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Seamless Sign-Up and Onboarding: 8 Best Practices for Successful Fintech Companies

Subharun Mukherjee 18+ years of experience leading product strategy, Go-To-Market (GTM), new market entry, value-based sales, analyst relations, and customer experience programs. Expertise in Financial Services, eCommerce, on-demand services, and the SaaS industry.
Seamless Sign-Up and Onboarding: 8 Best Practices for Successful Fintech Companies

The first few minutes of using a new app are always critical. Will the user take to it enough to keep using it? If not, you can expect the app to be used once and then completely forgotten. Usability should be front of mind for fintech companies looking to capture the digital finance market. If they don’t provide a seamless sign-up and onboarding experience, they risk losing customers right from the start.
Fintech’s popularity stems from the surge in need for remote banking systems. While tools such as ATMs and online banking were already mainstream for decades, demand spiked thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Many people worked from home and made purchases and other necessities online. Digital merchants were part of the glue holding the economy together, handling everything from payment processing to electronic trading.
But even as the pandemic waned, there hasn’t been any sudden pivot back to manual-first processes. The digital finance revolution is here to stay.

The Competition is Brutal—You Have to Stand Out

The extraordinary width and breadth of services available has led to an abundance of fintech companies—everyone wants a piece of the pie. The market glut is understandable once you understand what’s at stake, though.
With so many options out there for consumers, fintech companies have to set themselves apart from the competition to catch—and retain—the customer’s awareness. One area which separates the winners from the losers is the onboarding process. You have to get people into your app if you want them to use your services, after all. If a company can get over this hurdle, they’re likely to make it at least to the next round of financing.
According to our Fintech App Engagement Benchmark Report 2022, just over a fifth (21%) of users register within a week of installing an app — which leaves a lot of room for improvement. Couple this with the residual effects of the pandemic: as customers shifted en masse to digital transactions, they discovered just how many options there were. They learned which apps were a breeze and which were a needless pain.
Considering how adept users have become with using fintech apps, it’s imperative that you design one that works for customers. The earlier Signicat survey also reported that 68% of users said they prefer moving to a totally online onboarding process. But that onboarding process has to be easy and intuitive to hold their attention

What Exactly Does Fintech Onboarding Entail?

Effective fintech onboarding is all about helping users learn about a product or a service. A successful onboarding requires more than just an overview of the features and functions—you should also offer a basic walkthrough of all navigation tools and step users through processes. In many cases, first-time users can also benefit from personalized assistance, which eases the learning and familiarization process.
Thorough onboarding can spell the difference between simply having a great product and having a great product that customers actually use. Many fintech companies make the mistake of focusing too much on pushing people to try the products instead of developing quality onboarding. In their haste to generate prospects, convert leads, and attract customers, they often forget to provide assistance to first-time users so that they can have a great customer experience from the start that can then be built upon.
Onboarding also serves as a funnel, turning first-timers into loyal customers. By helping novice users quickly master a fintech app or site, they reinforce the idea that the technology is easy to use. And if users can successfully get what they want from your app painlessly, their need to explore other options disappears.

8 Best Practices for Sign-Up and Onboarding in Fintech

Implementing a thorough signup and onboarding process helps prevent customer churn; therefore, it’s absolutely critical to get it right. An efficient onboarding process usually includes a clean interface and an easy-to-understand tutorial. It also includes an intuitive help system that provides assistance when needed and stays in the background when not.
What best practices should you follow to design the best onboarding process possible for your fintech app?

1. Establish Trust Right Away

Earning the trust of end users goes a long way toward preventing churn. This starts from the very first interaction—onboarding plays a key role in helping secure user confidence.
There are a number of great touch points in the onboarding process you can use to bolster user trust. For example, consider the customer identification and verification period. You can boost user confidence in your platform as a trustworthy, considerate tool by only asking them to submit the minimum information necessary at any given time.
More importantly, fintech apps should promote transparency in order to bolster trust. During onboarding, stock trading apps and crypto exchanges should carry a disclaimer about the nature of online trading. While earning money is everybody’s goal, there will always be risks involved. This can help temper expectations in the longer term.
A third way: educate them about your industry or your technology.  One of our customers, BharatPe, is a fintech app that enables merchants to accept payments from their clients through a QR code. For them, the most effective way to onboard new merchants onto the app is to educate them. By improving the user onboarding experience and educating their merchants about the app and the payments industry, BharatPe increased weekly registration by 22%.

BharatPe website screenshot

A screenshot of the BharatPe website. Read about their strategies for retention here.

2. Reduce Product Value Friction

Fintech apps are popular because they expedite traditional services. An automated app on your smartphone is far more convenient than a morning lined up in a bank, conversing with your stockbroker, or even arguing with your crypto trader.
Another fintech customer, Sumer, makes it easy for SMBs in Latin America to sell online. Their main product — a simple ecommerce storefront — can be built in 15 seconds on their super app by uploading photos, product descriptions, and accompanying details.
Of course, simply having an account in a fintech app is not a guarantee of frictionless transactions. Users constantly are looking for which app can streamline processes the most—so they can get back to living their lives. Ideally, it’s your app!
But that starts with a great onboarding process, which is a precursor to any great user experience. This entails more than designing a refreshing interface and a simple tutorial. Remember, fintech is heavy on compliance; as such, your app will require a lot more user data than others. Showing how you take care of that data can come a long way in establishing a good relationship with users. Auto-logouts, two-step verifications, and other enhanced security can help.

3. Simplify the KYC Process

Regulatory compliance takes precedence over any UX concerns. Like traditional financial institutions, fintech companies remain swamped with continually-increasing demands to comply with stringent regulatory guidelines. There’s no room to cut corners with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements* in order to have a faster signup process; instead, UX/UI designers should focus on developing straightforward processes that reduce additional or unnecessary friction.
One good starting point is minimizing information requests to only what’s absolutely necessary—and only when needed. In addition, a clear, no-nonsense guide on why the application requires this information can help with transparency.
You can also speed up and improve compliance by automatically flagging missing documentation before accepting the application. This helps prevent repeated incomplete submissions.
Also, consider tapping into new verification technology to speed up compliance processes. Currently, many apps requiring ID verification usually ask users to upload photos of themselves holding up their IDs. This process makes verification simpler and faster.

4. Streamline and Automate Where Possible

One of our fintech customers, Guru Investimentos, requires a new user to complete 60 data fields to open a day-trading account. But they made things easier by implementing a personalized reminder in case a new user drops off. The app simply sends them a reminder that the signup process is unfinished, and a deep link brings the user back to the exact place in the form that they stopped at.
The speed with which fintech apps load or process transactions won’t matter if the onboarding process itself is too slow or cumbersome. Many of these products cater to busy company executives who neither have the time nor the patience for unnecessarily complex verification processes.
Luckily, the rapid pace of automation these days means that there’s a range of ways you can streamline the process. Let’s consider some touch points that could benefit from automation:

  • Welcome Communications: Customers don’t have time to waste waiting for a hand-typed email. Automate your onboarding communications with a ready-to-go crisp summary of the process.
  • Self-Service Options: Apart from personalized tutorials, users will also appreciate on-demand self-service options. For example, you can automate your help system to pop up whenever a user seems stuck in a loop and unable to proceed with a task. Or perhaps your help system automatically launches a FAQ library before opening a ticket or connecting to customer service—once activated, this help system might also autocomplete common tasks.
A screenshot of the Guru Investimentos website.

A screenshot of the Guru Investimentos website. Read about how they simplified their 60-field signup form here.

5. Give New Users Basic Features Without Signing Up

Many would-be users often disengage when companies require them to sign up soon as they open the app for the first time. This often goes against the try-before-you-buy thinking most users adhere to. Why would they sign up when they have no idea if this app actually works for them?
Instead, why not try the gradual engagement approach? Also known as lazy registration, this allows users free access to the app despite their unregistered status. They can test the app’s value relative to their needs which gives them the freedom to decide after a few tries.
For fintech in particular, trials can also establish if the app has the features or integrations that users need. For example, a payment app isn’t worth it if it doesn’t accept currencies the user wants to transact in; a crypto exchange app can’t help much if it’s not legally allowed for use in the user’s home country.
For successful trial apps, however, they shouldn’t give away too much. Unlocking the best features should mean that users take a bigger commitment and sign up as registered users. Once they reach the trial limit, they should either continue by signing up or simply abandon the software.

6. Make Sure It’s Optimized For Mobile

Mobile devices now account for 59% of the world’s internet use*. That means that less than half of all internet users still rely their desktops first and foremost. But despite this trend, many fintech companies default to desktop layouts first—and often don’t even have a mobile version prepared. Fintech apps should take the cue and optimize their app interface for mobile phones from the start, rather than as an afterthought.

Screenshots of the Zelle app onboarding

Zelle’s welcome screens are optimized for mobile, showing clear calls-to-action coupled with creative photos that communicate the value of the app.

7. Design an Omnichannel Experience

Your customers juggle their day across multiple different platforms; your app should be able to follow them throughout. Omnichannel experiences are the norm now—expect customer/brand conversations to shift from email to chat, social media, or the online store. Omnichannel planning keeps the customer’s information front and center for the service representative across all these channels, the whole time. Onboarding should also take advantage of omnichannel strategies in order to keep connected to users across channels.
Financial transactions that go awry are some of the most exasperating experiences for many online users, especially those dealing with large sums. Having access to customer service in various channels can help you assist users better.

8. Personalize the User’s Journey & Segments

Not everyone uses a fintech app for the same reason, and users approach these services with different experience levels. At the same time, different users will have different experience levels and enter at different points of the sales journey. This is why providing a singular onboarding experience just doesn’t work when you’re dealing with a wide spectrum of users. This diversity demands a diverse approach to onboarding, with a range of starting points to meet individual needs.
For fintech companies, personalizing the user’s journey means providing highly-tailored solutions that perfectly fit each customer’s financial as well as social profile. Hyper personalization features allow apps to cater to specific market segments as well as underserved customers.
What’s more, personalization can form part of the tutorial for novice users. Upon launch, the app can offer new users a guided approach to their first few transactions. Once they’re comfortable with the operations, the app can then let them venture on their own. For users who are also new to the world of fintech, onboarding can also double as an information center for technical terms and processes.
Personalization also applies to setting up notifications and automated tasks. Let users specify which alerts they prefer to receive—and disable alerts for extraneous activities.
ICICI Bank is a multinational financial services company based in India that creates targeted marketing campaigns using a customer’s propensity to engage. By analyzing funnels, automated, personalized drop-off campaigns are created to inform users about eligible offers — offers which match a user’s preferences (including vernacular) and interest in services and products.

A screenshot of the ICICI Bank app landing page.

A screenshot of the ICICI Bank app landing page.

How to Tell If Your Fintech Onboarding Works

It takes effort and planning to make a fintech app’s signup and onboarding process engaging. And really, the only way to tell if it works is to check the analytics:

Check Your Onboarding Benchmarks

According to our latest Fintech Benchmark Report, fintech apps typically convert 21% of new users within a week of installation. This includes 15% of new users signing up within 75 seconds.
Additionally, our customers report that 95% of their new users turn into paying customers within a month of signing up. Among these new users, 76% converted within a week.
If your fintech app isn’t getting anywhere close to these numbers, the there’s a lot of work to be done.

Monitor Continued Engagement

Are your app notifications engaging your users? Which channels give you the most engagement?

  • On push notifications, fintech apps generate an average click-through rate (CTR) of 6% for iOS users and 9% for Android users. (Given that iOS products have data collection permissions disabled by default, 6% remains an impressive feat!)
  • In-app notifications registered an impressive 24% click-through rate.
  • Email average open rates were measured at 34%.

Track Loyalty and Retention

Of course, the real test—apart from conversion rates—is the increase in each customer’s lifetime value. Users who convert during the first week go on to average repeat transaction rates of 15%.
In addition, fintech apps typically generate a session frequency rate of 11 app launches per user—a very high number compared to other verticals.

Get The Complete Set of Fintech App Benchmarks

Our Fintech App Engagement Benchmark Report 2022 has the complete set of benchmark stats that you can use to see where your app stands.
And look for additional upcoming blogs where we break down some of the metrics and provide additional insight into what they mean for your business and the tactics that you can employ to improve your performance.
Get the 2022 Fintech App Benchmark Report here.

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Last updated on March 29, 2024