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Challenges in designing a bank application for the Arabic market

11 February 2019

Olga Golonka

Marketing Manager
Olga Golonka
Challenges in designing a bank application for the Arabic market

While cooperating with one of the biggest commercial banks in Saudi Arabia – Banque Saudi Fransi, we faced a huge challenge – designing an application adjusted to the needs of other culture users. We created a highly useful, mobile application which received the Silver Award in the ‘Best Mobile App Design’ category of the Best Mobile App Awards competition.

This year, in May, Saudis from Banque Saudi Fransi were looking for a trustworthy, European partner who understands the specific character of the financial field and could carry out the audit of graphical models and projects created for the need of the FransiMobile mobile application realisation. Thanks to the recommendation of one of our current customers – the Polish department of Credit Agricole belonging to the same capital group – the task was assigned to the Mobee Dick team. In spite of limits imposed by a very short deadline, the audit impressed the client with accuracy and aptness of conclusions and recommendations. During the meeting which took place in Barcelona, just three days after the first telephone conversation, the bank decided to commission Mobee Dick the whole realization.

Aim

Designing a mobile application which will increase the index of customers’ involvement, ensure the highest services quality and enable getting to a new recipients’ group – the Y generation.

Communication and process

Designing and planning products and services requires strict cooperation of the project team with a customer. Even though at the beginning it was not a problem, the distance between us and Saudi Arabia turned out to be a big challenge also because of the Polish working week being different from the one in the Middle East which starts on Sunday and finishes on Thursday.

Email communication is often little precise and makes it impossible to quickly react for misunderstandings resulting from differences in defining the terms connected with UX. Therefore, together with the customer, we decided to have three-week, very intensive workshops with the participation of the Product Owner who joined the team in Poland. It was a turning point in works upon the application as it enabled conducting the model UX process and excluding all understatements and potential misunderstandings. A short stay required a very fast pace of our team work so that the knowledge concerning the characteristics of the market, products and financial services on the local market and technical possibilities could be used to the highest degree.

Research

We started working on the project from examining and analysing deeply the features and habits of the users on the local, Arabian market. Then, we were confronting gathered materials and information with the Product Owner on the customer’s side. The family model in Saudi Arabia is surely different than the European one. For example, a man – the head of the family – is responsible for finances and he is the one to divide the money for the rest of the family. Therefore, our aim was to gain the biggest amount of the information concerning the ways users in Saudi Arabia use the Internet and mobile banking.

What surprised us the most at this stage of cooperation?

  • A specific form of communicating base products such as credits and loans so that they would be compliant with sharia.
  • Transfers realized within 24h (a transfer which is commissioned but not realised does not exist).
  • No equivalent of services available for the European banks customers (e.g., biometric logging).
  • Services not available or being just introduced by the European banks, such as the access to the bills requiring payments (e.g., water, electricity and gas) and the possibility of regulating them with one click from the bank customer panel level).
  • Huge values range – transfers for millions made in different currencies.
  • Foreign and currency transfers as regular activities.
  • Popularity of accounts in foreign currencies.

Information architecture and prototype

Good architecture of information is the basis of satisfying digital experience. Yet, the functional analysis was complicated because of non-complete technical documentation. The ecosystem the project needed to be adjusted to strongly limited application functions and each of the proposed solutions had to be adapted to the bank technical possibilities. Because of complex interdependencies among the elements of the transaction system and assistance systems, even when making small changes, we had to take the whole system efficiency into consideration.

What were the biggest challenges while graphical modelling and designing?

The necessity of thinking about the two-direction interface; the Arabic language is read from the right to the left which causes the mirror image of the interface in this language version.

Meaning differences in iconography.

Choosing the pictures presenting people in the way which does not hurt religious feelings of the bank customers.

Summary

During three months of very intensive work, we created a mobile application which intuitively allows to effectively manage finances. FransiMobile offers its users a modern look & feel which attracts the youngest customers’ group Banque Saudi Fransi wanted to reach. Right after the official premiere in the app store, the application received the Silver Award in the ‘Best Mobile App Design’ category of the Best Mobile App Awards competition.

Mobile banking plays more and more important role in everyday life of smartphones users. Banking applications are one of the most frequently used mobile applications. In the field, there are numerous challenges connected with fulfilling the needs and designing customers’ experience which may be decisive when it comes to the market advantage irrespective of the market where the financial institution operates.

In Mobee Dick we will help you create efficient digital solutions which support financial services. Write to us: hello@mobeedick.com.