Sterling bank Plc

Digitalizing Lending to be Simple and Fast - In Five Minutes

Aimed at innovating and eliminating the complexity in loan processing. Sterling Bank simplified the process of lending “Like Magic” into a five minute process by leveraging on customer insights and data.

8 months
This case study does not reflect the view of the organization. All view are mine and complies with my non-disclosure agreement.

The lending process in Nigeria is risky, tedious filled with hidden rates & fees from banks and loan sharks.

Customers are endangered species to loan sharks; they are ceded and exposed to risk with unrealistic conditions hidden within signed agreements.

Sterling Bank was out to resolve these challenges by offering customers loans, in a simple and ethical experience without flouting any regulatory policies.

Role & Contribution

In this project, I was the sole designer on the team responsible for research, user experience design, and usability testing.

In addition to the design process, I also converted all the designs into frontend (HTML, CSS & JavaScript) assets and handoff to the engineering team for conversion to C# and API integration.

I also developed the product website which is active till date.


A squad of five cross-functional teams and I was setup to challenge the industry and innovate using financial footprint data to build the first digital lending solution without flouting any financial policy. The Squad I worked with consisted of;

1. A Retail Expert
2. A Financial analyst
3. 2 Backend Engineers.

Design methods

This project was approached using Lean UX approach because there was no competitor in the industry and it was a new innovate way to access loans. I adopted a few methods as we learned everyday.

Here are the methods I applied;

  • Guerilla Research
  • User Flow & Wireframing
  • Heuristic Evaluations
  • Usability Testing

problems & INsights

Tedious Paperwork

No clear or defined paperwork extends application time and approvals. Generally, researched show that customers normally assumed they can not be qualify for a loan due to complete documentation.

Likewise, processing time is undefined because review period depends on levels of paper checks and approvals.

Rich Guarantors

Borrowers need guarantors 5x richer than the amount applied as backup to their obligation. To get a process started borrower must meet this requirement or their application be disqualified.

This requirement automatically becomes a gatekeeper to 67% individuals or small business in need of funds from their banks.

Denial Effect

Unapproved loans are perceived as denied loans to customers without clear reasons. Despite complete documentation, 78% of loan applications are turned down without proper communication to customers.

Thus, customers share their positive and negative experiences. And as such perceived negative experience is widely shared as denial effect with affect other customers, as result it becomes a generally acceptance challenge.

the opportunity

How might we automate lending in 5 minutes reducing risk and without flouting any financial policies?

the solution

The solution underwent several iterations and releases from customer experience and feedback.

The experience and feedback were outstanding. Some customers were astonished on the innovative process.

The product grew organically, improved Sterling Bank financial bottomline and customer base.

Specta has disbursed N100 Billion ($263 Million) in Loans within 3 years, according to the news source from the organization.

Source: Vanguard Newspaper

Specta grew within 6 months with impressive number;


increase in new loan applications


increase in gross financial revenue


increase in customer acquisition