Magic Money: Self-Repaying Loans
Simplifying the crypto experience to enable use of a unique financial innovation.
Time2 Months
RoleLead Product Designer
ClientAlchemix Community
OVERVIEWImagine, Crypto Ux Needs improvement..

In 2021, I became fascinated by the Alchemix protocol. It’s a tool that allows you to put money in a vault for awhile and in exchange for that, you get 50% of the money right now as a loan to yourself. You regain access to your initial funds after that vault has accrued enough on other DeFi protocols to pay that loan back. No interest. No flat fee. The only risk is the opportunity cost of the time your assets are locked up.

Basically, crypto money robots go and use your money you locked up across different crypto protocols so you can lend yourself money from the future. Magic!

Naturally, as it goes in the crypto industry, the interface is impossible to use for the average, non-crypto user. To address this issue, I wanted to create a mobile application that would simplify the user experience and make it easier for people to access this novel financial tool that only exists in crypto.

THE PROBLEMUsability. Conceptual Divide. Technical Exposure.

Digging into the Alchemix discord and talking to users, crypto-native & non crypto-native, revealed there were too many obscure transactions happening to set up a vault with confidence. Additionally, once the loan is complete and ready for withdrawal, it wasn’t quite clear that you needed to go through a couple of asset-transmutation transactions to get your original money-type back. Even typing that now makes me exhausted & frustrated for users. Obviously there is room for improvement.

ProblemsIndustry Problems. Product Problems
01 Basic Usability

Watching people try to use Alchemix made me physically cringe. Heuristically, there were many things that needed improvement in the Alchemix interface. Lack of feedback, poor error recovery (which really matters when you’re making irreversible transactions!), unclear system status (an endemic crypto app problem when it comes to communicating to the user what’s going on onchain), & more.


So let’s say a user could look past the horrific usability, next they have to understand the actual purpose of this application. It’s difficult to describe in words, and even more difficult to communicate in an interface. I’ve always been a proponent of contextual learning in conceptually-challenging applications. Much needed in crypto. In Alchemix’s interface, there was none.

03 Transaction Fatigue & DISTRUST

Beyond the lack of concept clarity and usability issues there were too many transactions. In order for Alchemix to work there needed to be a ‘transmutation’ step that turned one token into another. A major UX obstacle that should have been abstracted away to have less onchain interaction and allow people to only have to worry about one token.

SOLUTIONIn context EXPLANATION, simplicity, familiar interaction patterns

Talking to non-crypto about this protocol made me realize how helpful it could be for the average person. It makes your savings useful for unexpected expenses. If I’m saving $3000 and I don’t plan on touching that money for the next several years, it makes complete sense to lend myself money while those savings remain untouched. Thus, I designed for non-crypto users.

I started to create my solution by thinking of how to explain what is happening to new users in the simplest language possible. The design assumes a low familiarity with crypto.

SolutionSimple Aesthetic, Loan Centric Information Architecture

For better or worse, the mass simplification of interfaces is an attribute of modern digital products that has come to signal trust. You can see in the old Alchemix interfaces the amateurish aesthetic doesn’t exactly scream ‘trust this app with my money’. This is one of the things I set out to address with a simplification of the aesthetic into a pretty flat UI.

The iA is simplified to keep the focus of the application on the loans themselves, not their details. Whereas the other interface made each operation you can do a page, my interface does this only under the context of a loan, reducing the amount of information the user has to make sense of and exposing only what is necessary, at the moment it becomes important for their task.

OutcomesMagic Money At your fingertips, kind of.

This application is a re-envisioning of a complex concept and desktop interface. I made it mobile because mobile accessibility is crucial to ensure access to users across the world who have been excluded & gate-kept from financial services. Unfortunately as it stands right now this application couldn’t exist in Apple’s app store or Google’s app store because of their hardline insistence that they take a cut of payments that run through their app store. Throw crypto on top of that and it doesn’t stand a chance. Censorship is very alive and thriving.

I’m still serious about this application. If a dev (or somebody at Alchemix) comes across this project, hmu on twitter, I’d love to help build it / improve what’s already there.