Mobile Apps for Fintech from Scratch. Hints from Fields
February 19, 2019
There hardly exists a sphere of human activities untouched by mobile applications. Apps fit the swift pace of life entirely. We get used to the level of comfort mobile services provide anywhere and at any time. Finances, payments, and banking domains follow the tendency. Among many apps Dashdevs has developed together with clients for 8 years, there were a mean bunch of projects from the fintech domain. If you want to create a fintech mobile app from scratch and eager to know some hints, this article may happen helpful for you.
Draw a hypothesis and add some passion
The idea comes first naturally. Sometimes the inspiration strikes you, and an idea lights up in your mind. You have the eureka moment. But not every time. When it comes to the app, your business is to find an intention to grow or a pain to solve. The idea should resonate with the potential app users. Think of what people like the most, or what they what to get rid off. Below are a few examples of people’s concerns and desires when dealing with money.
- We don’t like banks to dictate us the terms.
- We hate waiting in lines to make payments.
- We all have a situation of the ATM failure at the wrong moment.
- We don’t want to pay much for our transactions.
- We want to know our money is safe.
- We like to make decisions about our money freely.
- We want to have a clear vision of our financial status.
- We like saving money.
- And we love to spend them much more.
After you ideate your app, it is time to invent how to turn it into a unique and compelling app. It is up to you to determine the resources and budgets that you are going to invest in the app. Your job is to research the market, find out the rules and laws that are applied to the industry, as well as your potential client habits. You should also define what mobile platforms your application will work for and what will be its revenue model. It is also essential to describe the flow and assignment of responsibilities. You would see which tasks you could do yourself and for which you require vendors. You may hire a full cycle contractor from the very beginning to help you with business analysis, business strategy, design, software development, app release, and support. Otherwise, you may choose several different companies to order selected services at any stage. But it is you who drives and rules these processes as an app owner.
- While drawing the hypothesis, check that the idea does not mirror your single opinion. If you are going to market the app, you should know and accept different points of view and deliver the value to your app users.
- You may spy on the inspirational hypothesis from the related domains, spheres, and industries.
- You should compile all the scope of ideas into a list. You should document even the rejected ideas. The history of your progress may help people or a vendor to understand your strategy, no matter when they join you.
- Try to avoid a bottleneck approach. Be open-minded and look at your idea from different sides.
- Do not be afraid to get rid off the wrong ideas. Sticking to the initial hypothesis tooth and nails is not useful. If you see that idea will not run, change it.
- Be ready to spend some money at the early stage on the wrong ideas. These are lessons to protect you from notable failures. Think of what you might lose if you would keep developing a useless app.
- Do not copy the idea. It may look a simple way — just to make a clone of a popular product, but it is not that easy. You will get that popular app as your main competitor. You will need to outcompete a product that already gained a reputation and trust to succeed.
- It is important to learn the financial habits and customs of countries you are going to enter. I.e., in the US people get used to saving for college.
Test the waters and seek information
Your app will not fly high without solid knowledge in the background. Conduct all the possible researches to support your idea.
What info to research before going deep in the app development
- Look for competitors and what they have done.
- Define market demands and customer expectations.
- Look for trends and tendencies.
- Analyze the functionality or the related apps in the app marketplaces.
- Research for available solutions, API, and technologies in the field.
- Check the legislation requirements, limits, and restrictions for the industry.
- Do all the listed above researches for the linked domains also.
The list is far from being full. Nevertheless, this is the necessary minimum to prepare for further app development. Information is the base to help you and your contractors in creating a unique product or service.
- Find industry experts you can work or consult with, and protect yourself from failures, especially when you deal with finances.
- Try to find an answer to the tiniest question you managed to formulate.
- Each stage of your research should result in the documentation and conclusions.
- With the research, the vital thing is to process the gathered data correctly, use multiple methods to evaluate information, and get the systemized results with definite conclusions.
- Don’t be afraid to shake the foundations and doubt your core statements. It is better to be data-driven and know risks than wallow in ignorance and false beliefs.
- Do not limit data. It happens that service providers will ask you for some additional studies and investigations or ask you to share the unprocessed results. Our advice is to let them conduct extra research and provide them with extra data. You need as more independent points of view and opinions as possible to grasp the broader picture.
You will formulate your personas and buyers characteristics. Then analyze their expectations and compare those demands with the functionality provided in competitor’s apps. Such a comparison may reveal the gap between users satisfied expectations and demands not fulfilled with features. Use that gap to offer killing functionality to your app users.
Consulting a lawyer regarding the legislation requirements and juridical restrictions of your app usage, may save you time, money and protect you from prosecution.
- You will know the sensitive and private data protection rules for users’ sensitive information storage and will use the appropriate technologies to implement the backend. Or,
- You will apply early-bird for the licenses and certificates to provide banking operations via the app.
Researching crossing industries is not only the way to build the board view on the topic. It also helps to find better solutions or user experience.
- When we researched the banking industry, we also studied investment apps, budgeting apps, expenses tracking apps, digital wallets, and… dating apps. We analyzed features that users like, and vice versa, which of them were not convenient in use to avoid common mistakes. As for dating apps, they have innovative matching algorithms and cute UI solutions, like swiping. Why not supplement the banking app with common and appealing features to make it pleasant and intuitively transparent in use?
- Also, we researched the psychology of money. Knowing how people spend money, what are their habits, what patterns are applied, help us to choose and prioritize features of our app. We can better understand our user’s demands and even educate them.
When you know the field, you can create promotional and marketing strategies to enter the market. Pay attention to the relevance of your marketing activities and the current development stage. As well as determine efforts and channel to attract people to use your app.
In other words, to go beyond the average app, you should research what is available in the middle pretty good.
Create an image and establish your voice
The research stage usually proceeds with branding and naming. We recommend an app owner to put his heart into creating a name, style, image, and establishing the voice of a future app.
If you outsource this part, work as close with your vendor as you can. People have different experience and background, what is evident for you may seem not so clear for your surrounding.
- Communicate your vision in details, describe it in several ways.
- Be patient to ask and answer questions.
- Listen to suggestions and evaluate them carefully before accepting or rejecting.
- As soon as there will be a lot of people engaged in further app design and development, create documents of your brand identity. Put them as clear and straightforward as you can. Establish and describe the voice of your brand, write the style guide, design style scapes.
- Create several styles to have a choice and options. Design various concepts to try on different styles with your idea.
- Don’t be a blocker or stubborn. Explain to people what do you mean, and try to understand why you are offered this or that solution.
- There is a common mistake when visual elements do not match the naming or user expectations about the industry. The same is right for colors. Some are better for banks. The others are correlated with different spheres.
- Be distinct. Define your approach to design, whether you follow trends or an appointed decision maker. Assign a skilled professional to make decisions about design. Non-experts’ opinion is not that valuable because it may be limited by the lack of background, information, or experience.
- Don’t test design on your friends and relatives only. They may not be your target audience, and they may not tell you their contrary opinion in order not to offend your feelings.
- If a designer offers you a logo that fits aims, strikes the target audience, meets trends but you don’t like it personally, give this logo a chance. Test that logo with the help of a focus group. If you know how to improve this version articulate the reasons for updates. Tests on the real market are an effective method of app evaluation.
- When you design a banking app, you will use strict, straight lines rather than curves. The bank is dealing with money transactions. It should associate in people’s mind with something material, trustworthy, and reliable. Curves express spiritual, creative, and mental concepts. Kids’ drawings are not suitable for digital banks unless you are creating a banking app for kids.
- If you have only one design and it fails to attract real users, you will need to go through the entire design stage once more. If you create multiple concepts, you will have more options to appeal to. Let the first concept be colorful, the second — black-and-grey, the third — light and minimalistic.
At this stage, you will sketch your app: a wireframe, UI screens, and UX. If you hire a service provider or work with new people, share with them style guidelines, brand identity documents, and your vision so that all the team could speak the same language.
List of contractors the app owner may hire
- Full cycle app development company to make a mere idea turn into an app.
- Marketing agency for brand creation, marketing, and promotional activities.
- Law firm to run contracts, licenses, and certificates.
- Design studio for brand and app visualization.
- App development company to code an app.
- App store optimization agency to make your app perform successfully in the App Stores.
- Customer support service provider to assist your users with app usage and gather issues.
Test, test again, and keep testing
The idea of the app, its name, and design need verification from real people. Under real people we mean the target audience, typical buyers personas, not your friends and family exclusively. If your app targets the real market, ask opinions of focus groups, advocates, and trend-setters in this field.
How to test the idea
- Landing page with integrated analytics.
- Waiting lists and Early-bird pre-orders.
- Mass mailing campaign with questionnaires.
- Prototyping and A/B testing.
If you listen to your focus groups carefully, you may check use cases as well. Further, you define their importance for potential app users and use this knowledge in your app.
Although you like the first hypothesis and design, it may happen that the initial idea will demand changes. It is not good or bad. It is the scientific approach to app development. Be flexible and responsive to users and market calls.
- Presenting your results to the focus groups, you should check whether all the functionality is obvious and clear for people. Or you need to explain some features.
- When you work with the community, it is essential to receive well-reasoned feedback. If people say they like something in your app, ask for reasons, their feeling, and details. The same is with negative opinions. Always ask about what you could do to make the app better.
- To make it right, you should collect feedbacks, arrange and analyze them, and set their status and priority.
- Evaluating your hypothesis, be aware of not falling into selling the future product to focus groups. It is not the right time for this. You need to listen to what people feel and say about your initial idea.
- On the other hand, you should not rush to change everything in your app to fit every feedback. Check the feedback, whether it represents the prevailing opinion, and matches your goals.
Controversial difference between MVP and MSP
After examining your ideas, you will generate the scope of features to implement your minimum viable and minimum sellable products (MVP and MSP). You choose the least number of features for your viable version of an app. And it may be a waiting-list app. While with the sellable app, it is your users who determine which features attract them to get the app. These versions may be identical. But sometimes to get revenue from the app, you will require investing in the development of your app more resources before release. Anyway, when you develop your MVP, test it again both — for relevant technical solutions and salability.
Your app features result from user expectations and market demands. You take pains and passions and turn them into functionality. You should also know and use trends as well. Data science, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) are trending technologies that you might require for your banking app.
Banking app features
- Saving money automatically
- Setting limits on cards
- Creating virtual cards
- Control of the budget and spendings
- Notifications and alerts on activities
- Instant receipts to share
- Locking the card if lost or stolen
- Person-to-person payments
- Quick access to the balance
- Communication with personal assistants (Customer service)
- Lower interests for transactions abroad
- Lower currency exchange rates
- Branch and ATM locator
- Personalized offers, and
- So forth.
- If we talk about the technical side of mobile apps for fintech, you should pay attention to the safety of payments and sensitive information collection and processing.
- As for salable features, keep an eye on the intuitive of UI, usability, and understandability of the complex finance data.
- Check whether it provides users with relevant experience and values.
- Don’t be afraid of changes. Be ready for discoveries. You may find out unexpected use cases or unforeseen salable features.
- If you need to release an app quickly, but your development stage is not completed, you may deliver an MVP with the waiting list. You may offer awards or discount for the first app users. Users can download your app, authorize and probably complete verification, and get to list of early birds. When you complete your development, they will receive an update. They will be first who will try the functionality.
The reverse of reliability and performance
You are ready for release. It is hard not to fall into temptation and not to let your app fly freely by itself. Before you launch the product, you should assure its quality. Your app should be robust and safe in use. It should not crash.
When it comes to app testing, the principles are the same as with idea verification. Try to cover your versions with as many types of testing and devices as you can do. Check for bugs in UX, UI, scenarios, end-to-end logic, app performance, the load on a server… You name it. If your app does not work as expected, you will not gain trust and money from users.
- Create test documentation and test cases. You need to know how the basic functionality of your app performs, and you need to have proofs of those facts.
- Test on real devices, on multiple models, and use plenty of them.
- Do load testing. Check how your app server will cope with a vast amount of requests, or with a million active users.
- Do unit testing.
- Do automation testing.
- Check the compatibility of app versions. Test how your updates affect the older versions of the app. Be sure users of the older versions will still have their app working.
- Do not skip testing. No matter how complicated is your app functionality, the app should work. Users won’t use the crashing applications, especially digital banks.
- Do not skip regression testing of the versions before release. If you do the minor updates or fixes, test them.
- Do not be lazy to test additional app features.
- Don’t ignore testing. Examine how secure and reliable is your solution. Test the app with core functionality.
- Stop adding ‘just a few, simple, minor changes’ the latest minutes before release. Keep balance. Best may be the enemy of the good. Your ‘tiny’ updates may crash the release version of the app, or influence the release date.
Let it go and release
It is time to submit your app to the app marketplaces and face reality. Usually, app owners warm the audience interest by marketing activities and social networks campaigns. It is not enough to merely release the app. People should know the app exists. It is an app owner job to engage people to download an app.
- Integrate analytics. You need to evaluate how people use your app, and you need not only comments but actual data as well.
- Reply to reviews on marketplaces to build trust.
- Choose the right time to launch your app.
- Release the app for all the platforms simultaneously. Let your iOS and Android users enjoy the functionality at the same time.
- Synchronize marketing activities with the launch.
- Don’t neglect the regression testing of the app before release.
- Do not forget about app store optimization, so that a user could find your app quickly.
- While planning a release, remember about the Apple Store review. You will need to wait with a bit.
- If you are launching the banking app which key functionality is the budget management, you can choose the start of a new year for a release. It is a time when people are setting goals for personal improvements.
- If your app has the tax calculator as a feature, you’d better launch it at the beginning of the tax year.
Lavish celebrations and life after release
If you imagine a big champaign party and ever-living money flow after your app release, go and pinch yourself, for you are dreaming. Your work will not stop after the release. You will be promoting your app. Implement digital marketing strategy, use social networks, your website, and other channels to attract new users.
People love to share their opinions. Provide users with the possibility to leave feedback about your product or service. You will create the background for updates.
- Have a big party and take some time for the rest. When you and your team step back from the pre-releasing mess, you will be able to stay motivated.
- Don’t just celebrate. Another area worth our efforts is the analysis of reviews, comments, statistics, and user behavior.
- We suggest you process not only technical issues but the user experience issues as well. Make the list of positive and negative feedback, estimate their relevance to your aim, and convert them into a to-do list for further improvements.
Pace on the way to perfection
When you listen to your users and the market, follow technological trends, and track your competitors’ achievements, you will have the food for thoughts about improvements. Knowing the environment, you may update your app correspondingly to offer an innovative product for an extended period.
With improvements, an app owner should apply the evaluation methods similar to feedback from focus groups. Arrange the data you have, analyze, and prioritize them. Before improving your app, try to match your business resources and the required scope of work. Big data and data analysis methods will help you there. For example, your app grows popular. But do you have a team to support a big-scale mobile application? Or does the potential benefit exceeds the expends?
- You should fix the bugs, that influence app performance and threat users’ experience.
- Fix your pre-release tech debts first.
- Leave a possibility to rollback, if something goes wrong with the updated version of your app.
- Don’t fail and have plan B for load performance issues. You consider your app becomes popular, have some extra load balancers to cope with users influx.
- Do not implement every single feedback. Test and verify if a comment worth your efforts.
- Be aware of your versions compatibility. Do not quit supporting older versions.
Beyond the average means to work effectively
We released not a single banking app, and we know that inspiration does not last long. To build a mythic castle of glass somebody should sweat blood and get one’s hands dirty. We know that from our experience. We stand for the data-driven approach and scheduled activities.
- If you want to create a valuable app, you should provide a reliable, innovative solution that addresses the customers’ pains.
- Be proactive, try to predict or foresee the outcome.
- Be ready to improve and face challenges.
- You should not go that path alone, bring a competent software solution partner to play in your team. We, at Dashdevs, are ready to bring your idea into the real app with you side by side.
Dashdevs recently have released a digital bank — Dozens. Our approach is to collaborate with clients as a technical partner. We do not merely provide development services, we guide an app owner throughout the app creation process. In the article above we mentioned some examples of our methods while working on fintech apps and this digital bank. You may take a closer look at Dozens and other Dashdevs successful projects on our website.