The Granite Tower
Changing Life Through Practical Application Designs
Youn Bo Hyun  |
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승인 2019.10.07  10:53:45
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One idea can change people’s lives. Art is an effective tool that changes the lives of people by making one’s idea come true, and practicality is what designers look for in their art. The College of Art and Design at Korea University (KU) is also trying to teach students about such design and give more opportunities for them to try making their idea come true on their own. At the same time, the college recently had cooperation with Shinhan Bank, developing the advanced application (app) called “Shinhan Plus.”

In August, the College of Art and Design had the honor of winning two international awards—the 2019 IDEA Design Award from United States (U.S.) and the 2019 Red Dot Design Award from Germany. Since 2014, KU has received awards continuously, and the College of Art and Design has gained recognition by their creative ideas. The reason why the department was selected as the winner was because of the application they made— “Shinhan Plus.”

▲ Professor Yoo Seung Hun (School of Art and Design). Provided by Professor Yoo
▲ Team member Yang Seung Hee (Master's Degree Student). Provided by Professor Yoo
This application is created by Professor Yoo Seung Hun (School of Art and Design) and his teammate Yang Seung Hee, who is a master’s degree student in KU. It is a banking application that is a part to the Shinhan Financial Group, which is one of the largest total finance company in South Korea. Professor Yoo received a request from this finance group to develop a new application which aimed to solve the customers’ problems, finally developing the application.

To Integrate All Financial Services in One Hand

As there are four different preliminary service apps in Shinhan Financial Group called Shinhan Bank, Shinhan Credit Card, Shinhan Investment and Shinhan Life, there was a necessity for integration of those scattered apps. Both in the perspective of the company and customers, when using the previous system, those complicated services made people difficult to deal with the financial works and services. For the company, the situation might lose its competitiveness against other banks. Also, for the customers, they had to install more than 20 apps one by one to check all their economic activities, making difficulties because the customers’ self-managing services were separated.

To solve the difficulties, “Shinhan Plus Application” is based on open application program interface (Open API), which means a program that can share data platforms to open web. By opening the information, this could help various service developers and users for innovation in their services and applications. Therefore, four different services of Shinhan Financial Group’s previous banking application—asset curator, bank, card, investment and life— can be approached in one login; which name of the function is Single Sign-in. The advanced application provides the integration of bank services so that the users can check all of their bank activities through one integrated application.

According to an interview with Professor Yoo, when developing the Shinhan Plus Application, designers, finance experts and software development teams were all gathered to implement an intuitive interface to make it visualize complicated finance information easily. Moreover, the team aimed to make customers understand clearly about the service although they firstly use it. After the requirement from the Shinhan Financial Group, two members of Professor Yoo’s team in College of Art and Design finally devised an application, finally getting an award in the international stage.

Detail Look on the Application and Platform Design

Moreover, through one-swipe navigation, the app users do not need to download additional applications and programs to see their assets in four different services unlike the past. To help users to manage all of their scattered assets in one hand, designers of this app put many functions in it including artificial intelligence (A.I.) Finance Curator and Visual Cues. By adapting them in Shinhan Plus interface, the users could get more developed functions to manage their economic states and receive real-time information by simply installing the single app.

Not only functions and contents of the application is advanced, but also the design of this application is differentiated with other applications, having notable features to other banking application designs. As the majority of banking app users are composed of the elders, the designers of this app focused on the point that people whose ages are more than the thirties use the application the most. Therefore, they tried to provide the graphic styles, financial activities and the interests which a wide range of ages prefer.

▲ Shinhan Plus Application. Provided by Korea University
Another notable reason why this application is special is that it considers not just individuals but also companies. For individuals, the application utilized user experience design (UX design). Besides, for companies, the application combined certain business models for corporations, which made this application reflect a fusion style of design. From the planning stage, the application introduced a mixed-use design approach that combines UX designs for users and business models for businesses.

To Provide Convenience through Design

During the development period, there were discussions to coordinate the different opinions of each side—one was KU and designers who focused on users’ perspective, and the other was the financial group who focused on providers’ perspective. Although there were difficulties while making this application, they coordinated different opinions and finally completed the final design. Through the combination of user-centered design knowledge and data from financial companies, the design seems to have been well perceived at the Global Design Awards in the U.S. and Europe.

Professor Yoo said, “I hope the UX design and A.I. service in this application could solve the high barriers for the public to get knowledge about finance and investment in Korea.” As the app provide easier approaches to the users, general citizens may get more knowledge and manage their assets through the advanced application which integrates all the information about their economic states and assets. Through this cooperation with financial group from outside, KU could get renowned for its advanced research state which focused on design for the users. This can also be a starting point for students who participated in this practical research and industrial experience.
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