I am a baby entrepreneur. I’ve always harbored aspirations of building my own product, something that really brings joy to people, but until recently they’ve remained aspirations. A few weeks ago I decided to put myself on the line and publicly committed to building something. You can see my declaration here. This article is about some of the difficulties I’ve faced trying to build a smart bot FinTech product and how the bot software Botsociety has helped me to work through them.
In the beginning…
Firstly, a primer on FinTech. Banks run on a myriad of systems and very old technology. Until recently they were protected by very high barriers to market entry, both regulatory and capital.
In other words, there were few competitors because getting into the game was so tough.
With the explosion of more accessible and cheaper technology this century, entrepreneurs gradually started to compete with banks in small areas of their offering, be it insurance, payments, or investments. This trickle has become a torrent in the past three to four years.
This is the emerging field of FinTech.
So what’s my contribution to the field of FinTech? I want to build the world’s first savings account for travel at Moneycado. My vision is to operate a specialized savings account via Messenger Bot which makes saving for a holiday unbelievably simple and engaging. Savings accounts are dry and do not speak to the specific aspirations of savers, a norm I intend to change.
Of course, even with cheap, accessible technology, there are significant regulatory hurdles to offering this kind of product. To accept even a cent of customer money I must run a gauntlet of security, accessibility and compliance requirements. These will require a significant investment of time and cost.
Cracking the Fintech code
Before committing fully to building a product like this, I need to understand whether people will use it. There are lots of features here — operating an account by Messenger, unlocking rewards for saving — which are not common. Consequently, I need to get honest feedback from potential customers as to whether they would use the product. I cannot simply ask, the first tenant of lean methodology is that feedback must be validated.
Making the best use of chatbot software
One of the first assumptions I’ve been testing is whether potential users are comfortable sharing their bank details with a bot. I initially mocked-up a conversation with Botsociety in which a user shared their details after only a couple of questions to establish credibility (i.e. ‘Where is my money going?’). Showing this to users, I got very clear feedback that I would need to spend more time establishing credibility, an easy adjustment when working with mockups.
Using Bot software to validate assumptions
Another assumption I’ve validated with mock-ups is whether travel companies would be interested in partnering to offer rewards to users. Rather than simply sending a dry email, I can quickly mock-up a ‘reward unlock’ conversation in which a potential partner’s product is revealed to a user, like this one. I’ve already advanced discussions with two companies so far using this approach. It’s a nice way to make a proposal more personal and illustrate the potential of a conversational interface.
I am planning on using Botsociety throughout the development of my product. It allows me to show my product vision in a compelling and visually professional manner, and most importantly helps me to run lean in even the burdensome world of FinTech!