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Lexin Fintech (NASDAQ:LX)

Lexin Fintech was looking for more diverse channels to acquire new users and cut acquisition costs. A successful referral program can viral the company's growth based on the current user base. 

My Role

Product Manager and UX Designer


I was responsible for the end-to-end process, including user research, wire-framing and prototyping. I collaborated closely with 1 visual designer, 1 backend engineer, 1 front end engineer and 1 data scientist.



Company background

LexinFintech Holdings Ltd. is an online consumer finance platform focused on serving the credit needs of educated young adults in China. Its product, Fenqile, provides access to e-commerce, membership benefits, buy now pay later and lending. Established in 2013, it has built up a user base of over 150 million in China.

Problem statement

The company has a substantial increase in acquisition cost for new users. It acquired new users mainly from two channels: offline marketing campaigns and online advertisements. In order to stand out from competitors, the company has been devoting an increasing marketing budget but the return on investment has been decreasing. The company was looking for more diverse channels to acquire new users and cut acquisition costs.

Business Objectives

- To acquire more users

- To lower acquisition cost per user

- To convert the new users to paying users



Referral Program not only rewards existing users for bringing in new customers at a lower cost but also helps to expand our customer base and increase our sales.





Competitive Analysis


First I conducted a competitive research to see what the competitors were doing. I found that only one of them had a referral program in place but referral programs were common in other e-commerce platforms. Here were the insights that I found:


Referral Incentive

Coupons: Coupons were the mostly used incentive in referral programs, value from 20 RMB to 100 RMB.

Credits: Credits were used if there was a membership system in place and users can redeem credits for gifts and perks.

Cash: Cash were rarely used.

Gift and Perks: Gifts and perks were less used because they were hard to satisfy a large user group.

Dual Benefits

There should be dual benefits to the referral as well as the referee. In all cases they were equal.


There should be a dashboard to check the track of the referees for referrals.

User Research


I conducted a phone interview with 10 users to gather information about their attitude towards referrals and how referrals can create value to both referrals and referees.

Who is the right group of users that would be willing to refer us?

According to the survey, 21% of users are referring and are willing to refer in the future. 25% of the users show less interest and even refuse to refer. I asked the users in the interview and found that the main reason.


From the interviews, I found that there were two distinctive types of users that I summarized as the two personas below.

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I shared my findings to the team and we concluded that the referral program would be targeting “Opinion Leader” users like Serena rather than Leo because referral seems to be more aligned with their personal goals. In the in depth interview I also summarised the motivation and pain points of Opinion Leaders.

- Discover


Why do they refer?

- Good deals

The motivation of referer was to share the good deals on the platform that their friends might be interested in.


- Positive experience

Some users also mention that they want to share positive experiences with their friends or on social media.


- No reward for sharing

- Tedious process

Take "Share products/deals" as an example:

1. Find out the products and deals that she wants to refer

2. Tell her friends offline or on social media, find friends that are interested or channels that can reach potential new user

3. Share her experience in texts / photos / video

- Who to refer to?

“I don’t know who needs it.”

“I think most of my friends know about it.”

- Business Model

t takes time to explain the buy now and pay later model of the platform.

- Credibility

They need to assure the credibility of the platform to their friends. Since our top selling products were consumer electronics products like cell phones and computers, users want to buy products from reliable retailers that ensure return and after sales services.

- Personal Information

Some users are cautious to give their personal information to apply for credits.

Design Progress

Defined Design Vision

How might we provide an easy and quick way for opinion leaders to share their good finds and positive experience to their social group and benefit from sharing?

- Define


I summarized what I found and shared with the team. There are several key issues we need to discuss:

- Entry point

Where shall the user see it? When do the users want to refer us the most?

- Rule

What are the rules of completed referral? When shall the referee be awarded? What is the trigger and reward? How much shall the incentive be? How to avoid fraud?

- Trigger

What shall the ux copy be to trigger user to refer? 

- Interaction

Which type of interaction shall we enable to create an easy and quick share?

- Dashboard

What information shall be seen in the dashboard to encourage more referrals?

I want to share the most important two considerations for the above questions:

Entry point

From user research, it can be concluded that users initiate referral when they find great deals and receive positive experiences. Therefore, I aim to capitalize on peak happiness points to improve engagement rates, aiming to achieve compounding growth. 

Peak End Rule

Capitalize on Peak Happiness Points

The peak–end rule is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. The effect occurs regardless of whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant.



"The final moments of an experience disproportionately influence our subsequent attitude towards that experience."

- Neuro Design by Darren Bridger

From user research, I created a user journey map to identify the peak happiness points:

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I proposed to place the entry points to the following pages:



Product page - share product


Order completion page - After they make a purchase/borrow money

Order review page - After they receive the products/services and encourage them to review experience

Referral Fraud

Referral fraud was a huge concern for companies when we were offering valuable rewards to our customers. Therefore we need to take it into consideration when designing the rules and to collect data to monitor fraud. After discussion, we came up with the following rules:

- Reward after first transaction of the new user

- Regular fraud check: Because most of our products are physical products, we can check against the shipping address and contact information to avoid fraud. After discussing with engineers, we understood that it would be expensive to integrate the checking flow in the flow. We decided that the data team and I would conduct fraud checks every two weeks.

- Award coupons instead of cash: Because coupons can only be used with a real transaction, the loss is less if fraud happens.

- Develop


Based on our discussion, I created the user flow and wire frame.

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I simplified the referral process into 2 steps for referrer and 3 steps for referee, which will increase engagement, improve user experiences and decrease drop out rate.

We quickly tested the wireframe internally and quickly rolled out the first iteration to get feedback and data. The result was positive:

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High conversion rate in peak happiness points

We found that the users were more likely to share and refer in the product page and promotion page. And the registration rate was higher than other entry points. The first order completion rate was higher too. This proved that our assumptions of use cases for referral that the users would mostly want to share good deals and promotions. The Order completion page and the Order review page were the second highest in conversion rate. This further proved our assumption on capitalizing peak happiness moments.

Lower conversion rate in high traffic entry points

Need referral incentive

However, they were not getting high traffic and the referral CTA was not the centre of the page itself so the actual referee number was not as high as expected. We decided to highlight the CTA and change the UX copy to highlight the reward.

The dropout rate was especially high after the users clicked “refer a friend” CTA. I conducted  quick phone interviews with some users and found that although the process was streamlined and users were able to share the links to their contacts easily, they still have some other pain points. The users had a difficult time to find who to refer to. “I don’t know who needs it” “I think most of my friends know about it.”


Goal 1: increase conversion rate in high traffic entry points

Key change #1: Highlighted CTA in product page with incentives.


Key change #2: Incentive details added to modal.


Goal 2: create context to encourage sharing

Key change #3: added current promotions and popular items in the referral landing page to provide content for users to share


After the first iteration, we saw substantial traffic growth for the referral CTA in product page and promotion page. And the conversion rate was growing in high traffic entry points.

Ambassador Program 

After 3 months since the referral program launched, we further analyzed data of the users involved in the program. we found that there were some out-tiers who brought way more referees to us. I carefully viewed their profile and wanted to understand how they manage to do that and what their motivations were.  I conducted a focus group in 2 cities where we found a group of out-tiers. I asked them: What do you want? What could lexin do to help you grow?


We found that most of them were influencers that had their own audience group, big or small. 

  1. influencers with audience group

  2. Look for financial rewards by part time job and affiliate programs

  3. Some of them were part time helpers of lexin offline marketing events

  4. In need of useful and relevant content and perks to feed their followers

  5. Many of them will need a job after graduation/currently looking for a job


I presented my findings to leadership and suggested we could start an ambassador program to provide more incentive and drive more growth. I proposed that we could offer:


Actual financial reward

Content & perks

Internship job opportunities


And this was the first step of our affiliate program. We later started the affiliate program by providing an application link and handpicked the affiliates. We put an entry point in the referral program to recruit more potential affiliates. Most of them grew from the referral program because we need to see proof of their marketing skills. 


And the referral and affiliate program had been one of the most impactful features to user growth and ultimately became one of our main growth engines and was responsible for about 20% daily signups in the year when it launched.


- Data driven decision

By leveraging user data, we were able to identify pain points, optimize workflows, and increase user engagement. The insights gained from data analysis informed our design decisions, resulting in measurable improvements to the user experience.


- Communication

As a designer, one of the major responsibility is to communicate with other people, whether it is articulating design decisions with stakeholders or understanding users’ needs. The better you can communicate the design, the better the design will come out.


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Mentorship Management Tool

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