Retail bank cuts onboarding time by 50% with redesigned mobile journey

Zühlke's cross-functional development teams helped bring a mobile banking app ahead of the ‘challenger bank’ competition.

  • ‘Progressive Onboarding’ model shaves up to 16 minutes off in-app sign-up times

  • Overhauled UX entirely digitises the account set-up process

  • 39% reduction in mandatory steps keeps prospective customers engaged

Rebuilding customer onboarding in banking

Our client is a UK-based retail bank with over 1.4 million customers and a reputation for being both innovative and implicitly human.

But in a market flush with ‘neo’ banking startups, the company found itself facing a challenge: competition from the likes of Monzo and Starling, which offer digital-only, mobile-first account opening and onboarding flows that were faster than the rest of the traditional banking pack.

For the team at Zühlke, the opportunity was clear: rebuild the client’s mobile offering to enable a rock-solid account opening process that’s fluid, handled entirely in-app, and designed with tomorrow’s banking customer firmly in mind.

The challenge? To make all of this possible for the end user in just 10 minutes, while adhering to every regulatory measure the banking industry has to overcome.

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Stripping back and streamlining digital account opening

‘We always want to build the best solution for any given problem’, says Zühlke UK Principal Business Consultant, Rasha Hamdan.

‘We don't just think about what the best way to do something is from an engineering or delivery perspective; we also try to understand the entire journey. We want to find the sweet spot between having something that's great for the user while also being sustainable, technically efficient, and delivering real business value’.

To that end, our work on this project began by fully auditing the existing technology and processes. The client already had a technical platform in place for its banking app, so our role wasn’t to reinvent the wheel, but instead to learn what could be improved within that framework.

Zühlke’s Head of Financial Services, Maurice Roach, explains how this auditing happened from both a technical and a customer-centric point of view at the same time:

‘The process was one of walking through the retail bank’s existing workflow to really understand – and pick apart – what they wanted to offer. That meant identifying wins in terms of how we could slice delivery, and where we could improve the whole system.

‘Understanding the problem, scoping the environment, scoping the request and what the need from both the client and the customers were’, says Maurice, ‘is how we were then able to reshape things and produce an Alpha build. That was effectively a skeleton showing the bare minimum needed for the onboarding journey, to prove that this was actually going to work’.

Crucially, this involved stripping the customer onboarding process back to its bare bones without skipping over the all-important legal nuts and bolts:

‘Because banking is a highly regulated environment’, Maurice says, ‘it reduces your ability to release software in stages, as you might do in another sort of digital product company. There’s an end-to-end need here that meant it was impossible to ship parts of this update until the whole thing was done’.

woman looking at a mobile banking app

Stable engineering, built for the long term

The newly updated mobile banking app is able to take customers from their phone’s app store to opening a new account in just 10 minutes – while still ticking off all the relevant checks and legal requirements.

Through careful auditing, the team at Zühlke was able to reduce the number of steps and questions by 39% and bring everything in-app, removing the need for any phone or SMS-based ID verification.

What may seem to the end user like a simple redesign was, in truth, no small task – and one that could only have been achieved through an environment of close collaborative working, as Maurice explains:

‘We were deeply entrenched with our client’s product and compliance folks, but that's only possible when you start talking early on and frequently about what they actually need and how we can make things better for customers.

‘It's about seeing how consumers are engaging with the app first-hand', he explains, ‘and having technology and product working hand in hand together. That’s the way things should always happen, but sometimes it’s a tough challenge in large organisations’.

Importantly, this project took on a modular approach, where functionality can easily be added, removed, or even duplicated and adopted by other bodies within the client’s group.

‘For us, this is all about how you build really stable engineering for the long term’, Maurice explains. ‘So that’s not just how you build within a regulated environment, but also how you ensure that quality, stability, and agility are baked right in.

‘That's part and parcel of what we do’.

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Team working on banking onboarding project
Contact person for United Kingdom

Myles Davidson

Head of Sales Excellence UK & Partner

Myles Davidson is an experienced leader for the digital transformation of companies and product innovation. Significant experience in driving business initiatives on a local and international level in a complex and rapidly changing environment. Myles is known as trusted advisor for clients at C- and board-level for strategic questions around business innovation and technology.

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