Westpac Wonder

A new experience set to revolutionise the way people view home loans

Towards the end of 2014 I went back into client-side contracting. I got involved as a CX lead at Westpac on a few mid-sized product development projects. One of these was the redesign of the iPhone- and iPad banking apps for Westpac and St. George.

After this I was asked to become Customer Experience Lead in a much larger project around home ownership: Wonder. This was meant to become a platform for investors, owner occupiers and those who are about to enter the house market. Up to then this was the biggest digital transformation project at Westpac. It was treated as a Service Design project since it extended throughout the whole home ownership journey.

The challenge

Before Wonder, the process for applying for a home loan was the same for all customers, whether they were new to the bank or long standing customers.

This is how that process looked:

  • Fill out a paper form
  • Submit this form to a banker in branch, coupled with supporting documentation such as proof of identity and assets
  • Wait for a credit decision to be made, with fingers crossed that they received the outcome they wanted.

As a multi-disciplinary team we were looking to streamline this and solve some of Westpac's core business problems:

  • How to could we use data to the advantage of the customer, taking data fragmentation, privacy and security limitations into consideration?
  • How could we streamline the application process, what are current barriers and how could we take these away?
  • What are the typical insights customers need to take key decisions around home ownership?
  • When and where do we provide these insights? what can we base them upon?

Our Approach

As a Customer Experience Lead I was responsible for giving shape to what was referred to as the “Property Center”, the "home" of Wonder. We envisioned this as a functionality that would sit in, and closely integrate with, the pre-existing online banking suite of apps and websites. Besides the stream of work I was responsible for, there were also two other big streams of work: one revolving around new loans and another one around increasing existing loans. Each stream had it's own UX, UI and development team and we all aligned with eachother on daily basis. Every team also committed to fortnightly user testing.

The process we followed is roughly outlined below:

  • Observation
  • Framing the Challenge
  • Lean UX
  • Customer Value Proposition
  • Scenario A: extra funds
  • Scenario B: next options 1/3
  • Scenario B: next options 2/3
  • Scenario B: next options 3/3

I led a team of UX and UI people and together we participated in bi-weekly Agile (SCRUM) sprints assisted by a team of developers. Our concepts were externally tested at the end of each sprint and it was my responsibility to process the findings and distill them into recommendations which I presented to the stakeholders.

The latest insights from our bi-weekly testing sessions were centrally displayed on a whiteboard.

Axure software was used to generate the prototypes that we provided to the external testing agency.

Customer Research

To gather customer needs we organised interview sessions during which we:

  • Asked a number of questions around home ownership
  • We talked them through various proposition variants and asked which they found most applealing and why.
  • Finally we showed them mockups of different features and asked them about their thoughts

Key Customer Insights


A place where I can go to see all my nances from all my banks in one place: Cash on hand, the value of all my assets, liabilities and your net wealth.


A place where I can go to understand where all my money is going and what I could change to improve my spending habits.


A place where I can go to set and track my savings goals.


A place where I can go that helps me ensure my money is working as hard as it can for me.

How much can I borrow?

A place where I can go to see how much money I can borrow for a home loan.

What are my options?

A place where I can go to see all the savings and investment options available to me

Wonder’s design principles

The entire Wonder experience has been shaped by three core design principles. These were generated from the customer needs that we had distilled from our research and testing:

Know Me

Show me where I stand; Customers want to understand the truth about their current borrowing capabilities.

Empower Me

Respect my journey; Customers want to access all the information important for them, before making such an important commitment.

Bank WOW

Simplest path to yes; simplified data entry requirements and the inbuilt risk decision engine mean Wonder can offer customers a quick path to acting with confidence.

A bit of context: the Australian housing market

It's important to mention that this project had a high importance within the organisation. Not just because home loans were big business, that's obvious. But also because the market was at a high point (see graph below). Affordability was still quite good but the actual house prices were going up in big steps. The housing market in Australia hasn't seen the crisis the rest of the world has. It's actually been on a steady incline since the 70s. There is an ongoing debate about whether the current market is a bubble. So in other words: the timing was right.

Global House Price to Income Ratio

House Prices have grown faster than incomes in a number of countries / Source: International Monetary Fund (imf.org). Latest available index or 2016, 2010 = 100

Sydney House Price Index

House Price Index 2002 to 2015 / Source: Queensland Government

Our Solution


We learned that owning a home is still the big dream for many Australians, but today’s processes can sometimes make it difficult for them. The ambition for Wonder is to make things easier. An up-to-date customer profile attached to a real time risk decision engine using regulator approved responsible lending practices give customers a clear understanding of their borrowing options.

With each interaction with the bank, from a lending product to a credit card, Westpac collects important information about a customer’s position and uses this to populate their profile. Based on that information, the risk engine calculates a live lending figure: this is the home loan the customer is able to lend.

As customers update their profile with information such as a salary increase, or a credit card with another bank, that figure is updated in real time.

More features

As customers can access Wonder through online banking, they can access information or upload documentation to support their application anywhere, anytime.

  • Customers can explore their options and build a relationship with a lender at their own pace through the interface.
  • Customers can verify their options and borrowing amount (including tailored pricing).
  • Customers can access tools that help them narrow the property search and refine their scenarios. They can get formal approval and loan documentation online.
  • Customers can always see options for their next steps, including existing equity and pre-approved borrowing amounts (including tailored pricing).
  • Customers can manage their loan online and access top up / variation immediately.

Exploring a feature scenario in which a customer is planning for renovations

Another scenario where someone is planning to sell their house

Not only does Wonder assist customers, it also gives valuable time back to bankers in branch and call centres too. By reducing the need for capturing data, staff can instead focus on having meaningful conversations with customers.

Lenders have access to the same information to assist delivering optimal service:

  • Staff can explore tools and options with customers, interact by answering questions related to scenarios or set customers up with tools for home use.
  • Staff see information that has been shared by customers, so they can help them compare and validate scenarios (including tailored pricing). Staff can always see how much of the application has been filled out ‘in the background’ and easily complete this for approval.
  • Staff can assist customers using the same system to approve loans, generate and track documentation.
  • Staff see the same options that have been generated for customers and have the systems to help them pro-actively support customers (including tailored pricing).
  • Staff can assist customers using the same system to manage changes to loans.


Prior to Wonder, an approval in principal or indicative borrowing amount could take several days to process. Now, the process is instantaneous. Plus, as Wonder uses up to date customer information, this process doesn’t have to be repeated.

Wonder has made things simpler, faster and easier for customers to understand exactly where they stand and what they can do.