The First Design Thinking Bank

The story of a London Design Awards winner

As a perfect way to celebrate the end of 2018, Arival Bank came home as winners yet again. This time at DRIVENxDESIGN London Design Awards 2018 – a prestigious award in the field of product, spaces and ‘digital&experience’ design. Since 2014, the Awards’ constant purpose is to “accelerate transformation, celebrate courage and growing demand for design.” The credit for yet another trophy (last month, Arival won Finovate 2018 in Hong Kong and FintechInn in Lithuania) goes to Vladimir Belyakov, Art Director of Arival Bank.

Vladimir’s prior collaboration with Life.SREDA Venture Capital, who would later create the first digital fintech bank for SMEs, started over three years ago. With an impressive portfolio of corporate identity in his back pocket as he developed the globally recognized Life.SREDA brand and Arival Bank thereafter, one of his best projects by far.

This is the story of Arival Bank from Vladimir’s perspective. A story about creativity, constant search for identity, user experience and true teamwork.

The Long Road

The route to Arival was never easy and fast. The core essence of identity did not appear in a blink of an eye: it has been evolving and transforming, and took many different shapes and sizes over a long time. The name “Arival,” on the contrary, was born spontaneously in one of our group chats.

These transformations required a lot of dedication, time, non-stop brainstorming and discussions both internally (within the team) and externally (gauging public opinion). As a result, it gave us the confidence and power we need, to create the future of digital banking and some of the X factors behind it: design, brand, and identity.

Design has always been an important focus for us – and we were ready to spend a lot of effort and money on it. I believe that it helps us stand out and draw attention to our team’s knowledge and vision of the market.

Designing [fintech] user experience

Fintech in general is not the easiest concept to understand. We often have to deal with the fact that new ideas and trends are hard to explain. A funny thing about fintech: the average person couldn’t tell you what it means, but in reality this industry has its hand on the pulse of disruption in a world that is rapidly changing. Therefore, comprehensive, cool and user-friendly design helps communicate these ideas to people.

I don’t quite agree with the standard term “UX/UI” and its evaluation criteria. It is a unique journey that everybody who creates a product has to pass. The biggest paradox is that you can’t really just transfer your experience and knowledge from one project to another. After all, we are creating an innovative product in a super competitive industry – it just doesn’t work this way. For us, Arival is a new showcase of our education and experience(s), as we are testing new approaches in user interaction with the product.

Right now, Arival Bank is constantly transforming and improving. Looking back several months ago, I can see significant progress in our work on interfaces and logic. What I also understand is that it’s just the beginning. I know that we will always be adapting to the needs of our users. We learn to understand other people both here and now, we feel their “pain” and their day-to-day needs that Arival Bank is aiming to live up to.

It’s all about the team work

We face a lot of difficulties in Arival Bank, but I prefer to talk about the results. In fact, I face complex tasks with excitement. It is extremely satisfying to be able to respond positively to unconventional challenges.

An undeniable key advantage of our team is high productivity and mobility. We always try to respond to requests and challenges by solving problems in a short amount of time. There would have been no Arival Bank without this approach.

We don’t have any strict work culture in Arival, which gives us the freedom in work and art. This approach has no limits, each one of us can suggest an idea for discussion, no matter how crazy it might be. We have been building communication processes step by step for a long time, so we understand the team’s needs really well. When it comes to designing user experience of the entirely new unprecedented level, you don’t actually need a detailed action plan. What you need is a similar outlook on things, and how you are going to make it.

Design thinking

A lot of credit goes to Arival Bank’s CEO, Slava Solodkiy. Slava often acts as a very powerful driving force in the design, highlighting the main reference points that help us align our vision and do our job effectively.

Slava’s innovative view of product design is summarized in his article “Design thinking: why your bank or VC should hire an artist.” Sharing his vision on the subject, Slava quotes a renowned US designer and technologist John Maeda:

“I can see now that the best startups today can no longer compete with technology. They need the creative part. They need the design part. Billions of dollars are being invested in companies that are led by designers, led by artists, alongside technologists. It’s a great time for the arts.”

What’s next

Of course, winning at London Design Awards is one of those pleasant moments that motivate you to move forward. It feels really good to know that professionals of such level noticed your work, and I am very grateful for that.

But apart from that, I see my main goal in winning the recognition of average users. We work for them and I will be happy if our product will be seamless  to use every day.

We have two main tasks ahead of us. Firstly, we need to grow and progress in the development of interface logic. For this, we rely on user feedback from our demo. Secondly, we need to preserve and develop Arival Bank’s style and kick-ass character. Visuals and graphic elements are still evolving and shaping themselves. Like they say, the devil is in the details, and we need to pay more attention to those that will strengthen the project’s core philosophy. We are constantly searching. You can see it in the evolution of Arival Bank’s logo, some of the brand style elements, and colors. Unconventional experiments usually give the most valuable results.

Check out our demo at and tell us what you think!

We welcome and highly appreciate your feedback.   

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to reach out to Vladimir via Facebook, Instagram @paprikabox or email.