How does a traditional bank stay profitable and relevant in a heavily regulated and rapidly changing market? How does it engage digital natives and tomorrow’s spenders for its brand? KBC decided to launch an app tailored to the banking needs of 12 to 24 year olds. After a design sprint KBC entrusted us with a first project: the UX design of the messaging-like smartphone app and chatbot, the first of its kind in Europe. With a predominantly young user group, the KBC K'Ching app appears to have hit home after its golive just eight months later.
The first generation of true digital natives unanimously favour their smartphone for just about everything they do. Yet when turning to a bank to open a current or savings account, these teenagers and young adolescents are faced with overly complex solutions wrought with administration, financial jargon and ‘exotic’ insurance products they don’t see any use for.
KBC, a digitally mature Belgian banking and insurance leader, understood that the young and restless expect a user friendly app and will scrupulously switch brands to get it. Too complex for their needs, KBC’s existing banking solutions didn’t seem to meet the expectations of this young target group.
Design sprint towards pioneer app
Wanting to engage tomorrow’s spenders for their brand, KBC asked us to conceive and create the customer experience design for an app that is exclusively tailored to the younger generation’s lifestyle and culture. The app needed to offer them simple and straightforward online banking. When their banking needs outgrow the app, they can switch to the regular KBC banking app.
Internet Architects first collaborated with KBC on KBC K’Ching in the autumn of 2015. In a design sprint – a co-creation methodology pioneered by Google Ventures – we prototyped an app concept and tested it with potential users. From there, the initial prototype immediately went into an agile development funnel, where we worked closely with developers and business stakeholders to refine the default visual theme, the tone of voice and the user experience. Throughout the design process, regular feedback loops with KBC’s young community members helped us to make sure the app met the needs of the target group.
“Throughout the design process, regular feedback loops with KBC’s young community members helped us to make sure the app met the needs of the target group. ”
Tim Wouters, UX Researcher Internet Architects
Simplicity and conversational UI
Based on an intuitive, chat-like UX concept, the KBC K’Ching banking app caters to a mobile world where social networking and messaging accounts for over 60% of smartphone usage. We ensured the app would overcome banking barriers for 12–to-24 year olds with three radical simplifications.
Only cash and savings
No need to wield multiple banking accounts. The app only offers young users two default money buckets.
The app reduces the initial login and registration flow to a single dialogue screen. A customizable personal chatbot called K’Ching, guides the user through the process and offers advice where needed. Allowing a new, more direct and emphatic dialogue, the KBC K’Ching chatbot lays the foundation for a true conversational UI in later development phases..
Finance = Conversation
The UX concept for the KBC app approaches finance as a conversation, offering users a messaging-style view of their transactions. In one quick glance, they discover the most recent money exchange for each contact, much like a chat history on messaging apps.
A direct hit
Simple, accessible and fun … the KBC K’Ching allows swift basic mobile banking transactions. As a result the KBC app hit it off with young people: 80% of current users fall within the 12 to 24 age group. Of those 80%, two thirds are minors — indicating that the app’s value proposition matches the targeted demographic.
Roadmap for the future
From the initial design sprint to Version 1.0 that went live in the app stores just eight months later, we can be proud of the open-minded collaboration and what has been achieved so far.
The new K’Ching chat bot app is a pioneer in the world of banking and an example of innovative UX design. The chatbot already carries the intrinsic potential and groundwork for artificial intelligence and smart interactions that we roadmapped for later releases.
We will continue to partner with KBC in defining an appropriate voice and tone for K’Ching, and in shaping future improvements to the app while bringing responsible finance into the daily lives of the younger generation.
KBC Bank is a Belgian universal multi-channel insurer, and a part of the KBC Group, one of Europe’s most recognisable financial institutions. The group is the second largest bancassurer in Belgium, the 18th largest bank in Europe and a major financial player in Central and Eastern Europe, employing some 51,000 staff worldwide and serving 11 million customers worldwide.
The KBC Group’s overall aim is to be an independent, medium-sized provider of bancassurance for private clients and enterprises in selected European countries, with a focus on asset management and in financial markets.