How I Lost Money from Confusing UX

Mika Aldaba
3 min readFeb 26


Every now and then, as a UX designer, I will have a bad online experience that pushes me to write, reflect, be vulnerable and learn from it. Here was one such incident with my current bank.

I had just been to the Philippines for a month last December and spent some amount of money using a Philippine card attached to my father’s account to avoid exchange fees.

Then when I wanted to pay off the balance, I went online to my netbank and tried to send a payment to my father. I have used this form multiple times without any issues:

No names required for this money transfer form

The problem was that I only used it within the EU.

I did not realize that sending abroad was stricter and more requirements.

This is the other form:

This time it has the name and address as extra fields. No additional info is given.

I filled it out without thinking so hard because I assumed it would work like the other form I was used to. You usually just put in the name under the reference, like commentary for your transaction history.

My dad never received the money and a week later he said that our bank apparently cancelled the transaction because of a trivial error that I had put in my father’s nickname instead of his full name. Probably due to money laundering or some other compliance reason.

Over a month later, the money was traced and it landed back in my account short by 500 kr. I had been warned that I would be charged but a smaller amount was mentioned.

The experience had been so frustrating that I have lost trust with my bank. It’s not the amount of money, which is trivial for some people (and a lot if you are from the Philippines). But it’s the lack of transparency and lack of care and support while the case was handled that are the main reasons for my frustration.

My design brain immediately started thinking of how to fix this problem. This could all be avoided with a few minor tweaks:

  • Javascript checker, with red text appearing below the name box
  • a confirmation dialog box to double check name, account details if sending outside the EU

It would be insidious of the bank to do this intentionally. To keep it like this so they can keep collecting these fees. I’m inclined to think that they just want to keep it as simple as possible. To be honest, I have been impressed with the UX of my bank’s web and mobile apps so far. Customer service felt slow and lacking on the other hand with this particular issue. I was told the wrong information at multiple touchpoints which led to frustration.

The stupid user problem

When I told my dad about this, he just scolded me for not remembering that the rules were stricter about transferring funds to another country. But what if the obvious isn’t so obvious all the time?

Designers and developers make assumptions sometimes that users know the same as them. If the design of a form can cause someone to potentially lose financially, I would take even more care with every detail.

However, mistakes do happen. People can also enter wrong account numbers. I have seen such a case when a bank advisers had to help recover millions of kroners sent to a third party with a typo. Maybe only an AI can avoid human errors such as this.

Good design can only go so far to hold people’s hands while we use tools and forms. After a designer has done all they can to educate the user and add all fail-safes necessary, then the burden of responsibility falls upon the user at a certain point.



Mika Aldaba

a designer who writes sometimes