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Digital Financial Origination

Over the 81 years, ATB Financial has always been putting customers first as their core value, offering the best financial advice and services to Albertan needs. Shifting away from traditional banking, ATB sees the opportunity in investing online tools to better improve banking experience for their customers. Recently, we are fortunate to join the ATB Financial team, giving full support to strengthen their digital experience for customers. 


Grow technologies is a Vancouver Fintech startup that focuses on delivering self-serve and omni-channel banking experiences, solutions including retail and business account opening and lending.


ATB Financial


Product designer

With limited resources as a startup, the product was originally built by the collaboration between skilled front end developers and product managers, leveraging the feedback given by multiple financial institutions we previously worked with. When I joined Grow as the first Product designer, my task was more than just focusing on designing better user experience of the current existing products. It was also bringing the value of inserting design into the current development process that was originally only run by product managers and developers - to encourage "design precede programming".

By working closely with the product managers, I had the opportunity to introduce design methods such as the Design Sprint, to help brainstorming for ideas in the early product discovery phase. The product team was able to gradually see the value of user research and the importance of understanding our client's needs which help to drive roadmap prioritization.

Reviewing current design

Before I jumped into refinement, the first task I began was to conduct a usability and design audit on the existing product. Through this, I was able to learn about the user flows and pinpoint the gaps through my fresh perspectives. I also gathered earlier designs and user tracking results from the old platform to incorporate and elaborate on some of the experience that we offered. 


Annotation on usability problems in current workflows

Knowing the language

One of the challenge is getting familiar with the technical language usage within the financial domain. It is important to understand the meaning behind these terms and processes in order to tackle specific design problems.  For example, underwriting is a credit analysis that is being used to evaluate whether the user is eligible to getting a loan. This process requires taking the information, such as credit report, employment history, and financial statement, then run by backend to determine the loan qualification outcome. Without understanding the holistic view and language, it would be difficult to tackle specific related problems.

Following the Methods to verify the identity of an individual and confirm the existence of a corporation or an entity other than a corporation regulation published by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), it is mandatory for users to upload multiple documents for identification purposes in order to pass the application process, such as their government-issued ID, credit files and other supplementary documents. While acknowledging that it may increase frustration for users to go through many steps, we want to minimize user effort to achieve the goal. 


In addition, with the technology shift within the financial services regulatory landscape, where manual compliance is being reduced, it is critical in making sure data collection and privacy is taken well into consideration. And that we are creating a safe space for users to feel comfortable in providing their personal identifiable information.

"How might we simplify the way we collect information from our users?"

"How might we ensure user security and safety when going through the application?"

Identity verification

One of the ways to simply process is being able to leverage the information users provided. After the users upload a government ID, the information that we collected such as Name, Date of birth, Gender, and Address would be populated on the personal information page (next step of the application). This enables a smoother transition when proceeding to the next step by limiting the action of inputting redundant information.



1. When user uploads a photo of their ID, we verify the images through optical character scanning (OCR) and google vision to ensure the user is providing the valid documentation format. This also helps making sure the information on both front and back of ID are matching.

2. By providing verification guideline, it increases the chance of accepting photo without having users to re-upload multiple attempts.


3. After user completes the identity verification step, the information that has been verified from the ID will then populates on the personal information page. This helps user to get through the application quicker without overwhelming them with more inputs.

Credit file information 

One of the pain points when it comes to requesting credit file information from users is the lack of knowledge in banking services and financial health. With the complexity of credit file submission guidelines, users tend to be uncertain with the documents they need to provide, causing a lot of back and forth process between the client care team and customers.


To solve this problem, we introduced Finsnap, a simplified way to aggregate financial accounts history without having users provide documents such as void cheque or pay stub, where users can select and sign in to their financial institution through our platform on the spot without taking or having any access to their banking information.


1. The institution selection option is determined based on our user tracking results of the most frequent chosen banks.

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2. Once users have chosen their institutions, they can log in with their bank credentials, 

3. From user feedback, we recognize that some users may not feel comfortable in providing their account information. With this in mind, we decide to keep the option of uploading documents manually. 

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Predictable requirement and steps

When it comes to submitting personally identifiable information for an application, it is important to set user expectations throughout the process. Having full visibility of status brings better communication and transparency to users, so they have better control when going through the application. If users are not aware of what they sign up for, it would be likely for them to feel unsafe to submit their information.

For example, having a progress bar helps to indicate the time, tasks and required information that the users need to fulfill. This gives users the control to decide whether they want to stop or proceed with the application.


1. Checklist - Quick glance on overall completed steps

2. Terminology - Avoid Acronym, keeping grammar consistent

3. Color - visual cue to differentiate completed and incomplete steps

4. Infotips - provide supporting information 

Indicate and notify important information without distracting users

One of the considerations in mind when it comes to applying indicators is the level of discoverability that is measured by the urgency of the message. With a lot of information already being displayed on screen, the indicator has to be passive yet obvious enough to not distract users’ attention. The placement, sizes, color and language used of the indicator were thought through together in order to effectively inform the information to users.


1. Passive - communicate to user for something to note

2. Contextual - relate to particular event
3. Triggered by system event 

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