client guides · Clock14 min · 22 Apr 2022

How to Build a Fintech Mobile App: Trends, Features and Costs

Tatsiana Kerimova

Tatsiana Kerimova

Chief Executive Officer

building a fintech app
Illustration by Amir Kerr

The year 2021 has been an incredibly strong period for the global fintech market. From neobanks to insurtech, global fintech investment has reached $210 billion with 5,684 deals. The V-shape recovery of post-pandemic fintech is the result of COVID-driven contactless payments, maturing technologies, and limited business opportunities for traditional banking. Less rigid regulations also have a beneficial impact on fintech application development.

On the same note, fintech mobile apps got a buzz out of the sector’s expansion. Financial app downloads skyrocketed to a 22.7% download CAGR between 2019 and 2021.

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Source: Sensor Tower

This means that no time is more right than now to join the bankable market of fintech. Today, we’ll find out how to develop a fintech app so you can benefit from this craze.

Seven Types of Fintech Applications

Fintech is an umbrella term that includes a whole slew of software solutions that support digital transactions. In layman’s terms, financial technology can refer to all tech improvements in the financial industry. In fintech application development, the type of your solution will define the core functionality and the overall development direction. 

To get a better handle on the fintech ecosystem, let’s go over the most popular types of fintech mobile apps.

Budgeting and Financial Planning Applications

Personal finance management apps, or customer finance apps, aid users in better allocating their budget and monitoring their expenses. Using fintech apps of this type, consumers have a holistic picture of their income-expense ratio and can plan their spending. Many even group your spending into different buckets, so you know exactly where your money goes. According to CustomerThink, over 60% of smartphone users have at least one personal finance app.

The following solutions are great inspirations for apps in the niche:

  • Mint is a one-stop budgeting application that puts users’ spending into budget categories. Heralded by CNBC as the best money-tracking app, Mint boasts 30 million users. The app generates revenue through referral fees while being free to download.
  • YNAB has earned a spot on Forbes Advisor as the best budget makeover app. The application provides users with insights into their budget and expenses. YNAB’s average monthly revenue stands at $310K. The app’s business model is based on monthly subscriptions.

Cryptocurrency Trading Applications

Blockchain-based services are in vogue at the moment, with $6.6 billion of worldwide spending. Cryptocurrency applications account for the lion’s share of the market and facilitate trading and exchanging crypto coins. This app category’s demand is highly dependent on cryptocurrency prices and the decentralized market as a whole.

The hall of fame includes:

  • Coinbase is the largest and most popular cryptocurrency investing and trading platform. The average number of active daily users was over 639K in 2021. According to the company, the app generated $7.4 billion in net revenue in 2021. The platform makes money via fees it charges when trading, staking, or converting crypto.
  • Binance is another example of a cryptocurrency app and has almost 30K active daily users. According to Bloomberg, this online exchange has raked in at least $20 billion of revenue in 2021. The app generates income through a slew of sources. These include trading fees, interest on loans, cloud offerings, interchange fees, mining services, and others.

Mobile Payment Applications

Paying for goods and services has never been easier than now. Mobile payment apps allow users to add their credit or debit cards to facilitate cashless transactions. Thus, payment apps help make UPI (Unified Payments Interface) transactions with no physical money or card at hand. The growing popularity of these apps is secured into the future, with wallets serving at least $1 billion growing an estimated 27% between 2020 and 2025.

Let’s look at the top drawer of payment apps.

  • Venmo is a well-known digital wallet that allows for fast and easy mobile payments. In 2021, Venmo’s total payment volume increased by 44% to $230 billion. The business model canvas sits on interchange and withdrawal fees, affiliate commissions, and other types of fees.
  • PayPal is a granddaddy among virtual payment solutions that have gained worldwide recognition. In 2021, PayPal’s net revenue was $25.4 billion, while total payment volume surged to $1.25 trillion. The app has a few revenue streams, including customer transactions fees and other value-added services.

Mobile Banking Applications

The popularity of banking apps is growing in giant strides. In 2021, around 76% of Americans used their primary bank’s mobile app for everyday banking tasks.

The landscape is blooming as well. Thus, neobanks have entered the scene to edge out traditional banking tech offerings. Popular neobanking apps, such as YONO SBI, Nubank, and PicPay, each saw a 30% YoY increase in monthly active users in 2021. 

  • Nubank is the leading independent neobank with a global presence. The neobank is 100% digital and uses apps to support its customers. The company reported a YoY total revenue increase of 224.3% in 2021, which translates to $1.7 billion. The revenue model is predicated on multiple sources, including interchange fees, interest on customer deposits, overdraft fees, ATM withdrawal fees, and subscriptions, among others.
  • PicPay is a large Brazil-based banking app, with more than 62.9 million users. According to the company’s report, the annual net revenue of this app reached around $1.1 billion in 2021. Its business model is unique and relies on its social payments, digital wallet, financial marketplace, PicPay store, and ads.

Insurance Applications

Going mobile in insurance means simplifying payments, claim filing, and other insurance-related activities. Insurtech market growth is estimated to persist and reach $10.14 billion by 2025. This market advancement is backed by the increasing number of insurance claims as well as growing coverage of life insurance. Also, the majority of insurers are now focusing on digital transformation to reduce operational costs, as suggested by McKinsey.

  • The Lemonade app is an insurance app from America’s top-rated insurance company. The application covers a great number of insurance offerings, including home, condo, car, pet health, and term life insurance. Launched in 2016, the insurapp’s revenue surpassed $128.4 million in 2021. Their annual recurring revenue is the result of fixed fees when customers buy the insurance.
  • Hippo is another smart insurance app that uses IoT devices to detect issues within a home. The app’s business model is based on referral fees. This innovative app accounted for $91.2 million in revenue in 2021.

Lending Applications

The market size of global digital lending platforms is estimated to leap from $5.58 billion in 2019 to $20.31 billion by 2027. Moreover, the total transaction value in the segment will grow by $344.50 billion in 2022. The traction gains of alternative lending are attested to by the peer-to-peer system that amplifies the apps. Users bypass traditional banking institutions and can easily take out a loan in mere minutes.

  • Dave is a digital solution for easy paycheck advances that help users cover small expenses. This neobank-type application raked in around $153 million in 2021, a 30% YoY increase. The app generates income via fees and interest earned in cash.
  • MoneyLion is a personal finance and lending application. In 2021, the company reported net revenue of $171.1 million in 2021, a 115% year-over-year increase from 2020. Moreover, the total number of customers grew 131% to 2.7 million. The business model is based on loan business, lead generation, and subscriptions.

Investment Applications

Investing is also going strong on mobile in 2022. E-trading app downloads reached an all-time high in 2021, with Robinhood scoring over 3 million downloads. The value proposition of such digital products revolves around increased accessibility to stock markets and a more detailed look at users’ investment portfolios.

  • Robinhood is a zero-commission online brokerage app that allows investors to buy and sell stocks for free. Last year was extremely successful with the total net revenue for 2021 surging by 89% to $1.82 billion. The app generates income via rebates, added services, fees, and cash management.
  • eToro is another commission-free app that eases access to financial and trade-copying services. In 2021, their reported revenue was $1.23 billion with 26.9 million users in December 2021. Like other apps in the niche, eToro makes money through the spread it applies on trades as well as multiple fees.
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Fintech App Development Trends for 2022

Knowing a solution type you want to launch is not enough when it comes to building a fintech app. In 2021, the industry saw tremendous growth backed by burgeoning technologies. The fin-vestment boom, in turn, gave birth to new solutions and services that are based on some of the hottest technologies. So, let’s see what tech wonders your customers expect to see in your financial product.

Blockchain

The modern fintech revolution is majorly spearheaded by distributed ledger technology such as blockchain. Thanks to its decentralized and immutable nature, blockchain can disrupt legacy financial processes and transform them into transparent transactions built on secure and fast procedures. 

The benefits of blockchain in finance also include improved customer experience (up to 25%) and boosted efficiency (up to 40%). The app ecosystem of decentralized solutions is already vibrant. 

Thus, the number of decentralized applications has surpassed 4000 with 374 new dApps entering the ecosystem in December 2021. Other popular applications of blockchain include decentralized exchanges, lending, crypto trading, prediction markets, and other Defi solutions.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a staple for most digital solutions, including finance. Thus, AI in fintech had a market value of $7.91 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $26.67 billion by 2026. The application area of smart systems in fintech is massive. From fraud detection and churn prediction to optical recognition, artificial intelligence optimizes trading activities and enhances personalized customer experience.

Big Data

Today, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs. In fintech, customer empathy stems from the insights extracted from Big Data. The latter is produced by transactions, credit scores, and other in-app financial tools. Using this data, businesses can foresee customer actions, adjust bank policies, and map strategies for growth. 

Microservices

Finally, if you are looking to build a fintech app that is fast and reliable, you should consider microservices as an app architecture. The hallmark of microservices is an innovative database structure that promotes easier scaling compared with legacy systems. 

Moreover, microservices architecture yields enhanced security, hassle-free integrations, and faster deployment. This bag of benefits is the main reason why the approach was adopted in 37% of organizations in 2021.

How to Make a Fintech App: Step-by-Step

The development roadmap of a fintech solution is similar to that of other domains. Hence, getting your solution to the market includes a consistent app development lifecycle with traditional and niche-specific milestones. Let’s have a closer look at the main steps.

Choose Your Niche and Ensure Legal Compliance

Before starting the development process, you should assess the market viability of your future solution. To do that, decide on the app type, target audience, and main competitors. This information will help you niche down and decide on the main requirements of the future solution.

Moreover, regulatory compliance is crucial for this domain. Common compliance acts and rules for the fintech niche include:

  • GDPR – a legal framework for data privacy in the EU market.
  • CCPA – a state-applicable data privacy law for California residents.
  • Financial Action Task Force Recommendations – a fintech standard that prevents illegal financial operations among other crimes.

Mind that most regulations are location-specific, so you need to research the target market.

Shape the Concept and Define the Feature Set

The next step of the planning stage is to solidify your development requirements and business objectives. The more accurate and clear your functional requirements are, the more satisfying the final product will be. A detailed project description then lays the groundwork for a set of must-haves and optional functionality. Ideally, your development team should perform meticulous business analysis to evaluate, based on the competition and user insights, how relevant each feature is.

Design Compelling UI/UX

Now, it’s time to bring the app exterior to life. The app interface is a crucial part of your solution that interacts with and draws in new loyal users. Therefore, this aspect of development gobbles up a significant amount of time and resources. 

At this step, your design team will establish a coherent design strategy based on content requirements and competitor research as well as user personas, stories, and customer journeys.

The result of this stage is a final layout that includes a detailed design description and covers the states of all app screens. This way, developers can have a full picture of how an application will look and feel.

Related: Step-by-Step Guide to Mobile App Design Process

Choose the Development Approach

Once your vision is fully shaped, you need to decide on a relevant tech stack and team structure. The technology set is directly linked to the system specification and complexity of your project. 

Moreover, your technological choice will depend on:

  • App functionality;
  • Flexibility and scalability requirements;
  • Time to market;
  • System load requirements;
  • Platforms (web, native, or hybrid apps);
  • Security requirements;
  • Automation objectives (for AI-based solutions).

As for the team structure, it is largely influenced by the same tech aspects we’ve mentioned above. If your app is of medium-to-complex functionality, your development team has to spend more hours developing the system, while a simple-to-medium solution is faster to create and requires fewer resources. 

Estimate Time and Costs

Once the planning stage is over, your tech partner will estimate the costs and timeline of your project. We at Orangesoft offer multiple engagement models to cover unique client needs. Whether it’s the fixed price approach or the time & material (T&M) option, make sure to assess the pros and cons of each. Thus, the T&M model is better for undefined budgets and requirements, while monthly fees are a better fit for well-estimated projects.

Related: Fixed Price vs. Time and Materials Contract: Which One to Choose for Your Project?

Develop an MVP

A minimum viable product (MVP) is an early version of your application with a minimum set of functions. However, the functionality must be enough for your end-users to test the application. 

Launching an MVP first allows companies to test the waters without huge investments into unnecessary functionality and to maximize their return on the risk. Once your MVP is tested by real users, the team can make further improvements to launch a full-fledged application.

Related: Full Guide on How to Build an MVP

Improve and Support Your Fintech App

The development process doesn’t fade out with the product release. Application maintenance is equally important to ensure your solution remains competitive and user-friendly. Since the fintech market is an evolving one, regular maintenance activities are especially important to cover growing user and technical needs.

Core Features for a Fintech App

A perfect combination of technologies is what can make or break your financial product. To help you handle the how-to-build question for your fintech app, we’ve curated the trending functionality present in most fintech applications.

Privacy and Security

Security compliance should be at top-of-mind when building any fintech app. Moreover, the financial sector is highly susceptible to data breaches alongside the rising data leak costs. To ensure security compliance, your solution must be integrated with robust authentication and authorization systems. Biometric and two-factor authentication are the go-to security options. Thorough testing, API security, and payment blocking will also keep hackers at bay.

Payment Gateway Integration

To enable cashless transactions, your solution must rely on some payment mechanisms. Ready-made payment gateways will allow your app to process transactions via Stripe, PayPal, or Braintree. Bank APIs also empower applications with financial services with no hassle of having your own banking license.

Alerts and Notifications

Push notification is a staple feature for any application type. This feature allows businesses to connect with their customers directly and provide updates on current services. Alerts also help brands engage users with highly curated content, thus boosting revenues and increasing customer loyalty.

Transactional updates, security alerts, and financial planning tips can also be channeled via notifications.

Dashboards and Reporting

When the app welcomes the user, it should display all important data on one screen. This way, the user will have a full understanding of their assets, spending, and incoming transactions. However, the reporting feature must be designed with usability in mind. 

AI-Powered Chatbots

AI-fueled voice assistants can ease the strain on customer service agents while effectively mapping the user journey. In-app chatbots can also up-sell and cross-sell financial services as they interact with the users. Finally, smart assistants increase user engagement and help your app stand out from the rest.

API Integration

APIs, or application programming interfaces, are a win-win scenario for both developers and companies. These mechanisms allow two software components to share data, thus eliminating the need to build an additional feature for your application. For example, API integration enables users to access their checking account information or make a purchase via the PayPal payment system.

QR Code and Card Number Scanning

Optical character recognition is another gem to include in your application. This technology allows users to scan their credit and debit cards with no manual keying. Card number scanning connects users’ payment details with the app’s functionality, thus encouraging customers to purchase more. 

QR codes also facilitate faster payments. Thus, users can simply scan codes to transfer money from one account to the other. 

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Fintech App?

There is no exact estimation that holds true for all applications. The total will depend on the following cost drivers:

  • Functionality and complexity of your application;
  • Platforms (iOS,  Android, or both);
  • Number and nature of integrations;
  • Dashboards and animation;
  • Cutting-edge features (blockchain, AI, and others), and more.

At Orangesoft, we’ve developed fintech apps within different price ranges. Some apps may cost up to $300K to build, while simple-to-medium solutions stand at $80K. 

If you’re wondering how to build a fintech app and not overspend, we recommend launching an MVP first. The MVP will allow you to plan further development budgets while having a better understanding of core features.

Related: How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App

How to Monetize Your Fintech App

Monetization models for a financial solution vary by the beneficiary. Thus, you can make a profit via user offerings, third-party services, or in-app transactions. When your app is in the wild, you can add other sources of revenue, yet a consistent business approach is necessary.

Subscriptions

A subscription-based model is one of the most common revenue models for all app types. In this case, users pay a recurring fee to access the app. We recommend offering a trial period first so that the users can explore the solution. After that, a subscription fee can be charged to bypass feature or content restrictions.

Transactional Fees

Within this model, the user pays a fee each time a transaction is made through the application. Transaction fees are applicable either to all payment types or specific transactions. You can also combine this revenue source with the subscription fee.

Referrals and Ads

Referral programs are deemed one of the most profitable collaboration approaches between the company and its partners. Thus, fintechs integrate with third parties that offer value to the app users, be it accounting services or additional fin-tools. The more users the referral or an ad reels in, the more commission is brought to the app owner. 

Paid API Access

Just like you can buy someone’s API, you can also provide your own if you are a payment gateway. Reusable functionality can be offered on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. Transaction fees and point-based earnings are also popular monetization options. PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Pay are textbook examples of paid APIs. 

Data Monetization

Finally, you can generate revenue out of available or real-time streamed data. Fintech is a rich source of valuable user insights. These may include purchase history, spending habits, average spending, and other customer habits. The immensity of this information can then generate valuable insights for your partners. However, your app’s policies must list data sharing and selling to avoid possible misunderstanding.

Orangesoft Experience in Building Fintech Apps

Over the years, our team has assisted global businesses in developing fintech solutions of different complexities. As a rule, we take over the project from ideation to delivery, thus providing turnkey app development.

We also build the back-end part of the app and feel comfortable stepping in mid-development. However, our UX/UI specialists prefer to validate the designs first to make sure your application is on the right track. As for the timeframe, the mileage can vary. It can take us from 2 to 15 months based on app complexity. 

Our team is also well-versed in delivering all types of fintech apps. Thus, we have successfully delivered a stock portfolio tracking app for our US client. We designed and developed an iOS app that collects the user’s investment accounts from different brokerages into a single dashboard to give them a real-time view of every stock they own.

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Stock Portfolio Tracking App Developed by Orangesoft

Another client of ours, who is a US provider of tax payment services, needed an iOS app for easier invoicing. Our team has helped the company to create a native mobile app to manage paper and electronic invoices with a real-time dashboard of bills and other critical features.

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Invoicing Application Developed by Orangesoft

The Future Is Fintech

Fintech is one of the fastest-growing sectors in global business today. Blockchain, AI, and other tech advancements are the linchpins of the financial world and will continue to shape it. As for mobile applications, they bring this tech combo directly to users’ pockets and simplify transactions. However, fintech app development is a challenging undertaking that requires hands-on expertise and best security practices.

If you’re still wondering how to build fintech apps, drop a line, and our specialists will address your questions.

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