Understand Your Fintech Customer Pains Without Spending $1,000s on UX Research

How can fintech startups understand their customers’ exact needs and pain points without breaking the bank? And is there such a thing as budget UX research? In this post, we discuss some of the most cost-effective UX research tools and best practices. 

The ultimate goal of almost any UX designer (incl. those in fintech) out there is to create an end-to-end customer or user experience that will meet their needs and demands in the best possible way. To achieve this, they’ll have to study and truly understand the end-users – their preferences and needs along with any issues or “pains” they might face on their way to fulfilling those needs and wants. 

But, conducting consumer or user research is often a costly and extremely difficult exercise, especially for early-stage startups with limited in-house resources and capabilities. So, if you’re one of them and you’re looking for more cost-effective alternative solutions, you’re in the right place. In this post, we uncover some of the most budget-friendly consumer research techniques and dive deep into what pain points actually mean for fintech UX.

What do we mean by “pain points” in UX?

Simply put, the term “pain point” is used in UX design to identify any issues or hurdles that the end-user might face during their customer journey, and when interacting with a particular company, product, or service. 

So, often, the different types of pain points are defined as per the following 2 core levels:

Interaction-level pain point

A user is trying to get hold of a company representative or customer support, and they’re passed from one person to another. We’ve all been there. Inefficient interactions like these often result in time wasted and cause consumer frustration or “pain”. 

Source: Twitter

Journey-level pain point 

A user requests a refund and the refund gets delayed.  Any interruptions during a user’s buyer journey like delayed account opening, account creation rejection, system not loading, cancelled payment or refund, etc. can also cause pain and prevent them from achieving their goal and meeting their needs. 

Source: Twitter

What are some of the usual consumer pain points in fintech?

In this section, we take a look at some of the most common pain points experienced by consumers in the fintech sector. 

Lack of trust and transparency – The lack of trust is probably the most common issue faced by fintech users. For most of them, money and personal finances are quite a delicate matter. Giving access to your personal finances and data usually requires much more rational thinking and behaviour. 

Unethical fee structures, financial scandals and crimes are also only a few of the factors which have generally put users off the financial sector. 

Onboarding compliance and authentication – Opening an account with a fintech provider is not as straightforward as users are used to with other applications on the web. Most financial products and services are subject to strict regulatory and compliance requirements and restrictions due to the high risks of fraud and financial crime in the sector. 

Fintech apps are amongst the most tempting targets for cyberattacks and criminals. Whilst one of the biggest benefits of fintech is that it democratises finance and gives customers greater accessibility, it ironically does the same for cybercriminals and hackers. Cashless payments, online banking and digital transactions have opened a series of new opportunities for hackers and cybercriminals to exploit the system and gain access to sensitive user information.

To minimise those risks, most fintech apps include various security product features like identity verifications, login limitations, card number view restrictions, transaction limits, which disrupt the user experience and can create friction or pain for the customer.  

"I connected the PIN code for a quick authentication instead of a password. The authentication screen displayed the enter box, keypad and exit button. I wanted to go to the preloading screen where the ATM map was and taped on “exit”. It turned out to reset my PIN. Next time I had to do a full authentication process in the app and create new PIN." - Jana, 19 years, Mobile App*

Navigation and usability – Finance is complex, so are the majority of fintech products out there. Cash flow, invoicing, ETFs, financial statements are just a few examples of the jargon users could encounter when using fintech applications. Traditional financial products are also famous for not being created with the customer in mind but to meet the companies’ specific needs instead. This often results in poor and restrictive navigation and inadequate usability for the end-users, especially those who are not tech and financially savvy.     

"My corporate Internet Bank has transferred to a new version. It has become more like a mobile app. Many functions disappeared, and the ones left were hard to be found. I had to regularly call tech support since it was not clear where to find the needed functions." - Ted, 33 years, Desktop*


Notifications – For most users, one of the key goals of using a fintech product in the first place is to keep control of their financial activity. Unfortunately, many financial products are still failing to fully meet this need and provide the right amount of monitoring and notification features. 

"My app doesn't send me notifications about incoming payment if it is in different currency than my local one. Since I am a freelancer — such transactions are prevailing, so I don't know whether the client paid for my work or not." - Liza, 23 years, Mobile App*

Speed – Like all digital products out there, the speed of loading is critical for fintech apps too. Longer app load time can turn off app users and affect their overall perception of the product. 

For many fintech products, speed also plays a major role in the effective and timely management of users’ funds. Delayed transactions can create some major disruption for end users.  

Fraud resolution and customer support – As we mentioned earlier, fintech users are exposed to a risk of fraud. So, providing adequate fraud resolution features is also key for any fintech UX. Unfortunately, in most cases, the process is still far from delivering a pleasant and user-friendly experience. According to a recent study by Lightico, customers who opt to complete fraud applications digitally are “continuously bounced across online and offline channels”. 

What are some of the most cost-effective UX research tools out there?

Although there are a number of common pain points faced by most fintech users in the sector, pains tend to vary depending on users’ personal traits and circumstances. That’s why, studying and understanding the exact behaviour, needs and wants of your target user segment is essential for developing a fully functional and lovable end product. 

Knowing what bothers customers can further help you:  

  • define the ultimate purpose of your product, 
  • to effectively communicate your true purpose with both key internal and external stakeholders, and 
  • save budget on developing any unnecessary features. 

Here comes UX or consumer research. Whilst doing consumer research in the digital age might seem easy as there are plenty of tools that facilitate the process, it is often a quite laboursome, lengthy and expensive process. 

However, there are still a few alternative, budget-friendly approaches out there that you can take to study the market. 

Secondary research 

Whilst collecting primary data was everything in the past, nowadays, the internet is full of secondary information that can serve as a very good starting point in your UX research journey. And the main benefit of this approach is that you can find information about user behaviour and decision-making from a variety of industries that can give you a different perspective and innovative ideas. 

Usability testing 

The usability testing method is simply inviting users to test product prototypes and observing their behaviour as they’re navigating the product. This is one of the most common UX research techniques and can be quite cost-effective if it’s done in an agile way.

Online surveys 

Another affordable UX research tool that is widely used by both large and small organisations, is the conduction of online surveys or questionnaires. With simple apps like SurveyMonkey and Typeform, researching large audiences of 100s or even 1,000s of users has never been easier. One way to distribute your surveys and collect respondents is by using social media, digital community platforms and emails. 

Guerilla research 

Guerrilla research involves gathering feedback externally from the general public. The main advantage of this method is that it can help you gather some instant and specific information about your product and the user perceptions. Also, guerrilla research could be virtually cost-free if you don’t take into account the time you’d spend.    

Remote customer development interviews 

Organising and running interviews for consumer research used to be a costly and hard process, but not anymore. With remote meeting tools like Zoom and Google Meet, you can easily schedule and do multiple live 1-on-1 interviews. 

The key to implementing effective customer development interviews is the ability to listen. With interviews, there’s always a risk of the interviewer navigating the conversation in a certain direction, significantly jeopardising the objectivity of the user feedback. Keeping your questions open like the ones below can help you avoid this issue. 

Sample interview questions: 

  1. Can you tell me how you deal with [general problem space] (e.g. recruitment, growth, finance, etc.)?
  2. What’s preventing you from [specific problem] (e.g. acquiring customers, recruiting talented staff, etc.)?
  3. What have you done to fix [specific problem]?
  4. When was the last time you tried to solve that problem?
  5. Why hasn’t it completely worked?
  6. How much do you feel this problem is costing you/your company?


To sum up, when it comes to UX research, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The ultimate solution for your organisation will be based on the type of product you’re building, the target audience, and their unique needs or preferences. 

But this doesn’t mean that it has to necessarily break the bank. In today’s digital world, there are numerous cost-effective alternatives to UX research that can help companies of any size and budget get to know their users’ exact pain points and build a truly exceptional customer experience. 

* https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/14956/banks-are-doomed-if-they-dont-care-about-users-pain-points

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