Baobab Group

Designing the micro-loan borrower’s account opening experience

Paris/Dakar/Lorient, 2015 - 2018


Enable Baobab to be closer to their customers and open accounts anywhere by collecting the required KYC information, such as proof of identity, outside of the branch.

  • Lead UX, Product Manager

  • Deliverables: Flow & wireframes for onboarding process, recruitment of freelance UI designer, user stories, user tests, insights & recommendations.


A native tablet application with clear steps and visual instructions.

Over 85 000 accounts for individual and group loans have been opened in Senegal.


Alleviate the administrative task of identity verification

Like banks, MFI's (microfinance institutions) need to verify the identity of a new customers before they can hand out a loan. Baobab does this by copying someone's ID card or passport, verifying their mobile phone number via an OTP (one-time passcode), and taking a portrait photo to recognize a customer. In addition to these basic identity verification details, Baobab uses biometrics to perform "cico" (cash in/cash out) transactions at agents, demanding a new customer's fingerprint scan.

Baobab wanted a way to do all of this "in the field", without asking prospects to visit or travel to a Baobab branch. Having people onboard themselves 100% online would be ideal, but considering the target users we knew that would be a stretch. We were curious to learn to what extent people could be autonomous, and how we could create a solution that would be easy to use by external agents in the case of outsourced onboarding.


1. Screen flow and wireframes

I suggested to create an interface with visual instructions, which would allow people who can't read (well) to see what's going on. We decided on a native tablet app for a screen large enough to deliver a shared experience in the case that someone would be assisted. I created a storyboard with main steps, addressing questions such as "Should the process be linear, or could users complete sections in a random order?" or "what happens if someone doesn't complete the process on one go?"

2. UI Design and photo shoot

I recruited and briefed a freelance UI designer/digital art director for the visual design. We went through a couple of design iterations and landed on a nicely structured, clean screen lay-out.

Then I wrote a brief for Baobab's communications agency in Dakar (Caractère) for the photo shoot. Casting the right model was a collaborative exercise and involved getting feedback from employees in multiple African countries. I learned about the importance of wax fabric, as the agency convinced me that ordering the right wax was worth running a couple of days behind on production schedule.

Summarized storyboard showing a selection of screens, note the personalized progress bar.

3. User tests with physical prototypes

Rest of the story coming soon!