A Fork in the Roadmap

A Fork in the Roadmap

We’ve decided to close our public roadmap on Trello. What the….? “some will cry. What roadmap? will others. So below our Customer Experience Director, Camilla Cooke, goes through why we opened it, why we’re closing it, and what you can expect to hear from Xinja about our plans moving forward. 

Why did Xinja open a roadmap?

We were still a few months off launching the bank account when we opened the roadmap, in July last year. We were following in the footsteps of Monzo in the UK, who had done something similar, also on Trello, and it was a good way of a) letting people know what we were planning and b) getting features upvoted so it helped us get a good sense of customer priorities. When we launched the roadmap, and for a good time afterwards, we started building out the features listed for the bank account and the plan was to let customers help guide the order of delivery 

So what happened?

For the rest of 2019, we kept pretty close to our original plans, and following the bank account launch we delivered Apple Pay & Google Pay as a pretty fast follower (and in record time) and then early in 2020 Stash, our savings account, and Round-up to Stash. There continued to be small changes to UX, and LOTS of infrastructural stuff below the surface, but the latter whilst important is invisible to customers. At this time, we started to build Dabble, the US Share Trading platform we’ll be launching soon, alongside our personal lending infrastructure (also to be launched soon). These are in fact entire businesses in their own right but we erred on the side of optimism with the timings we gave. We had anticipated having a much bigger development team from the middle of Q2 2020 but COVID put paid to that, and insufficient resource  meant we couldn’t focus on bank account features as well. So everything on the roadmap slipped back.  

Lessons learned

Setting dates means if you miss them, you disappoint. As someone who pushed hard for having the roadmap in the first place myself, I feel this very keenly. We have had some helpful suggestions on our community forum about taking out dates and following the practice which focuses on ‘now, next, later’ categorisationI noticed Monzo got similar suggestions from their customers when they closed their Trello roadmap. Although this too can be misleading. What if later never happens? Another obvious lesson (reinforced rather than learned) is that predictions can be wrong, and most importantly you have to adapt to the market conditions you’re in. It’s the nature of a start-up. That includes challenging the fact that simply adding features to a bank account is the best model for a neobankor indeed the best way to help customers make the most out of their money. Given the choice between making the US share market far more accessible and affordable to Australians to help them grow wealth (at a time when savings are, frankly, returning pitifullyand showing them graphs about their day to day spend, we chose the former.  

We will continue to be focused on innovative products that seriously shift the dial in helping our customers get ahead, whilst allowing us to make money. Some will be what people expect from a bank, others won’t.”

– Eric Wilson, CEO

Why is Xinja closing its roadmap?

We don’t want to go on setting expectations that we might not meet.  Circumstances and direction can change. We want to keep some information to ourselves for competitive reasons. And we are also moving towards adding products to the ecosystem and away from multiple bank account features, so the format of the roadmap based on rapid iteration of one product, is too micro and not really relevant. 

So what can you expect to hear from us?

We will be launching Dabble, our US Share trading product, soon and personal loans not that long afterwards. Beyond that, we’re not going to say anything at the momentapart from what Eric Wilson, our CEO, put in his recent investor update:  

We will continue to be focused on innovative products that seriously shift the dial in helping our customers get ahead, whilst allowing us to make money. Some will be what people expect from a bank, others won’t. We will also finish off the hygiene features, such as NPP, needed to make the bank account complete, but our priority will be innovations and additions that will make the Xinja ecosystem more valuable to customers. 

Most of all, we’d like to deliver products – as well as smaller features within them – before we talk about them too muchSo you’ll hear when something’s there, rather than when we predict it might be. 

We will also finish off the hygiene features, such as NPP, needed to make the bank account complete, but our priority will be innovations and additions that will make the Xinja ecosystem more valuable to customers.”

– Eric Wilson, CEO

How can customers contribute to priorities & the design of products?

Closing the roadmap doesn’t mean we won’t remember what customers have already said. We have gathered very clear and invaluable prioritisation from the roadmap when it comes to bank account features, and this will play out. Also, it doesn’t mean we’ll stop listening. Please drop into the community forum to let us know any suggestions or requests – this is a great spot for (sometimes heated) debate or feedback. Further, we’ll continue to run Xinja Labs usability testing when we’ve got a prototype to a point where customers can kick the tyres (such as the recent personal loans prototype feedback – many thanks to the 100s that volunteered).  

Finally, to all of you who have followed the roadmap, and voted for features or products, thank you. The roadmap is gone but the journey continues. 🙂

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