Trusted Lending Circles

A peer-to-peer lending application based on the Ethereum blockchain.

Company: WeTrust | Role: UX & Product Design

Background

WeTrust’s founding mission was to increase financial inclusion of the underbanked with a ROSCA (traditional peer to peer lending tool) powered by the Ethereum blockchain.

From the outset, we knew we had some fundamental technical roadblocks to overcome before our vision can be realized.

These include:
  1. A stable coin
  2. Accessible on-off ramp to fiat, or meaningful way to spend ETH in real life
  3. Mobile access to the ETH blockchain

With these limitations in mind, we knew we could not create a dApp that can reach our target audience of the unbanked and the underbank at first. Instead, we aimed to make a showcase dApp to show how decentralized ROSCAs can work.

Project Goal

Create a showcase, consumer facing, peer to peer lending product on the Ethereum blockchain that may not have a meaningful user base in the immediate future.

Process

PHASE 1
Identify our target user base
PHASE 2
Create blockchain based prototyping methodology
PHASE 3
Iterate UX with prototype testing
PHASE 4
Launch on testnet and validate
PHASE 5
Launch on Mainnet

PHASE 1: Identify target user base

The biggest challenge right from the start of this project, was that our intended users of this dApp (the underbanked and financially excluded folks in second and third world countries), have very little access to the technology needed to participate in a decentralized blockchain app.

Before I started any design, I spent some time talking with various NPOs and financial inclusion researchers to identify possible communities we could work with and explore ways we might simulate or "consierge" the experience. Unfortunately, we deemed this was not yet feasible.

To move the project forward, we decided as a team to focus primarily on users with enough technical savvy to own some cryptocurrency, but not advanced enough to know how to sign transactions on deceltralized applications. Working with these users, we felt we can us learn valuable product insights on how to build a blockchain based peer to peer lending and savings platform so we can get closer to reaching our goal of expanding global financial inclusion.

PHASE 2: Blockchain based prototyping strategy

One of the most interesting challenges in this project is how little of the UX outside of the app itself we can take for granted. With a blockchain based app, we knew a big part of the design challenge is exploring how users learn and adapt and develop new mental models of interaction.

Before we can even attempt to validate any of our design ideas in the dApp, we need a proper mock prototype environment that can properly simulate all the particularities of Ethereum based interfaces.

These challenges include:

  • Signing transactions
  • Understanding long confirmation times
  • Paying gas
  • ERC20 based transactions

After some experiements with Invision vs Flinto vs Axure, we decided to go with Axure as it gave us the most programatically interactive prototypes.

The key was to implement a mock browser so we can simulate all the blockchain UX that extends beyond the browser, including browser extensions like MetaMask, allowing us to quickly validate and test the trickiest part of ETH dApps.


Initial mock blockchain https://vw1qu0.axshare.com

With the testing framework in hand, target users defined, we were ready to start testing, and iterating on ideas.

PHASE 3: Iterate UX with prototype testing

WIth our prototyping methodology in place, and target users set, we began testing and experimenting to find all the UX issues in this blockchain app.