Large Middle Eastern Bank

Designing and building a new hyper-localised digital bank in the Middle East
Grab mobile app card screen
A large bank in the region selected 11:FS to design and build a new digital bank that is deeply rooted in the individual context and culture of the local market.
The challenge

Our client wanted to work with 11:FS to identify how they can get ahead of the market and unlock the potential of a region steeped in financial services history. Scratching beneath the surface reveals a wealth of opportunities to use fintech to drive enormous positive social and economic change.

But the real challenge was to design and build something that is deeply rooted in the individual context and culture of our client’s market. That meant taking our deep insight and understanding of what it means to build truly digital financial propositions, while creating something that solves for the key problems customers face in a hyper-localised way.

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What we did

The Middle East is a fascinating market. It provides almost a blank canvas in terms of the current competitive landscape. Our first challenge was to build a deep understanding of the individual market and the problems that its consumers face on a daily basis.

This required a blend of comprehensive customer, competitor and cultural research. We conducted in-depth individual interviews with customers and spent time in the country carrying out detailed ethnographic research across multiple locations.

An online quantitative survey of over 1000 target customers enabled us to prioritise which customer Jobs To Be Done should form the core of our proposition, and we took these Jobs into an intensive Design Sprint.

Bringing together subject matter experts from within the client team and 11:FS, we worked through a number of different exercises, including ‘How Might We’, lightning demos, storyboarding and user mapping to design an end-to-end proposition that was grounded in solving real world customer problems.

Throughout, we used 11:FS Pulse to review the best in class user journeys from fintech apps around the world. This helped us to identify best in class principles and where there were opportunities for us to create a meaningfully different experience tailored to local needs.

Once we had scoped the core proposition, we used our research to create a brand that aligned to the cultural trends in the market and to bring our user journeys to life. We tested the culturally powered brand and the Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) with customers to ensure a tight connection between the brand and product.

11:FS defined the technical architecture that will underpin the proposition and are now applying engineering best practices to build out a modern core infrastructure with truly digital capabilities that will allow us to fundamentally rethink how we service the needs of consumers.

We collaborated closely with the client to define the operational model that would set this venture up for long-term success and also to define and embed working practices that support seamless collaboration between London and the Middle East. This has helped to ensure that we move quickly and deliver maximum impact for our client.

What we did

The Middle East is a fascinating market. It provides almost a blank canvas in terms of the current competitive landscape. Our first challenge was to build a deep understanding of the individual market and the problems that its consumers face on a daily basis.

This required a blend of comprehensive customer, competitor and cultural research. We conducted in-depth individual interviews with customers and spent time in the country carrying out detailed ethnographic research across multiple locations.

An online quantitative survey of over 1000 target customers enabled us to prioritise which customer Jobs To Be Done should form the core of our proposition, and we took these Jobs into an intensive Design Sprint.

Bringing together subject matter experts from within the client team and 11:FS, we worked through a number of different exercises, including ‘How Might We’, lightning demos, storyboarding and user mapping to design an end-to-end proposition that was grounded in solving real world customer problems.

Throughout, we used 11:FS Pulse to review the best in class user journeys from fintech apps around the world. This helped us to identify best in class principles and where there were opportunities for us to create a meaningfully different experience tailored to local needs.

Once we had scoped the core proposition, we used our research to create a brand that aligned to the cultural trends in the market and to bring our user journeys to life. We tested the culturally powered brand and the Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) with customers to ensure a tight connection between the brand and product.

11:FS defined the technical architecture that will underpin the proposition and are now applying engineering best practices to build out a modern core infrastructure with truly digital capabilities that will allow us to fundamentally rethink how we service the needs of consumers.

We collaborated closely with the client to define the operational model that would set this venture up for long-term success and also to define and embed working practices that support seamless collaboration between London and the Middle East. This has helped to ensure that we move quickly and deliver maximum impact for our client.

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Meaningful outcome

There exists a real opportunity to transform this landscape in a way that delivers meaningful value to customers, who embrace best in class digital experiences in all other aspects of their daily lives (social media, e-commerce, etc.). Regulatory appetite is also quickly shifting towards supporting this type of disruptive innovation.

While many of the problems customers have in the Middle East will be familiar to customers in other markets, there is a complex and unique cultural context that influences behaviours. Understanding these nuances will lend depth to the proposition and ensure it connects with customers in the most authentic and meaningful way.

This project has been about delivering a radically new digital-only proposition, tailored towards solving for the most important and bespoke underserved needs of customers in the client’s target market.

The proposition is underpinned by modern core infrastructure and ways of working that ensure it can be constantly evolved in line with changing consumer demands and expectations.

It is the joint ambition of 11:FS and our client that this new proposition will stand out as a global example of best practice in delivering the next generation of truly digital products and services to customers.

Strategy phase: a customer-centric proposition

Following the Design phase, 11:FS worked with Citizens Access to define their strategy for the new proposition. This involved working through some rapid concept and user testing sessions to ensure the service design helped the customer overcome the problem identified in the JTBD analysis.

11:FS moderated workshops with the Citizens Access team to define the purpose of the new proposition, its core values and the tone of voice the brand should adopt. The outputs of these workshops were combined with the cultural insights to enrich the Stories to be Told and thus their product marketing and brand strategy.

We tested different ways the brand could pitch the new proposition and arrived at a compelling direction for the Citizens Access team.

Finally, leveraging 11:FS’ vast experience of getting digital banking products to market quickly, the team defined a Minimum Loveable Product (MLP) prototype, roadmap and set of execution principles. This left the Citizens Access team with a clear direction on how to design a new breakthrough proposition and get that into the hands of their customers quickly.

GrabPay mobile app card screen
GrabPay: Southeast Asia’s leading digital wallet

Taking the 11:FS findings and ideas to the core of the offering, Grab set about building the app. In December 2019, it announced the launch of its Grab Pay Mastercard that sits at the core of its super app.

The GrabPay Mastercard is a significant step in Grab Financial’s strategic vision. It is the region’s first numberless card with access to an expanded rewards network and seamless Grab payments integration. It allows users, regardless of whether they have a bank account, to transact securely and easily online or offline, at nearly 53m merchants worldwide that accept Mastercard cards.

As an extension of the GrabPay wallet, it is highly secure with card details stored securely within the Grab app. It also has an in-app lock card function that is PIN-protected, allowing users to instantly suspend payments for lost cards.

Where super app’s go from here is only going to get more interesting. With Singapore and Malaysia both announcing their own Virtual Banking licences, the big tech companies from Asia are well placed to help the most underserved and over charged in ways that traditional banks can’t.

We’re proud to have played a major part in those developments through our collaboration with GrabPay on the launch it’s Mastercard.

Looking to build a bank?

If you like what you see and would like to work with us, we’d love to hear from you.