Design and experience principles

The OBIE has employed a number of design and experience principles to create the CEG. This section lays out the principles of informed decision making, providing customers with well designed experiences (using the principles of control, speed, transparency, security and trust) as well as how to protect vulnerable customers.

Open Banking products and services must place the customer in control

ASPSPs and TPPs should design customer journeys equivalent to or better than the journeys described in these guidelines in order to deliver the best possible experience and outcome.

Open Banking products and services must therefore enable:

  • Informed decision making: Customer journeys must be intuitive and information must be easily assimilated in order to ensure informed customer decision making.
  • Simple and easy navigation: There must be no unnecessary steps, delay or friction in the customer journey.
  • Parity of Experience: The experience available to a PSU when authenticating a journey via a TPP should involve no more steps, delay or friction in the customer journey than the equivalent experience they have when interacting directly with their ASPSP.
  • Familiarity and trust: The customer must only need to use the login credentials provided by the ASPSP.

Customer in control

The Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) has undertaken considerable customer research over 18 months in order to understand how to enable customers to make informed decisions while enjoying a simple and easy navigation and a secure customer journey. A key principle throughout has been to ensure clarity of information, presented and described in a manner that ensures that Open Banking customer journeys are easy to understand, thereby enabling customers to make informed decisions. The results of this research have been shared with stakeholders as the foundations for Open Banking have been established.

The OBIE recognises that consumers and SMEs are not yet familiar with Open Banking enabled propositions. They have therefore had to interpret the concepts to be investigated based on their experience and the explanations provided in the research groups or panels. This form of ex-ante research has some limitations as there is often a difference between what customers say they will do and what they then actually do. Observed behaviours and attitudes from respondents have at times been contrary. For example, respondents will express a concern that they want to be secure and protected, but in practice they value convenience and will react with frustration to complex journeys often skimming the most important information. The consequence of this is that customers may not review the information sufficiently and may make decisions that they might later wish to reconsider. It has become clear that it is extremely important to minimise unnecessary information and process, and then to package only the most important information in an easily understandable, intuitive way so that the customer can actually assimilate the information and therefore make better informed decisions.

OBIE research has therefore identified information and steps which assist the customer as well as unnecessary steps, delays, inputs or additional information that may lead to customer frustration and subsequent drop out, or a failure to review important relevant information. In future research it is expected that further refinements based on ex-post data will be possible.

We examine the nature of both useful and unhelpful elements of the customer journey below.

Useful elements in the customer journey

Many customers are prone to skim through the information presented to them when setting up online products because the information is not well presented. In their desire to achieve the promised benefit, insufficient notice is taken of the implications of their actions, or the terms and conditions. It is commonplace to discover, once they have completed the customer journey, that they cannot spontaneously describe what they have just agreed to. The research has shown that a better understanding can be achieved by carefully designing the customer journey, and reveals that the solution is about effective, intuitive presentation of information, and is not about introducing steps to slow the customer down or repeating information. The following methods have been found to be the most effective:

  • Effective messages and navigation appropriate to the redirection screens when the customer is redirected from the TPP to the ASPSP, and then again when the customer is redirected back from the ASPSP to the TPP. For a customer that has granted consent to the TPP the redirection screen creates a clear sense of separation as they enter the ASPSP’s domain where they authenticate, before clearly being passed back to the TPP. This provides a familiar and trusted experience to the customer and signposts the customer’s journey from one domain to the other
  • Providing useful information presented in an intuitive and easily consumable way. The principle here is to ensure that the information that the customer is presented with is kept to a minimum. If it is unavoidably necessary for the TPP to convey more complex information, it is more likely to be read and understood when presented as a series of smaller amounts of information across more than one screen. This is a much more effective method than the use of a single text-heavy screen.
  • Providing supplementary information at specific points in the customer journey is useful, helping the customer to understand the process as well as ensuring comprehension of a product or offer and its implications. If executed well, it will enhance the customer journey and does not lead to increased propensity to drop off.

Unhelpful elements in the customer journey

The research has shown that superfluous information, poor or confusing choice of words, repetition, large amounts of text, too many steps or avoidable delays in the customer journey can lead to frustration, an even greater tendency to skim, and ultimately increase customer drop off. The following unhelpful elements were identified in the research and must be avoided:

  • A customer authentication journey that takes too long and requires the use of separate devices such as one time password generators, especially if applied multiple times in the customer journey.
  • Where there are fewer screens but a significant amount of text on the screen. This is particularly evident when this requires customers to scroll up and down the screen to progress the customer journey.
  • Providing superfluous information that does not add to the customer’s understanding or trust, especially when presented in a separate step or screen.
  • Delays such as slow loading times, as well as web pages or apps that have not been effectively debugged, and unexpected crashing of web pages or apps.
  • Inappropriate use of language, particularly language which may create a level of concern, uncertainty and doubt when going through the customer journey.
  • The use of language that is too long, complex or legalistic to be easily understood when going through the customer journey.
  • Asking for the same information twice, and asking for information for which there is no obvious purpose, e.g. replaying the consent to the customer that was granted to the TPP, or asking for a PIN when it is not needed.
  • Forcing the customer to open a new browser window during the customer journey, and having to toggle between screens in order to progress.
  • Introducing the requirement for a customer to input information that they don’t readily have to hand, such as unique customer reference numbers
  • Requesting input of information that could reasonably be expected to be pre-populated once the customer has authenticated.
  • Failing to differentiate between new users and experienced regular users who may want to shorten the customer journey without exposing themselves to risk.

Customer experience principles

The Open Banking customer experience must ensure informed decision making while remaining understandable, intuitive and effective. The customer experience must be shaped and positioned into content and functionality that clearly communicates and facilitates purpose, intent and relevance.

This is especially true in a transactional context where customers need to know and understand at all times:

  • Where they are in a specific process (and what they should expect from that process).
  • Where they have come from.
  • What options, actions or steps they have in front of them (if any).
  • The (implicit) consequences of taking those actions or next steps.
  • An unambiguous signal, feedback and/or response, once that action is taken.

It is essential to move beyond the pure mechanics of the transactional process and into a meaningful, supportive and trusted experience that directly addresses the customer’s needs, goals and concerns. This can be achieved in the way a transaction is structured, but also how it is expressed, designed for and organised around a range of fluctuating human needs.

A series of guiding ‘experience principles’ are outlined here that can be, through careful design, baked into a process or transaction, and dialled up and down where certain interactions become more critical.

These guiding experience principles are deeply customer-centred, shaped by research and insight that reflects and meets specific customer needs. They are used to drive and focus design and User Experience (UX) decisions i.e. what kind of widget, interaction, font, colour, technology, UX and User Interface (UI) best serves the aspirations and requirements of the business but also meets the needs of the customer in simple, effective ways.

Extensive customer research undertaken by OBIE has demonstrated certain recurring themes that customers deeply care about or are worried by. To promote engagement, understanding and ensure adoption these must be addressed, to varying degrees, within each of the Open Banking customer journeys described in these guidelines.

To support and achieve the goal of creating trust, these themes have been aggregated and synthesised into a number of driving experience principles for Open Banking. These principles underpin the range of core journeys and key customer interactions described throughout these guidelines.

The introduction of any kind of new transaction, product or service – especially online – can create an opportunity for deeper engagement. However, it can also create barriers through poor implementation. From a consumer perspective, this is often about a perceived sense of control.

If customers feel they understand what is going on in a process, are able to make informed decisions and choices on their own terms – including recourse to change their mind – it provides a sense of ownership and control over what is happening. In a transactional context, where money and data are potentially at stake, getting this right is essential.

For Open Banking, control comes from providing the the right tools and clarity of information at the right time (e.g. knowing the account balance at the point of payment, or knowing that they can view and revoke consents given when they feel it is appropriate to do so).

TPPs and ASPSPs need to consider how they provide this sense of ownership and specific optionality throughout – enabling customers to feel this is a process they are both choosing and in charge of.

Speed must be appropriate to the customer and the journey they are undertaking. Convenient, speedy and intuitive design is a question of execution and interaction.

In transactional context, anything that seems more time consuming or onerous than customers are used to is going to represent a barrier to adoption. We have to manage and optimise each interaction, as well as hand-off between systems for speed, clarity and efficiency, but without sacrificing the principles of security and control.

In addition, we have to be mindful that speed of transaction or interaction is not necessarily about the ‘fastest possible’ experience. As we have indicated, we must support informed decision making through comprehension and clarity (especially in the context of AIS), allowing customers to, above all, move at a pace that suits them.

TPPs and ASPSPs need to ensure that Open Banking customer journeys remain flexible enough to support different customer contexts, expectations and situations and – critically – avoid any unnecessary friction in the completion of any journey.

Transparency of choice, action, and importantly the consequences of actions or sharing of data is crucial to promoting the benefits of Open Banking, creating engagement and supporting adoption.

In new transactional scenarios where customers are being encouraged to share personal information this is critical. It is not only about communicating the benefits of a new service, but being explicitly clear on what is required from the customer, why it is required, and for what purposes. Customers need to be able to make an informed decision and, in turn, understand the consequences of that decision.

Sharing information is seen as unavoidable, and a trade-off for convenience and benefits. And while this is a great opportunity for TPPs and ASPSPs, the value exchange for the consumer needs to be explicitly clear.

At the same time, we do not want to overburden the customer or weigh down the business opportunity with excessive explanations. Transparency is about providing progressive levels of information, in plain language, that inform and support customer decisions.

In the context of Security the key concerns for customers are fraud, which everyone understands, and data privacy, which is less well defined in the minds of consumers, since not everyone has the same idea about what ‘my data’ actually means (e.g. is it my name and address? Passwords? Names of my kids? Transactional history?) Nor is it well understood what businesses even do with their data once they get their hands on it. Such concerns can be even deeper amongst SMEs.

Explicit clarity and reassurance will be required in relation to data definition, usage, security and above all, protection.

In addition to personal data, transactional (data) security is the critical factor to ensure adoption of PISP services. As a minimum, TPPs and ASPSPs must ensure this is no less than consumers expect today.

As a new service, all security messaging should be clear and reassuring in tone, but not alarmist.

Customers are aware of the risks of sharing personal information and as expected some types of customer, particularly older demographics, may initially express cautiousness and nervousness.

It is therefore critical to establish and reinforce trustworthiness – trust in the service provider, trust in the transactional process and trust in the role and relationship with their ASPSPs, especially in a payment context where traditional, deeply established alternatives remain available.

The principles of control, speed, transparency and security combine to create a trusted environment for the customer.

TPPs and ASPSPs need to consider, engender and promote values of trust through every part of their Open Banking customer journeys, to foster understanding, acceptance and adoption of new innovative products and services.

Protection for vulnerable customers

Customers deemed as vulnerable, or in vulnerable circumstances, may be significantly less able to effectively manage or represent their own interests than the average customer, and more likely to suffer detriment. This may take the form of unusual spending, taking on unnecessary financial commitments or inadvertently triggering an unwanted event . Any customer can become vulnerable at any time in their life, for example through serious illness or personal problems such as divorce, bereavement or loss of income. Consent and data privacy issues are particularly relevant and important for people with mental health issues. Work done by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute in the UK has shown the need to emphasise informed decision making, with appropriate steps and information in online experiences in order to help those with mental health problems to make informed decisions, understand the potential consequence of their decisions, or even deter a particular course of action.

ASPSPs have a particular responsibility to identify and protect vulnerable customers, needing to pay attention to possible indicators of vulnerability at a holistic level and have policies in place to deal with customers where those indicators suggest they may be at greater risk of harm. For those customers identified as vulnerable, the policies applied should be implemented at customer level, not at the transaction level or not specifically to Open Banking, just as is the case for vulnerable customers using other products provided by the ASPSP.

ASPSPs should take the following steps for vulnerable customers using products that make use of Open Banking:

  • Provide support for vulnerable customers incorporating information from the Open Banking channel. ASPSPs should consider this issue holistically, treating Open Banking as they would any other customer channel. The ASPSP, having insight into customer behaviour, is well placed to provide the appropriate support, recognising that no single Open Banking customer journey should trigger vulnerability flags to the ASPSP.
  • Provide useful and informative access dashboards within the ASPSPs domain that give vulnerable customers the control they need over their financial affairs and personal data. Vulnerable customers should be able to see full details of all the consents granted to TPPs, the data shared, the expiry date and to have the ability to revoke their consent.
  • It is suggested that provision should be made in the ASPSP’s access dashboard enabling customers to switch on a summary information step as an opted-in choice. This represents a final chance for the customer to pause and review within the ASPSP’s domain so that this step is shown to them in all Open Banking customer journeys.