a banking platform paving the path to the future

The new OTP mobile bank isn’t just a cutting-edge experience. It’s a product that catalysed a massive organisational transformation – and we were there to help at every step.

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A new product that serves as a rallying call

OTP, one of the largest bank groups of the CEE region, realised that building best-in-class digital competence will define its future. But turning a classic banking organisation into an agile product development powerhouse required a fundamental transformation.

The bank had to face the reality that a shift of this magnitude will take years to carry out. This is why they looked for a partner who could serve as an innovation engine to provide extra momentum for their more imminent strategic product development needs.

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As OTP’s innovation partner, Supercharge took responsibility for designing and implementing the new digital experience for retail customers. The result of our collaboration was a new, high-performing product that also worked as a catalyser and training ground for the bank’s emerging new digital division.

Once we had designed and built the MVP, we gradually handed it over to OTP’s internal teams while providing mentoring and guidance to set them up for success.

OTP bank in numbers
OTP Group in numbers

The mission: reimagining the future of online banking

OTP’s internet and mobile bank had been serving its customers reliably, as it enabled them to remotely take care of their most common daily banking activities. While the numbers still looked very good, the bank came to the conclusion that the platform was approaching the end of its lifecycle: it was a comfortable tool for conducting transactions but couldn’t serve as the engine of future sales efforts and innovative features.

The bank was eager to figure out what the next big thing was going to be and we have been tasked to explore how the new platform could add the greatest possible value to their business.

Falling in line with the industry trend of financial institutions becoming ever more approachable and human-centred, we set out to drastically improve the UX and usability of their ageing platform.

OTP Mobile Bank Transactions Screen
OTP's new mobile bank

But besides this obvious base goal, we were a lot more curious to delve into some areas that go beyond daily transactions. In a world where branch office visits are becoming less and less frequent, how can a digital platform take over the advisory and sales functions previously performed by human representatives? How can it become a tool for financial education? How can we build a flexible platform to enable the fast-moving, agile product development setup that the bank has envisioned?

Along comes your personal financial advisor

Our solution was an omnichannel digital experience that goes way beyond just enabling transactions. Instead, we created a trusted digital advisor. Good advice is always personal and timely, so we made sure that our platform would be fully modular to show only the required information (and only in the relevant context). It helps users answer the most crucial question of their financial life: what happened to my money… and what I can learn from that?

In later stages, the platform will increasingly target questions aimed at the future: what can I expect to happen based on my financial history? What should I do to make smart financial decisions that positively influence my future? In order to drive business and offer tangible value for the customers too, these insights are linking to flows that enable users to take immediate action and manage their finances in real-time.

The future of banking is mobile

We kicked off this project with a bold statement: “the future of banking is mobile.” Even if not all customers will exclusively opt for mobile access, there is a growing segment that does so. This means that the mobile application can’t play second fiddle to the web version anymore. To drive this point home, we first designed every single feature for the small screen. In short, we aimed to deliver an experience where using the web is an option, not a necessity.

A new visual language to fuse futurism and humanism

We knew that if we wanted to design a platform that would serve as the bank’s face for a future generation of customers, we needed to make sure that the visual language was telling the right story. OTP’s future is about relentless innovation and extreme focus on customer needs: but could we convey this simply through User Interface elements? Now we think that the answer is yes.

The resulting visual world remains in line with the OTP brand, but the three-dimensional membranes create a distinctly futuristic, yet still soft and welcoming feel. This interface talks about technical progress – but a progress that makes us humans feel better and live better.

The softness of the shadows, and the resemblance to the physical world creates a nice and inviting atmosphere to the virtual space, while still being minimal and function focused.
This textile can be stretched on any shape, so the design language is easily scalable.
UI elements are covered with a soft textile-like cover. With a light source above the screen, these shapes are resulting nice soft shadows, which are emphasising visual hierarchy.

Designing a bank for everyone

OTP is the heavy-weight champion of the Hungarian market. Its 3 million retail customers come from every segment of the society; their background, goals, tech and financial savviness vary enormously. To create an experience catering to so many different needs required special design techniques impacting everything from information architecture to copywriting. On top of that, our focus went well beyond differences in skills and financial habits: both teams felt strongly responsible for making the application accessible to those who live with disabilities. 

To ensure that no one is left behind we interviewed hundreds of customers during a continuous user research process, constantly evaluating not just usability but also how our solution seemed to fit with mental models and expectations. We conducted special tests, iterating the product until it worked perfectly with screen readers for the visually impaired. This, combined with the context-aware, personalised insights has resulted in an experience that is scalable for a large customer base but still feels customised to individual user needs.

Technical complexity behind experience simplicity

To transform into an agile product organisation, our client didn’t just need to develop their organisational structure but also their IT landscape. As we progressed with the vision of the new platform it became increasingly clear that the current monolithic middleware servicing the bank’s digital channels won’t be able to power a radically new experience.

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Besides being responsible for the implementation of the front-end experience, we were also heavily involved in defining and building the underlying micro-service architecture and its components.

This new distributed architecture provides the much-needed flexibility and scalability for future innovations. In an enterprise project of this complexity, feasibility is a two-way street: product features (push notifications, PFM, etc.) introduce new requirements for the underlying tech – while existing unchangeable elements (such as the core-banking system) influence what can be designed.

We were able to help the bank tread this fine line because our experts had a holistic understanding of both sides of the coin. To enable a short time to market, we also created a roadmap that gradually expands the platform’s functionality as soon as the advancing back-end capabilities make it possible.

Handover and mentoring

OTP had a clear goal in mind: building an organisation that can continuously bring forth successful innovation while enhancing their existing products through rapid release cycles. While we worked on the foundations of the platform, they were able to focus on this immense shift that affected their organisational structure, processes and company culture as well.

When the new agile set-up had been finalised and we finished the design and implementation work on the 1.0 version of the platform, we started a gradual handover to the bank’s internal product teams. This process lasted for several months and it didn’t just include transferring design assets and source codes: it was an intense mentoring and training period during which we made sure to set them up for success in the future.

As the platform is being rolled out to millions of OTP customers and we see an influx of heart-warming reviews, we feel incredibly proud that we could support the bank throughout this ambitious venture. 

As their innovation partner, Supercharge crafted a ground-breaking product and also helped to transform the entire organisation to become capable of rendering digital channels even better in the years to come.

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