Wise

Our goal was to bring transparency to an untransparent financial industry.

Wise

Our goal was to bring transparency to an untransparent financial industry.

Wise

Our goal was to bring transparency to an untransparent financial industry.

TL;DR

I joined the Comparison team at Wise with a mission to make comparing transfer providers easier. Through continuous discovery, workshops and ideation we were able to ship meaningful features fast, whilst building a vision for the future.

Overview

Sending money abroad is deceptively expensive, thanks to hidden fees. The banks claim “free money transfers” and “0% commission” whilst adjusting the exchange rate to make money.

Wise lets people send money abroad at the lowest possible true cost. Using only real exchange rates and transparent fees. I worked within the Comparison team for over a year and helped ship dozens of features to help bring transparency to international money transfers.

Process

Level up quickly

Having just joined Wise as a contractor, and having never sent money internationally before, it's fair to say I had no knowledge in this space. The first thing I did was plan some generative user research to speak to real people to see how they currently transfer money and what areas of opportunity there was for the Comparison team.

One key insight I learned from the team was that most providers offer "zero fees" on transfers, but actually hide their fee within the currency conversion. Wise refers to this as "hidden fees".

User interviews to gain empathy

I ran an unmoderated study on usertesting.com with 10 participants to begin gathering insights whilst recruiting for several moderated in-person interviews. The unmoderated study set me up nicely with breadcrumbs and clues that I was able to validate and probe deeper into during the in-person interviews.

Asking the in-person participants to interact with the existing Wise website alongside several competitors gave us valuable insight into what the decision criteria was for choosing a transfer provider.

Affinity map to cluster key learnings

Following the user interviews the team grouped the learnings so as to identify key areas of opportunity. Several themes emerged.

  1. Trust - Even if the rate is worse, participants still use their bank as they trust them

  2. Security - Looking for reassurance that the provider is legitimate

  3. Speed - Needing certainty on when money will arrive for emergencies

  4. Ease of comparison - Keep it simple and don't clutter the experience

  5. Fees - Participants tend to Google "lowest fee" or "no fees"

"How Might We" workshop to ideate solutions

The team jumped at the opportunity to share their thoughts on how we could solve the participants pain points and it was the first time many of them had been so involved in defining the future of the product.The team produced several great ideas which we ranked on an impact/effort matrix.

  1. Trust - Add the Trustpilot rating for each provider in the comparison table

  2. Security - Add how many transfers had been sent through Wise to provide legitimacy

  3. Speed - Add the transfer duration for each provider into the comparison table

  4. Speed - Add how long it takes to switch to Wise (a matter of minutes) to encourage switching

  5. Fees - Highlight the hidden fee within competitor's transfer amounts

The solution

Delivering an MVP

The research indicated that speed was a crucial factor when comparing transfer providers. Even if Wise was slower than other providers they believed in full transparency and giving participants peace of mind hugely reduced anxiety. There were some bigger, more complicated features I wanted to invest time in and didn’t want to block the engineers so I quickly designed a lightweight speed comparison MVP that they could work on whilst I kept iterating.

Validating designs with users

Once I was happy with the direction of my designs I ran a round of usability testing on usertesting.com to get some quick validation, and then followed up with a round of in-person usability testing with 6 participants (3 on mobile and 3 on desktop) enabling me to dive deeper into the challenging areas and gather as much feedback as possible.

The banker and the future

When working on a single feature, or even a vision, I like to make sure I've designed what I call a "banker". The banker tends to be a lightweight solution with minimal engineering time that technically gets the job done. It's the solution where if priorities change and all of a sudden we need to start building tomorrow, I've got something tucked up my sleeve so as not to halt production.

Once I've got my banker designed, it gives me a permission slip to push things a little more, taking a few more risks, knowing that if the more intricate solution ends up falling on it's face, we've got a solution we can roll out to users.

For this project the bankers were adding speed and the Trustpilot scores into the comparison table, whilst the designs that needed more iteration were around a radically different mobile treatment for the table, as well as more explicit reference to "hidden fees". Not all of this shipped, but as a contractor, it was good to have a lot of exploration scoped in case I rolled off the project.

“I really enjoyed watching a couple of the sessions yesterday and think you did an amazing job moderating! More importantly, you managed to keep the team engaged and excited about this. I rarely see that many Engineers and PMs getting involved in user testing, so very well done.”

Julian Ohnacker

Lead Marketing Designer

“I really enjoyed watching a couple of the sessions yesterday and think you did an amazing job moderating! More importantly, you managed to keep the team engaged and excited about this. I rarely see that many Engineers and PMs getting involved in user testing, so very well done.”

Julian Ohnacker

Lead Marketing Designer

“I really enjoyed watching a couple of the sessions yesterday and think you did an amazing job moderating! More importantly, you managed to keep the team engaged and excited about this. I rarely see that many Engineers and PMs getting involved in user testing, so very well done.”

Julian Ohnacker

Lead Marketing Designer

Outcome

This piece of work was about building a user-centred cadence for the team, and shipping iterative improvements. Setting some foundations for the team to take further once I rolled off the project.