So You Want To Develop A Fintech App: Overview
Not long ago, when a person got paid for work, they were paid with an actual physical check that was handed to them from their employer, that they then had to go to the physical bank to deposit into their bank account.
If you went out to eat and split the bill with a friend, one of you had to give the other person cash money to cover what you owed.
When you paid your bills, you wrote a check that you had to physically send to a utility company every month through the mail.
People regularly balanced their checkbooks and budgeted in a physical ledger a manual spreadsheet.
Some people may still do these things, but for a majority of us, we now use technology to accomplish these financial tasks much more quickly and efficiently than before. Direct deposit has replaced physical paychecks. Mobile peer-to-peer payments have replaced the need for carrying cash to “split the bill.” Electronic bill payment has replaced writing monthly checks we send in the mail. And budgeting software has for the most part replaced manual budgeting. We can thank fintech for all of the convenience of these things (and much more).
Fintech, short for “finance technology,” is the coupling of financial initiatives with technological advancements. All activities directly connected to finances fit under the fintech umbrella: banking, lending, stocks, payments, personal finance, and even cryptocurrency. The fintech sector has exploded in the last 5-10 years, especially since 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the world as we knew it. Experts predict that fintech will be worth over $332 billion by 2028, putting it high up on the list of most monetarily valuable industries in the world.
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, since over 90% of us use at least one fintech app regularly to manage our day-to-day personal lives. And there are more amazing fintech ideas entering the race every year. But how exactly does a fintech app come into existence? In this article and the following three articles, we’ll be discussing the specifics on how to launch an app within the fintech sector.
An Overview of App Development
Apple’s App Store today has over 1.75 million apps available to iOS users. Although each app is unique and has varying levels of sophistication, there is a general process a person or team must go through in order to actually launch any app:
- Come Up With An Idea – with all apps, but especially those in fintech, the goal is to identify a problem and then come up with a solution. In what ways is banking, or lending, or investing, etc., difficult? How could it become easier? Who are your intended users/audience? The solutions you propose become the starting point of your fintech application.
- Design the Product – what specifically will your app do, and how? How will users experience your app? How will you keep information secure? What third party platforms do you need to integrate for the app to do what it’s supposed to do? How will you collect and analyze user data?
- Design the Interface and Start Coding – this step is where you create a model of what the app will look like and be capable of doing.
- Test your App – before launching anything, you need to be sure your app will do what it’s meant to do. Putting your app through rigorous testing will help ensure its viability, security, and overall legitimacy.
- Market it to your Intended Users and Send your App to App Stores – once your app becomes available on platforms where users download apps, you want people to use it. That requires marketing campaigns and strategies to get the word out to your intended audiences.
- Continue with Ongoing Maintenance and Improvements – apps require constant monitoring in order to keep up with the ever changing field of technology. In order to stay relevant and compatible with operating systems as well as to keep the app secure, you’ll need a process to continually evaluate how your app is doing and determine any changes that need to be made.
From start to finish, this process can take a long time; anywhere from 6-12 months long is a realistic range. It’s also important to know that developing a fintech app can be quite expensive, which is why start-ups go through different rounds of funding as they progress. The good news here is that in 2022 $75.2 billion went to global fintech funding, and even though funding has slowed down in Q4 of 2022 and Q1 of 2023, there are still lots of dollars people are willing to put toward new fintech ideas and platforms.
Two Ways of Testing
While the above steps are necessary for the successful development of any app, #4 is of particular importance when developing specifically a fintech app. Here’s why: all fintech apps revolve around integrating the financial information of their users; but financial information is highly sensitive information that needs to stay protected. If your app needs financial data to function (which it does), then you’ll need access to financial data in order to go through the steps of testing. So how exactly do you get the data necessary to run the tests you must run before launching your app?
There are two different types of data you can use to conduct testing: either made-up data in a simulated/sandbox environment, or authentic consumer-permissioned data through a secure, third-party platform. Let’s look a little bit closer at both of those options.
Some AI companies say they can provide data sets of financial data in order to run testing for your app, but the “data” they have isn’t actually real. In their simulated environment, the data is either made up entirely or synthesized from actual data but modified to keep it anonymous. These data sets are severely limited, since they aren’t composed of true data from real people. Sure, using synthetic data can help you identify obvious weaknesses in your app, but it won’t cover the whole range of data possibilities you may encounter when your app is actually live, which could lead to major problems later for you and your users.
The infinitely better option, then, is to engage authentic, live data from actual people for testing your app. Through a third party data platform, consumers can be recruited to give permission for their data to be accessed and utilized in testing processes for app development. Consumer-permissioned data gives diverse, robust information that is almost identical to the kind of financial data that will be integrated into your app once it’s live.
Using consumer-permissioned data for testing your app is better for everyone – as the developer, you get as close to real scenarios as possible in order to ensure your app is ready to go. As a consumer, you know that the fintech app you’re choosing to use is primed and ready to handle whatever financial data sources and scenarios that pertain to you as you use the app. It’s a no-brainer! Consumer-permissioned data is what you need to develop a successful fintech app.
This is the first installation of a four part series on how to develop a fintech app. Up next we’ll look more closely at integrating financial APIs into your app, and best practices for testing and launching.