We wanted to provide a lending option for users, in addition to our flagship business checking product.
Lending is one of Nearside’s key pillars for supporting small businesses. We already have a revolving credit card product, which helps users in the short term. We wanted to offer users the chance to level up their business with a loan they could pay back over a longer term.
Through user interviews, we learned that small business owners typically have to take out high interest loans or borrow from friends & family to make larger improvements for their business. Things like buying supplies, remodeling a brick & mortar, or start a marketing campaign. We wanted to give our users the chance to do those things.
Most of our users were very small businesses. I’m talking one person in most cases, oftentimes still having a day job while their small business was getting off the ground. Most were not very savvy financially, and might have less than desirable credit.
Our primary users were these folks that wanted to take the next step: To finally quit their day job, or to reach the next level in their small business journey. Our goal was to help them do just that.
The journey from letting user know about the new Term Loan through to a user paying off their loan has many steps. I charted the high level steps, mapped those to screens the user would see, then grouped those into phases so we could more easily discuss them internally.
For the first phase of this project, we invited existing checking account customers directly via email. Later we expanded to a larger audience with in-app banners displayed in their checking account dashboard.
Applying for the loan required asking users for additional information, which took many rounds of negotiating between Legal, Fraud, and Compliance departments. We made sure to leverage the information we already had about the user to minimize form filling where possible.
The purpose of these wireframes were to facilitate stakeholder discussions and make sure we have the correct flow before we flesh out individual pages in higher fidelity. Specific content was not a major part of our initial discussions, so I had a little fun with the copy.
Since the designs spanned multiple pages, a progress bar was added to give users a sense of how much was left. The few confirmation pages let the user edit an information that needed updating, including a new final review page to make sure they entered all the correct information before submitting.
Once a user's application is approved, they need to perform a few additional steps to actually accept the loan & get the funds.
Since we notify users about their status in multiple ways, there are multiple entry points once they’re approved. A relatively short linear flow, most of which is signing or confirming information, they exit to their new Term Loan dashboard.
This flow started as being driven primary by Legal and Compliance, essentially needing the user to sign off on a few agreements. As it evolved beyond wireframes, we tried to make sure the focus was more on educating the user about the terms of their loan.
The main focus of this flow ended up being the Loan Terms page. There were some legal requirements for what we displayed here, but we made sure to include more details so the user could see the full picture. We also added tooltip definitions for terms, since many can be ambiguous to anyone who is not a financial expert.
We made the decision to use existing UI components for this flow in an effort to release on time. This resulted in the slightly different page layout from the application flow. Since the vast majority of users would be waiting for an approval in between flows, the impact of the visual disruption was not a problem for the initial release.
The dashboard gives users a place to see and manage their loan details on our platform.
This main Overview page gives them important information at a glance. Information about their balance, next and previous payments, and their account status. This is one of the places where they can elect to pay off their loan early if desired.
Most pages in the dashboard required multiple versions to design for the many states that an account can be in. A few illustrated here include:
Giving users a place to see their previous payments, the status, and track the balance of their loan over time. This is another point in which we try to encourage users to pay off their loan early if possible.
A user can view or download PDF copies of their past statements, the same ones they also receive by standard mail.
Since the loans have a fixed interest rate and fixed term, we can show users their future payments (also known as an amortization table). The table breaks down the details of each payment for transparency on where their money is going.
The documents signed by the user in the Loan Acceptance Flow can be found here, available to view or download in PDF form.
My design work also included the monthly statements users would receive in the mail or download PDF copies of. Much of the challenge here was to satisfy the numerous legal and compliance requirements, while still being easy to read and useful for the user.