious Play Gamification Methodology”, where team members used Lego bricks as models to brainstorm and seek solutions to customer problems. The whole event was held in English.

“One of the most interesting questions today is what are the innovative policies and tools that can lay the foundations for enterprise transformation,” said Norbert Gaál, MKB Fintechlab head of design. “We believe that customer-centered design and design thinking are such a pillar. The aim of the Design Summit is to create a common platform for those interested in the topic, where topics such as design-driven organizations and bank-specific design tools are on the table,” he explained.

János Pereczes, managing director of MKB Fintechlab, told the Budapest Business Journal, “The Fintechlab Design Summit aims to evangelize the power of customer experience and design thinking in the financial sector. We bring the most successful fintech startup executives and digital product design professional cream to Hungary to share their experiences. Design Summit builds heavily on Fintechlab’s know-how built over the past three years.”

Henrik Hagedorn

Paradigm Shift

Perhaps, among the many presentations, one the more interesting speeches was about banking security, as this is a topic which is crucial to everyone. In many ways, digitalization is a paradigm shift in the financial market in more than one respect: The most effective marketing tools are now digital as younger generations are early adopters of new technologies, FinTech is reducing bank margins and some services now need to be completely redesigned.

These were some of the ideas mentioned by Karol Sadaj, Revolut country manager, who believes that FinTechs are different from traditional banks in that they do not have to make profits every quarter, giving them more room for innovation, for example.

Revolut is a digital banking alternative that includes a pre-paid debit card, currency exchange, and peer-to-peer payments. According to the company, its mission is to build a “fair and frictionless platform to use and manage money around the world.” It has developed a system allowing users to transfer, exchange, and spend money with a multi-currency card that is accepted everywhere.

Revolut currently supports payment and ATM withdrawals in 120 currencies and sending in 26 currencies directly from its mobile app. The company is based in London and was founded in July 2015.

The expert pointed out that there are 3.4 billion smartphones in the world and 30% of the labor market is already provided by the Millennial generation, who are early adopters of technological solutions. If you are designing a new product, it is no longer worth focusing on the 60-plus generation, he said.

Karol Sadaj

Expensive Banks

Sadaj did not spare the banks, either: he believes that incumbent financial institutions can be expensive and unwealdy. FinTechs, on the other hand, have reduced foreign exchange swaps, for example, they allow users to exchange foreign currencies and to spend free, all important factors in a globalizing world.

Today, the biggest risk when dealing with money is not being physically robbed, but being scamed when shopping online, said Revolut’s manager. For example, virtual cards offer a good solution, but the main problem is that usually they aren’t available at traditional banks.

You can also see how much you spend through most FinTech apps, so if you are a victim of a scam, you can react immediately. The service can also be convenient: Revolut’s insurance service, for example, automatically asks you when you are traveling abroad whether you want travel insurance.

Another speaker, Henrik Hagedorn, N26’s strategic designer, said that the business started because it saw banks’ customer interfaces as weak, and wanted to build a bank that customers wanted to use.

N26 uses digital devices to measure product user feedback, what it calls the Experience Metrics Framework. This measures, among other things, how many customers are achieving their savings goals. Such UX metrics can also be used to measure customer satisfaction and company health.

In total, Fintechlab Design Summit 2019 featured 26 professional speakers with hands-on experience and there were about seven hours of workshops at the Hubdub club.

The summit will become an annual event to support international FinTech networking and practical collaboration, while also being closely linked to MKB Fintechlab’s 2020 training, which focuses on design thinking and customer-centred design.