Simple, intuitive financial services… at your local bank?

Fin-techs and big-techs are changing the financial industry. Digital platforms dominate the market and bring a new, intelligent start-up to the scene almost every month. Innovation has become a driving force for the sector—and this also impacts customer expectations. Traditional German companies, such as Sparkasse bank, are under enormous pressure to deliver ever improving digital solutions in order to maintain the loyalty of their customers and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Client Sparkasse, FI, DSGV
  • Year Since 2013
  • Website
  • Our Role Product Design
    Design System
    Commercial Spot

Drastic change requires drastic measures

Change is a constant factor in the financial world and has been since the beginning of the 21st century—that’s a fact. From newly founded fin-techs and global players entering the market with state-of-the-art solutions to financial scandals and global crises caused by unethical business practices—whenever the financial industry struggles with change, the entire world bears the brunt of the impact.

This is why global financial service providers are striving to stay up-to-date and relevant, while acting ethically correct to inspire the loyalty of their customers by offering them services that meet the above criteria. For local and national banks, it is more important than ever to keep up with global competition and to better understand their customers and their needs in order to continue to provide relevant services.

When it comes to reliable banking solutions, Sparkasse has long been a pioneer in the industry, who creates trust to win over its customers. At the same time, Sparkasse was quick to recognize the need to develop innovative solutions to long-standing challenges. One can no longer rely solely on stability and availability to leave a lasting impression on today’s customers. To meet their financial goals and needs, user friendly and modern solutions are a must.

„It was our goal to convey the personal relationship that makes Sparkasse special into every design decision.”

We wondered:

How can Sparkasse adapt its services and create offers, products and functions that interact with its customers in a completely new way?
How can Sparkasse achieve its digital goals and continue to be a trusted, personal and local partner at the same time?
How can we develop high-quality design solutions within the complex structures and static culture of such a large organization?

Partnership as a driving force for a company—and its customers

When Sparkasse was looking for a trustworthy partner, they approached us to support them on their path. We have since established a long-lasting cooperation and have been working closely with Sparkasse on wide variety of projects—from drafting new product ideas to testing new ways of modernizing and redesigning existing services holistically. The fact that personal and local ties are of great import—a fact most fintech start-ups tend to forget—remains at the center of every endeavor with Sparkasse. We are delighted to work with such an exciting partner and to present some projects, of which we are particularly proud.


Financial advice with a radically user-centered approach

If a company has made innovation the motto of their mission, innovative action is the logical step to follow. And Sparkasse was ready to do just that. Together, we developed a completely new vision for their software and services that optimizes each interaction and focuses on the user.

Today, most banks work with a kind of “dashboard” where customers can see the most important user data and financial details at a glance. We therefore wondered if we could use this dashboard to understand the needs of the users—and to offer them free advice on how to use their assets wisely. This led to another essential question: What tools would advisors need to identify individual needs and challenges in their clients’ financial planning to come up with appropriate solutions?

In close cooperation with Sparkasse, we devised an intuitive dashboard that not only provides information, but also provides focused support for customers to manage their assets. By providing a holistic picture of the financial status, the dashboard identifies gaps in services currently used and offers significantly more orientation and control in the long term.


Loan applications on the go—and in a matter of minutes

Oftentimes, Sparkasse approaches us with an idea and asks us for our opinion if and/or how the idea could be implemented. For us, the answer is never about “just” the idea. The challenge is to first define the key questions that the design process must consider and solve in order to make the project a success.

One example is the “S-Payment” project. It originated from the idea of enabling loan applications via smartphones. Our central questions were:

How can we bring the regular loan application process to mobile devices?
How can we break down barriers, inspire the trust necessary, while ensuring a high degree of user-friendliness?
What is the exact plan and what resources do we need in order to develop the product and bring it to market?

Over the course of a four-week design sprint, we developed a concept, initial designs and several prototypes to test the idea. We invited potential customers to try out the prototypes in our offices and solicited their detailed feedback. In the final step, we documented the entire process and combined our findings in a report that provided Sparkasse with an ideal basis for further planning.

2012 - today

A design system for the internal omnichannel platform

Sparkasse banks are ubiquitous in Germany with locations all across the country. As such, Sparkasse sought to standardize and streamline the internal software. This vision included everything from information architecture to service design that provided a visually consistent platform for all end devices and end users. Together with Sparkasse, we developed a design system that takes into account the different user scenarios and combines all platform functions in a single homogeneous visual language.

Now fully developed and launched at all Sparkasse locations, the project has enjoyed overwhelming success throughout the organization and the streamlined functionality has made the software much more user-friendly for consultants—and does so across a wide range of touchpoints. For customers, it gives the “Sparkasse Experience” a more personal touch, while making data management easier on both sides of the counter.

Other design initiatives

In addition to our long-term projects, Sparkasse occasionally commissions us to assist in analyzing new concepts and strategies. A large number of exciting new ideas and collaborations have been concocted as a result—many of which, however, have not see the light of day.

What's the result?

We are truly proud of our contributions made in partnership with Sparkasse over the years. What we truly find special is experiencing such an open approach and innovative spirit in an industry that often carries a skeptical and stubborn attitude towards change—no matter how necessary. At the same time, we are convinced that this is the only way for large national and local financial service providers to stay competitive and remain the first choice for their customers.

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