Streamlining and simplifying alternative assets for the masses.
Research, UI/UX, Design System
Simplified investing for alternative assets
Hard Assets Alliance (HAA), an online brokerage dealing in physical gold, has a long history in the realm of alternative assets. Drawing from their experience, they forged GBix – a revolutionary platform transforming the way we invest in assets like real estate, art, wine, and cryptocurrency. The team’s proficiency in online gold trading and storage enabled them to construct a “Robinhood app” of asset classes, opening doors to these exclusive domains previously reserved for the affluent.
GBix streamlines alternative investments, making them accessible to all – irrespective of their financial capacity. By broadening investment horizons, the platform offers the potential for profitable returns to the everyday investor.
Understanding our users’ needs
Through user interviews, stakeholder meetings, and market research, we identified two groups of users. One group, closely affiliated with the HAA gold trading platform, preferred conservative investments and were skeptical of new investment opportunities such as cryptocurrency, art, and wine.
Though hesitant to explore new opportunities, this group held substantial wealth, making their conversion from HAA to GBix pivotal. We had to appeal to their conservative inclinations while also offering innovative investment opportunities to grow their portfolios.The second user group was bolder, opting for diversified investments across platforms like Robinhood. They were more open to new opportunities but required guidance to understand unconventional investments like funds and fractional assets.
All of this meant that we needed to find the line between educational and hand-holding while avoiding coming across as patronizing or unprofessional.
Designing a flexible and scalable platform
Our clients were finance experts, but our users were everyday people. Our challenge entering ideation and low-fidelity was to simplify complex investment vehicles into accessible, layman-friendly layouts to connect with the average consumer intimidated by these assets.
Identifying commonalities across assets was challenging. Our design aimed to make the interface easy to use and scannable. It required a layout that enabled quick comparison and assessment of key features for each asset class. Additionally, we created an information architecture and logic map to organize future investments efficiently.
By creating a streamlined design that emphasized ease of use, we were able to reach a wider audience and empower investors to make informed decisions.
A unique buying process
Our platform straddled the line between traditional online brokerages and modern fintech apps, creating a unique challenge for purchasing large investments such as closed-funds that typically require minimum buy-ins of $100,000 or more.
We wanted to make sure that if a user had the money outside of their account, we wouldn’t prevent them from making a large investment. For instance, if they wanted to invest $125,000 but only had $100,000 in their account, we needed to ensure that they could fulfill this investment on the spot without requiring a wire transfer or becoming frustrated and abandoning the process entirely.
However, we also needed to incentivize users to deposit larger amounts of money. If they had $100,000 in their account but the investment was $120,000, we didn’t want them to have to wire the entire amount. Encouraging users to only make deposits when they were making purchases would not be good for business, as we wanted users to have more “poker chips” in the casino, so to speak. This way, they were more likely to use the money.
To solve this, we came up with an “Account + one other method” checkout system. This way, users could use their balance and another payment method to complete an investment order. This approach encouraged deposits and enabled users to make investments immediately, without having to wait for a deposit to clear.
Finding the information display sweet-spot
Another core challenge was determining how to best display complicated investment types like closed-end funds. These investment vehicles were often unique, loaded with financial jargon and had various points a user would need to analyze to come to an informed decision.
To optimize our information display, we conducted unmoderated usability tests on competitors’ websites. By asking open-ended questions like “find an investment you’re interested in and tell us about it,” we gleaned insights on the information users sought at a high-level. We mapped out their research process, which consisted of scanning for interest, obtaining a high-level overview, conducting in-depth research, and finally making the investment.
In order to make it visually scannable and easy to compare investments, We created a standard template for investment analysis that offers both detailed research paths for experts and quick visual overviews for easy comparison. This helps users make informed decisions faster and without reading through numerous prospectus summaries.
Handing off designs
As GBix was still in the innovation phase, we needed to develop a design system with comprehensive documentation to ensure any developer could understand the components, interactions, and functionality without external assistance.
After finalizing the design system, we provided their team with a thorough set of components and examples to document and explain the workings. We collaborated with both our developers and their developers to ensure the designs were easy to understand and effectively demonstrated edge cases.
GBix is currently undergoing a phased launch, beginning with cryptocurrency and then expanding into unique fractional assets. However, before the launch can take place, they’re diligently working through the legal, marketing, and partnership requirements necessary for a successful launch.
Through strategic planning and effort, GBix has secured several significant partnerships with reputable cryptocurrency brokerages, solidifying their position in the market. The full experience is planned to launch in Q1 2024, showcasing GBix’s innovative approach to asset trading.