John San Filippo
Praxent’s Kristiane Mandraki Talks User Experience
Part of Our Money20/20 Interview Series
By John San Filippo
Money20/20 USA, the fintech mega-conference, was once again held in Las Vegas, this year from Oct. 23-26. And once again, Finopotamus was onsite talking with industry leaders about a wide range of topics. These interviews are captured in this series of articles.
Finopotamus spoke with Praxent’s Director of Business Development and Marketing Kristiane Mandraki to discuss trends in user experience (UX).
Finopotamus: Briefly describe Praxent’s business model.
Mandraki: We're a fintech product agency. We help financial services companies – banking, lending, wealth management, insurance, and starting to move into the crypto world as well. We’re helping them design and build new products. We optimize the user experience on the current ones or modernize and redesign their existing ones.
Finopotamus: Can you give an example of Praxent’s work in the credit union space?
Mandraki: Digital banking CUSO (Raleigh, N.C.-based) Constellation Digital Partners is one of our clients. We helped them redesign their user interface (UI), which is being launched a bit later this year. We're also working directly with their credit union clients to help them configure the product.
Credit unions have amazing marketing people, but they don't usually have UX designers. They might have an engineer, but they really don't have the product design piece. We're coming in and helping them improve that user experience and making things consistent so that it builds trust with their members.
We're also working with (Santa Clara, Calif.-based) Meriwest Credit Union. They had just implemented (NCR’s) Terafina (online account opening product) and were experiencing drop-offs in their account opening experience. We worked with them to do user research and understand why people were dropping off. We did a UX audit, which is a designer going through and identifying places of friction within the experience. Based on that, we're redesigning their website and then configuring Terafina so that it's consistent throughout and increases their account opening conversions.
Finopotamus: What is the primary problem that Praxent solves for credit unions?
Mandraki: The biggest one that I see is this: Credit unions are buying everything mostly off the shelf. When you have all of these different systems, from a user perspective, there's a lot of inconsistencies between those products and that creates friction between them. This leads to some kind of user issue like account opening drop-offs or member retention problems. They bring us in to help understand why there’s an issue and how to fix it.
Finopotamus: Praxent has mentioned Web 2.5. What exactly does that mean?
Mandraki: Web 3 is all decentralized, right? That's the ideal state, at least in terms of crypto. It’s entirely decentralized and you have custody of your own assets and things like that. But the reality is that the user experience is horrible. It's so complex, it's so difficult. You could be very technically savvy and it's really hard to figure out. What is a wallet? Why do I need a wallet? Now I want to buy this different cryptocurrency, but I can't get it on this wallet. So I have to get a different wallet. Then if you're trying to take assets off of an exchange, that's also really complex.
Web 2.5 is this like the bridge in between Web 2 and Web 3. How can banks and credit unions enable and improve that user experience so that the everyday person can take advantage of cryptocurrencies and blockchain? In many cases, that has to do with the user experience.
In other cases, how can financial institutions (FIs) utilize blockchain technology? There are so many use cases that could be opened by blockchain technology. Web 2.5 is this middle bit between decentralized and pretty decentralized.
Finopotamus: What’s a common mistake you see among banks and credit unions?
Mandraki: Because the way in which their organizations are set up, you have a head of lending and a head of this and a head of that. Technology follows that same organizational structure. And because of that, you end up with one product over here and one product over here and one product over here. But from a user's perspective, they're not looking at it like that. They're looking at, I want to open an account. They're not seeing, I'm in the website and now I'm in this account opening experience. Or I want to get a loan. They're not seeing that as, oh, I'm in the digital banking experience and now I'm going into an origination system.
Members don’t know and they don’t care. I think the biggest issue that we're seeing is banks and credit unions are viewing these systems separately when really they need to look at them from the user's perspective. What is this person trying to accomplish and how can we make that as easy as possible for them? FIs need to look at it in a more holistic manner.