How to Develop a Fintech App in 2023: an Ultimate Guide
In the remote era we live in today, new fintech apps spring up on the market just like mushrooms after the rain. And that is not a surprise as investments in the fintech sphere doubled in 2021, making both fintech companies and banks direct rivals.
But what does this all mean for ordinary customers?
These days, customers can benefit a lot as this competition influences the appearance of innovative solutions and apps to solve their problems. How so? As there is hardly anyone who doesn’t own an iPhone or any other smartphone, a fintech app can offer customers a comfy and secure way to manage their money within the comfort of their homes.
So, is it high time for your fintech company to opt for a fintech app?
Our answer is positive. However, developing a secure and user-friendly fintech app can be tricky and quite difficult. That is why we have created this useful and detailed guide where we collected some of our professional insights as well as shared our hands-on experience on developing a fintech app effortlessly.
Just keep on reading to learn more.
What is Fintech?
Let’s start our fintech app development journey by defining what fintech actually is. Frankly, understanding its true essence is not very easy.
Generally, the term ‘Fintech’ is widely used to describe businesses that operate in the financial field. But what are those companies? Plenty of such companies offer innovative solutions for online payments and financial management. And most of them are startups.
According to the Business Research Company, by 2023, the fintech market will grow at a CAGR of 9,2% up to $158 billion and will continue this rapid growth till 2025.
You may ask how it grows so fast. And the answer is simple — it has happened thanks to the recent heavy investments in various fintech startups and increased use of the internet. Besides, money is tied with everything we do today, so fintech covers many, if not all, aspects of people’s lives.
What is Fintech App Development?
As we already found out, fintech apps are becoming more and more popular every single day. That is why many fintech startups, banks, and financial institutions are looking for ways to grow and raise capital with the help of them. However, they need to come up with something unique and eye-grabbing to catch the attention of potential customers (but that's the story for another day).
Today, a fintech app can be built powered by numerous advanced technologies like blockchain, machine learning, and even artificial intelligence or simply AI. They all help to streamline and skyrocket the way fintech apps deliver financial services to customers.
What is more, fintech applications can be built for different platforms, including smartphones, tablets, PCs or laptops, as well as different operating systems like, for example, iOS and Android, Windows phone or Symbian.
Why Your Business Needs a Fintech App
Still wondering whether your company needs to invest in a fintech app today? Here are some of the reasons to say ‘Yes’.
It’s a safe and easy way for customers to manage their money. Many people prefer managing their money online and a fintech app is a cost-efficient and comfy way to manage all the financial transactions with the help of a smartphone.
It makes people’s lives much easier. Remember going to the bank? Not the best experience you want to try again, right? Luckily, today, instead of going in-person to the physical bank, users can receive and send money in several clicks or use smart AI-powered chatbots to instantly get the answer to their questions. And they do not even need to browse a bank site, all they need is a smartphone.
It’s a great source of financial education. Financial literacy is very important today and fintech apps can become the key for people to better understand how to manage their money wisely.
It offers improved security. Security is a cornerstone of any business, especially if it operates in the financial sphere. Fintech apps are built with increased security using the best encryption technologies.
Most Popular Types of Fintech Apps
If you are thinking of building a fintech app, the first thing you should understand is what type of an app you need. The most widely used types of fintech apps as of today are the following:
Mobile banking is probably the most known and used type of fintech app. It is used for managing your accounts, transferring your funds, and paying bills. Mobile banking can be divided into two categories: those connected to brick-and-mortar banks and those that are operated digitally. Both of them offer their customers round-the-clock access to their money.
Mobile payments processors
Do you use PayPal? Then you already know what payment processors are. Online or digital payments are probably one of the main categories of apps in fintech. Payment processing apps help customers better and faster manage their online transactions and online payments. Mostly, such apps offer multiple payment options and instant transferring of funds between people.
Expense management systems
The expense management system is used by businesses of all sizes to record all employee expenses, conduct payments, as well as track expenses. In other words, this software simplifies the process of employee expense reimbursement by automating this process and centralizes all the expenses in one system.
Neobanks aka digital-only banks are financial institutions that have changed the banking landscape for good. Why are they so popular? All the provided services are conducted online via your desktop or mobile app without the need to go anywhere.
Today, neobanks can be divided into front-end and full-stack neobanks. The main difference between them is that full-stack neobanks have the license to work independently, while front-end ones are still linked to brick-and-mortar banks for providing financial services to customers.
Investment fintech apps
Investment fintech apps are mainly used by people who deal with the stock market. They offer some analytics and financial data for better investment management. Basically, they serve as financial advisors and allow to follow various stocks. Most of them also integrate with smartwatches and have smart notifications so that you always know about the changes on the stock market.
Digital wallets are used for online payments and it’s a place where all your virtual credit and debit cards are securely stored. Besides, there, you can also store your documentation such as various QR codes or your vaccines.
There are numerous types of digital wallets used in fintech apps, but among the most popular ones are open, semi-closed, and closed wallets. Open wallets are used for such operations as online transactions, in-store payments, purchases, cashback, while semi-closed and closed ones are used only by a certain type of retailers.
Recently, much attention has been given to crypto wallets, which serve as a place for cryptocurrency passwords storage. The main difference between crypto and ordinary digital wallets is that the crypto ones do not hold any currency, just store codes for cryptocurrency.
Remittance fintech apps
Remittance applications, also known as money transferring apps, allow users from all over the world to quickly transfer their money. Such fintech apps usually offer multi-bank and multi-currency services, management of various types of transfers, multiple languages and currency support.
Legal Requirements for Fintech Apps
There are various legal requirements for fintech apps that you have to comply with, depending on the country you are operating in. It is crucial to study those requirements thoroughly before building your first fintech application. Here are some of the most popular legal requirements:
GDPR compliance: if you work in the EU market, you must be GDPR-compliant. GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is a set of regulations on users’ data protection that you have to follow not to get fined.
CCPA compliance: CCPA or the California Consumer Privacy Act is another law that you have to follow if you operate your business for California citizens. Overall, this law gives people more control over their sensitive data.
Local regulations: if you target a certain area, you should always study local laws and rules to work legally.
Features of a Successful Fintech App
When you consider developing a fintech app, you have to carefully think of the necessary features it needs to have in order to be user-friendly and well-received on the market. But do not forget to sprinkle it with some unique features, so that you can stand against tough competition.
So, the go-to basic features your app must have are:
Strong security: you must protect your users’ data and financial information by complying with legal requirements and employing the latest encryption technologies, blockchain, biometric or two-factor authentication, or data obfuscation.
Biometric authentication: this way of logging in is extremely popular today. As stated in research by Visa, today 72% of Americans use fingerprint authentication while 67% use fingerprints for making payments.
User-friendly interface: friendly and simple UI/UX creates an intuitive experience for your users.
Payment gateway integration: many fintech apps are easily integrated with such payment services as Zelle, Paypal, or bank APIs so that users can easily make payments.
Easy onboarding: do you know the most popular reason why fintech apps lose their users after the app’s download? It’s a difficult and long onboarding process. So, you need to make sure that this process is streamlined and smooth.
Reward system: users can become your biggest marketers and promoters if you opt for a nice reward system. Just imagine, Robinhood has brought over a million of users before the app was even launched, thanks to their email referral campaign. So, do not underestimate employing referral bonuses, freebies, or gamification.
Multi-tier functionality: in order to better function, you need to employ the ability of multi-tier functions. This way, your app will run smoothly and be efficient during different simultaneous sessions.
Machine learning & Smartbots: artificial intelligence has become an inevitable part of fintech apps. Such big names like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and others have already been using AI-powered chatbots to provide their customers with a highly-personalized experience, thus bettering the level of customer retention.
Data analytics: the main reason why users opt for your fintech app is to analyze financial data. That is why you have to choose the best analytics integrations and plug-ins so that users can easily create custom reports and see the state of their finances.
Data Protection of Your Fintech App
As we have already told you, safety is the most crucial part of the creation of a fintech app. Here are some of the aspects that you should implement to ensure its strength:
First, you need to go beyond the simple authentication method of using username and password only and opt for two-factor authentication (2FA) instead. Among the most popular methods of 2FA is logging in with the help of a one-time code via SMS/email or push notification.
All the fintech apps that deal with card payments should be PCI DSS standard compliant. Of course, this compliance is quite a long and hard process that needs extra work from your side. That is why you need to hire seasoned developers who are aware of various nuances in financial security and anti-fraud measures.
Tokenization is one of the safest ways of storing and transferring users’ sensitive data. What does it look like? Basically, all the sensitive data (like, for example, a user's credit card number) is replaced with random numbers. These numbers or symbols are called tokens. All the tokens are stored in token vaults that are sort of a database. These token vaults store the original data and generated tokens so that only users can decrypt the information.
What is more, tokens are temporary so that no one can track your sensitive data through your transactions. Such type of data security measures as tokenization can also be used in NFC payments, online transactions, or gift cards.
3D secure or 3D is an extra layer of authentication created by Visa back in 2001. The three-domain model is aimed to prevent any potential cyber threat connected to credit cards like fraud, theft, and data breaches. The 3D secure process is conducted by verifying the user's identity before any payment authorization. This helps to protect your card from unauthorized use.
The Fintech industry has got privacy standards for user data protection. And if you want to operate in this industry, you have to play by the rules. Data encryption is one of those standards that protects sensitive data from leaks, tampering, and eavesdropping.
End-to-end encryption or simply E2E is used for the encryption of such user’s data as name, address, financial data (such as credit card number or payment history), social security number as well as any other data that a user provides for using your app.
Activity logging & payment blocking
Your fintech app needs to monitor any user’s activities and stop suspicious ones. Among the activities that need recording are: transactions, user ID, IP address, geolocation, device data, or any other crucial information.
The logs should be accessible for analysis and incident reports (including such info as timeline, incident details, and root cause analysis).
It is also paramount to be able to stop breaches with the help of payment blocking. Basically, payment blocking allows stopping any transactions that the system recognizes as suspicious.
All the transactions can be rated as low, medium, or highly risky. And, in case of high-risk transactions, the system will automatically reduce them and alert on the necessity of inspecting such log actions.
Hardware security model
A hardware security model or HSM is probably the most secure way to prevent any risks of fraud. Besides, this data encryption method is a mandatory requirement for PCI compliance. It is used to encrypt the card data so that it minimizes the impact of any fraud or threats.
This data encryption is device-based, meaning it uses cryptographic hardware to protect sensitive data. The hardware security model automatically generates and stores the keys that are associated with digital certificates that are used for encryption and decryption processes.
Tech Stack to Use in Fintech App Development
Now that you know the features of the great fintech app, let’s clarify which tech stack to use for developing such an application, both frontend and backend.
Sure, the exact tech stack of an app highly depends on the customer requirements, app's specifics, market situatiation, etc. Here is the tech stack we most likely to apply when delivering fintech apps.
Historically, a typical tech stack for fintech apps has been Java & .net. One of its benefits is extensive use and a wide range of libraries, which let us integrate various features provided by the leading fintech providers. Still, the speed and difficulty of deployment, staff cost and competency are among the weaknesses of the above-mentioned stack.
The NodeJS environment can be attributed to modern technologies, which is already not inferior in terms of integration capabilities, but benefits from a huge community and ease of support and deployment.
- Services: RabbitMQ, Kafka, Elasticsearch, Auth0
- Databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis
- Cloud solutions: Firebase, Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean
For cross-platform development, it is better to use one of the following frameworks: React Native, Native Script or Ionic.
- Language: Swift, Objective-C
- Tech stack: CocoaTouch, iOS SDK
- Analytics services: Facebook, Firebase, AppsFlyer
- Work with database: CryptoSwift, Realm, CoreData
- Language: Kotlin, Java
- Tech stack: Android Jetpack, Android SDK
- Analytics services: Facebook, Firebase, Amplitude
- Work with database: SQLite. Room, Realm
How Much it Costs to Build a Fintech App (and How Long it Takes)
Building a fintech app is often difficult because you do not know what type of budget you will need. Frankly, the cost of fintech app development varies greatly. Among the factors that may influence the final price of the product are the location of your development team, the app’s functionality, and the number of changes needed.
Here, we have illustrated the average price tag according to the size of the project and the app’s functionality.
Small: $50,000 -$100,000 - single platform app that has an easy interface and basic functionality (and it will take 1-2 quarters)
Medium: $100,000 - $250,000 - complex app with extra features and latest tech stack (up to an year of the team work)
Large: from $250,000 - complex app with great functionality (long term project)
Before development, try to find answers to such questions as:
Do you need a feature-rich fintech app?
What platforms are you going to use?
Are you looking for a web application or back-end API?
Do you want to be HIPAA-compliant and need bank-level encryption methods?
Do you need any integrations?
Do you need additional functionality like machine learning, AI, etc?
What signup methods will you use?
Do you need post-production support?
The answers to these questions will help you to understand how much money you will need for fintech app development.
8 Steps to Building a Successful Fintech App in 2023
Step 1: Ideation
The first step of any product development is ideation. During this step, you need to come up with your product’s concept and describe it in detail. You also need to create a step-by-step plan so that the whole development process is well-organized and structured.
Step 2: Conduct marketing research & product discovery
This is a stage when the work on product development begins. Study the market and the existing fintech applications to find out all the pros and cons of the apps on the market so that you can make a better product.
The product discovery will also help you understand whether your fintech app is worth creating. Usually, this process consists of the following stages:
Study your customers’ demands
Create a picture of your customers
Get to know what customers actually say and what issues they have
Create a visual mapping to get a complete picture
Gather customers’ feedback
Try to understand whether your product solves customers’ issues while remaining objectivity
Validate your theories
Step 3: UX design
The next stage is creating UX design, which includes such steps as prototyping, creating product logic, and smooth navigation. Remember that a well-conducted UX design is a cornerstone of an awesome user experience.
Step 4: Testing
When you are done with UX design, your next move should be to test everything out. At this stage, you will understand whether you used the right product logic and whether it is clear to users where everything is located. The testing results will show you if you need to change anything.
Step 5: UI design
UI design is what makes you stand out from competitors. Of course, if it is visually appealing. That is why the main goal of a UI designer is to build an interface that is both easy to navigate and pleasant to use. All the visual elements used in product creation such as images, footer, menu bar, and others have an impact on the users’ engagement. That is why they should be selected carefully.
Step 6: Convert design into a product
This is a step when you make your design alive. Usually, the fintech app development cycle consists of several stages:
Creation of the tech documentation: during this stage, all the tech documentation is created and the tech stack is selected. You should also decide on the functionality of the app (these are requirements for the admin panel) and user roles. During this stage, you also should estimate the future scope of work.
App development process: now the mobile app developers start working on the code for the app using all the tech documentation they got during the previous step.
Testing: when the code is done, it is time for QA specialists to take their part. The code must be tested manually so that you know that everything works correctly.
Deployment: after the testing, your team should be working on the production development plus integration. During this stage, the product is sent to people for beta testing and then you get user feedback and a list of issues they faced.
Maintenance: when you deploy your app in the production environment, your team needs to maintain it. So, if any issue arises or any improvements are needed, your team has to solve them.
Step 7: Get and analyze your feedback
Collecting feedback about your fintech app is essential as it helps to find out whether you need to improve your app or even delete something from it. And the best way to do it is by taking a small survey. This survey should include such questions as:
Is an app comfortable to use?
Did you face any issues while using an app?
Does this app satisfy your needs?
What do you want to improve?
Does this app meet your expectations?
Step 8: Make changes and develop
Your fintech app is finally developed and you think that is it? Of course, not. After the product is released, your work doesn’t end. It's quite the opposite. After getting customers’ opinions on it, you have to continue improving it. And that is an endless process.
Yes, developing a fintech app is quite a challenge. However, if you have a seasoned team and know what to do, you are halfway to success. Here are some of our useful insights that will help you make this process even better:
Before developing a product, you have to conduct thorough research on everything.
If you don’t have a reliable development team, you have to find one with solid fintech development skills. You will need a full team that consists of such specialists as a Business Analyst, Project Manager, UX/UI Designer, Front- and Back-End Developers, QA Engineer, and DevOps.
Start with MVP to test your ideas out and only then add some extra functionality.
Hear your users. This way, you will be able to create a product that will meet all their requirements.
Employ modern and latest tech stack for easy development and analysis processes.