Thought Leadership
8 minutes

New fintech apps are appearing on the market every single day. With investments in fintech doubling in 2021, it's clear that banks and fintech companies are becoming direct competitors in the finance market. For customers, this competition brings interesting solutions to their problems and gives them a plethora of innovative apps to choose from. 

Due to open banking and the ever-present role of smartphones in everyone's daily lives, by developing a fintech app, companies can offer users a quick way to manage their money, without the need to ever visit a bank.

We understand that developing a fintech app is not an easy process, and in this guide we hope to share some of the insights we have gathered over our nearly two decades of experience in the fintech industry. 

Let’s start. 

Fintech Industry Overview

Understanding what fintech even is nowadays is not as easy as it once was. Today, it’s a term used to describe the companies that operate in the financial tech sector. Most of these companies are startups that develop innovative solutions for digital payments, big data, alternative finance, and financial management. 

According to the Business Research Company, the fintech market is expected to grow at a CAGR 9.2% to $158 billion by 2023, and continue to grow at the same pace into 2025.1 This growth is heavily influenced by increased investments in fintech startups, rising internet usage, and an increase in disposable income. 

The fintech market has grown so much in the past few years that 66.7% of bank executives believe that fintech will have a significant impact on mobile payments. We will see more than 65% of Americans using digital banking by the end of 2022.2 

Fintech ecosystem

Business Insider Intelligence

How to Define Fintech?

Fintech is a term that refers to the intersection between technology and finance. Any service that uses technology to manage money can be categorized as fintech, from budgeting apps, BNPL services, mobile payments, ATM cash withdrawals, and beyond.

The Fintech Market 

Since money is interconnected with everything we do, the fintech market covers many different aspects of people's lives. According to Statista, the market’s largest segment is Digital Payments, with a total transaction value of $ 8.56 billion in 2022.3 Within the same segment, the number of users is expected to grow and reach more than 5 billion by 2026.

The Number of Users of Services on Fintech Market

The Number of Users of Services on Fintech Market

Different markets for fintech applications: 

  • Payments and transactions
  • Personal finance
  • Neobanks
  • Trading and Investing
  • Insurance
  • Lending
  • Mortgage payments
  • Crypto-based transactions

Successful Fintech App Examples

When looking at the list of the most popular fintech apps, it’s clear that there’s a wide variety of success stories. However, some market players were able to get enough momentum to grow and start taking over revenue from traditional banks. 

Venmo is a very popular payment application that helps users split the cost of anything from a dinner to a plane ticket. It started as a fintech app for millennials because it is easy to use, works on iPhones and Android smartphones, and even has a chat feature for users. 

Robinhood is an investing fintech app that enables its users to invest without commissions. One of the latest features includes a savings account which makes the app even more interesting for young investors. 

MoneyLion is one of the biggest fintech apps in the US. It provides financial advice and access to loans as well as wealth management features. 

Chime is a quickly growing, mobile-only bank in the US. The application allows users to manage their spending without hidden transaction fees and offers automatic saving options. 

NuBank is a Brazil-based fintech app and one of the fastest-growing financial services on the market. The application is allowing users to track their spending, get real-time information about their cards, and even use Nubank rewards and points. 

Revolut started as a London-based startup that offered prepaid debit cards, but today it offers a cryptocurrency exchange, the possibility to send money in 29 currencies directly from a mobile account, and P2P payments. In just four years Revolut managed to gather over six million users and that number keeps growing. 

N26 is a fintech company that obtained a banking license that allows users to set up an account without any charges. The Germany-based company created a fintech app that offers instant money transfers with MoneyBeam and increased security, with facial and fingertip recognition.

Why Should You Develop a Fintech App?

Currently, users are already used to managing payments through their smartphones. For that reason, fintech apps are a low-maintenance and user-friendly way to manage transactions and send and receive money with just a few clicks. 

With more than 5 billion people owning smartphones around the world, apps are becoming an easy way to manage many aspects of modern life. Instead of going to a bank, users can receive and send money instantly, and when they need help, smart chatbots are there to give them answers. Additionally, since the COVID-19 pandemic, factors like restrictions, safety, and convenience influenced many people to be less inclined to go in-person to a bank.

Another reason why banks and financial institutions should develop fintech apps is to promote financial education. A 2019 report by the Financial Regulatory Authority, uncovered that financial literacy among Americans has decreased, more people than ever have some kind of debt, and half of all Americans feel like their personal finances are a source of stress.

Fintech applications could be key for people to understand how to manage their money and debts. Apps can help people get a better understanding of their spending habits and overall finance,and even provide them useful advice on how to save money. 

Choose Your Sub-Industry of Fintech

Fintech has developed into a market giant in the past few years. With more than 1.7 billion unbanked people worldwide, it has become clear that banking apps are the catalyst to help people get access to funds, remittances, and other services. 

With an abundance of trends and sub-niches they can cover, newcomers to the fintech market are slowly focusing on providing specific solutions to address different user needs. While some fintech apps focus solely on offering gift cards, remittance payments, and BNPL services, others are creating a multitude of services as part of one ‘super-app’.

UPC: Adding Buy Now Pay Later to Meet Consumer Demand
UPC: Adding Buy Now Pay Later to Meet Consumer Demand

If you are planning to develop a new fintech app or add a digital wallet or payments element to your existing platform, one of the first things you should consider is what niche or sub-industry you are interested in targeting, so you can focus on solving a specific problem for a group of users. 

Trying to solve everything and offering as many services as possible puts you in a tough position, as you will be competing with big companies. Instead, we advise our clients to find a particular problem of the industry to target.

Types of Fintech Apps 

Building software that responds to users’ needs requires a deep understanding of the industry and a unique perspective. There are many different paths a startup can take, and over the years, Softjourn has provided unique solutions to clients working on various fintech apps. Below, we have included the most common types of fintech apps we have helped to build and provide solutions for.

Mobile Banking

Mobile banking is usually the most popular type of fintech app for managing accounts, paying bills, and transferring funds. Most digital banking apps can be separated into two categories: digital-only and digital banking apps connected to brick-and-mortar banks. Both types of apps allow users to have 24/7 access to their money and include other services, such as:

  • Fast money transfers
  • Customer service
  • Access to account balances and spending trackers
  • QR payments
  • Biometric authentication
  • Bill Splitting
  • A savings manager
  • Integrations with Google Pay and Apple pay

Mobile Payments Processors

Digital payments is the largest category of applications in the fintech sector. Payment processing apps provide a quick way to manage payment transactions and make payments more accessible. Reputable payment processors are a key tool for any successful business since they enable instant transfers of funds from buyers to sellers as well as multiple payment options for customers. 

Payment processors can range from card swiping technologies that pair with apps, such as Square, or online payment platforms that allow for international transfers of different currencies. PayPal is currently one of the biggest processors in the world, and it offers some of the fastest cross-border transactions. 

Neobanks (Digital-Only Banks)

Digital-only banks, also known as neobanks, are changing the banking landscape by removing physical branches from banking operations. Instead, all services are conducted via desktop or mobile application. 

There are two types of digital banks: front-end neobanks and full-stack neobanks

While full-stack neobanks have banking licenses and the ability to cooperate independently, front-end neobanks need to partner with brick-and-mortar banks to provide their services to a variety of customers. 

Digital Only Banks Infographics

Expense Management Systems

Centralizing all expenses in one system is important for any type of business. Whether it is used for a small company or a large corporation, financial information is crucial for decision-making processes. 

Expense management applications are already finding their way to users since they enable companies to keep track of every dollar to visualize where money is going and how it can be better spent.

Digital Wallets

Digital wallets are one of the most used online payment tools. A digital wallet securely stores virtual versions of debit and credit cards as well as vaccine QR codes and other handy items. Different fintech apps use different types of wallets, but most of them fall within one of these three groups: open, semi-closed, or closed. 

Open wallets allow for fast online transactions, purchases, in-store payments, and cashback, while semi-closed and closed work only with specific retailers. 

Crypto wallets are emerging as a new type of digital wallet, as they store cryptocurrency passwords in one place. Unlike standard digital wallets, crypto wallets don’t hold any currency, but only codes to access crypto. 

Investment Fintech Apps

Investment apps are a great way for people to get into the stock market. They provide helpful analytics and financial data to ensure users have all the right tools for their personal investment management. 

Investment apps usually work like financial advisors and include an easy-to-use interface that allows users to follow different stocks. Furthermore, they often come with integrations for smartwatches and a variety of alerts to notify users of any changes within the market. 

Remittance Fintech Apps

Every day the demand for money transferring services grows. Remittance apps, also as money transferring, enable users from all over the world to move money with multi-bank and multi-currency options, with few restrictions. They also give users the ability to manage different types of transfers, follow the exchanged money, and they even support multiple currencies and languages to make foreign exchange easy and affordable.

Legal Requirements

Legal requirements for fintech apps vary greatly depending on the country, state, and even regions within a country. This is why it is so important to research the requirements needed before creating a fintech application. As previously mentioned, while some countries have a specific regulatory body for fintech companies, others regulate it on a case-to-case basis. 

Since governments still haven’t reached a consensus on how to deal with fintech companies on a global level, companies need to work with experts to navigate through all the complexities of financial standards, regulations, and laws per country. 

Choosing the Right Tech Stack for a Fintech App

Selecting the best tech stack for a fintech app is not always a simple decision. Some services you’d like to offer will require unique approaches, especially if your goal is to outperform competitors in the market. 

Some fintech apps are very particular and require specific technologies to ensure their success. Other times, a fresh twist on a popular app may allow you to select a simpler tech stack. It is crucial to consider what you are trying to build, weigh the pros and cons, and make a well-informed decision with the advice of a trusted expert

MVP Development of a Fintech App

A minimum viable product (MVP) is important for any fintech app because it is used to test the application before it is launched. Usually, the MVP is a version of the app with key functionality and which only includes basic features. 

Getting feedback from users is important, seeing as they will be the ones who you will try to market the app to. They should be able to provide suggestions for improvements and possible features to be included for ease of use. The most essential features of any fintech application are security, notifications, QR codes and scanning, and API integration. 

We recommend following the steps below to develop a successful fintech app:

  • Design wireframes
  • Create an MVP
  • Test the MVP with users and gather feedback
  • Produce the UI/UX of the app
  • Construct an app prototype using the UI
  • Verify the prototype and gather feedback
  • Make the app open for public

Must-Have Fintech App User Features

Fintech App Features

When you develop a fintech app, it is essential for it to have user-friendly features, so it will be well-received on the market. Make sure your app has the following features if you want it to succeed against the competition:

Security & Data Privacy. To satisfy both user safety needs and legal requirements, fintech apps must demonstrate strong security in protecting users’ data and financial information. To achieve this, a fintech developer can implement blockchain, encryption, biometric and two-factor authentication, data obfuscation, and other security measures.

Biometric Authentication. Not long ago, many users hesitated to use biometric authentication, but with it becoming a more commonplace way to log in and make payments, many users are feeling more comfortable with this technology. A Visa survey from 2021 found that 72% of U.S. consumers are interested in verifying their identity using fingerprint authentication, and 67% would like to use their fingerprint to make payments.

Payment Gateway Integration. Most fintech apps need payment functionality. Common services like Stripe, PayPal, Zelle, or bank APIs can be integrated to make payment convenient for users.

User-friendly UI/UX. An easy-to-use and attractive interface creates a smooth and intuitive experience for users. A simple UI/UX should feature a visual dashboard that offers users a high level of flexibility.

Streamlined Onboarding. A top reason that fintech apps lose users so quickly after installation is difficult onboarding processes. According to Statistica, after just the first day of installation, all financial service apps lose 77% of users. It is key to make sure your app’s onboarding process is simple and runs smoothly.

Fintech Apps After First Day of Installation Infographics

Data Analytics Integration. One of the main reasons why users download and use fintech apps is to analyze their financial data. With the right analytics plug-ins, users are sent customized reports of their financial transactions and the state of their finances. Most well-known fintech apps already take advantage of these integrations, so adopting data analytics will keep your app competitive.

Reward Programs. Reward campaigns are popular ways fintech apps employ users as their biggest promoters. Robinhood used a simple email referral campaign to bring over one million users before their app launched. Referral bonuses, sign-up freebies, and gamification are all excellent ways to draw in users to your app.

Multi-Tier Functionality. The ability to multi-tier functions allows your app to work seamlessly while running different sessions together. Multiple activities can be managed and tracked easily by users, which allows an app to be flexible and highly efficient.

Machine Learning & Smartbots. AI is no longer an innovative and extra functionality for fintech apps; it is a necessity. Fintech app users are growing used to highly-personalized experiences and their expectations are high, as 61% of mobile banking customers said they would switch banks if their bank offered a poor experience, according to Business Insider. 

Big fintech players, like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo use smartbot solutions to improve their customer services across many parts of their apps. For big finance companies, smart chatbots might be the answer to providing more personalized user experiences and thus bettering customer retention. 

What’s Next in User Features?

Voice Integration. Fintech services are beginning to introduce voice recognition as tools for two-way authentication, payments, and even for users to voice their concerns. Most frequently, fintech apps choose to utilize voice assistants, like Siri, Google, and Bixby for users to access the app without actually opening it. Some banks, like Santander, allow customers to conduct money transfers, inquire about transactions, and report stolen cards using voice recognition.

Crypto and Blockchain. Blockchain technology is rapidly emerging and could be a feature for some fintech apps to adopt. Issues like payment anomalies with vendors or cash flow administration are certainly prime for blockchain technology, and digital wallets and other bookkeeping methods can benefit from these solutions as well. 

That said, Blockchain may not be the right technology for every type of fintech app, and choosing this technology entails extensive research about the needs of your app and its users.

Top Features on the Admin Side

We often give a lot of thought to how an app will look on the user side, but we must also consider what functions administrators need to communicate with users, secure user safety, and accept payments.

 It is necessary for any fintech app to have an admin panel, which allows owners to manage the app’s data to power user-related functions, handle transactions, and track KPIs. An admin panel can also help companies gain valuable insights about users and utilize this data to identify problem areas, boost user conversion and retention rates, and increase the app’s quality. The most popular features for fintech companies on the admin side consist of the following:

  • Admin authentication with encryption
  • Secure hosting with multiple failover redundancy
  • Access to banking data and real-time transfers to an escrow account
  • A payment gateway
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
  • User Management (including extras like credit score checking)
  • User analytics and KPI trackers
  • Third-party integrations
  • Chatbox to communicate with users and provide support

Security Features

Fintech apps must demonstrate strong security to protect users’ data and financial information. Despite your best efforts, it is not possible to prevent 100% of cyberattacks and data breaches from hitting your app. Even large financial institutions like JPMorgan, Chase, and Equifax spend millions of dollars on cybersecurity.. However, it is within your power to protect users’ data to the best of your ability. To uphold your app to the highest level of security, we recommend the following: 

Two-Factor Authentication

To improve your app’s security and go beyond the basic authentication method that consists of having simply a username and a password, two-factor authentication (2FA) is used as a top solution. The most commonly used 2FA method is a one-time code via SMS or email sent to users to login. Another popular method that is widely used by fintech apps is a push notification that allows users to authenticate themselves with the push of a button.

How 2FA works

Tokenization

Tokenization is regarded as one of the safest methods of storing and transmitting sensitive user data. If there is a piece of information that you want protected, like a user’s credit card number, it can be replaced with a random chain of symbols (a token). Tokens are kept in a unique database called a ‘token vault,’ which is usually protected by database encryption to make the software secure. 

Token vaults store the connections between the original protected data and the generated token in an encrypted way where only authorized users can decrypt the original information into a readable format. 

To increase security, tokens are generated for temporary use to prevent the ability for someone to track sensitive data through transactions. Tokenization can be used with gift cards, NFC payments, online transactions, and can even make it easier to become PCI-compliant. 

PCI compliance

For all fintech apps that receive or process card payments, we highly recommend that they comply with the PCI DSS standard. PCI compliance entails a very rigorous process, which means additional work in implementing your security strategy in many aspects of your organization’s activity. To get an app system ready for an audit, you need experienced developers who specialize in financial security and anti-fraud measures. 

Positive outcomes associated with PCI compliance include identifying ongoing threats and vulnerabilities, avoiding data breaches, and gaining a certification that will put the company’s name in a reputable and stable position. However, the consequences of failing to comply with PCI DSS can consist of large fines, increased fees, and even the termination of the ability to process credit cards.

PCI DSS 12 Requirements

Activity logging and Payment Blocking

Fintech app owners should strive to log any user activity from every user at all times, monitor all transactions and stop hazardous ones. The app’s system should continuously record every user’s:

  • Transactions and other actions
  • User ID or account in the platform
  • IP address
  • Geolocation
  • Device data
  • Any other important information

These logs should be easily accessible during a potential ‘post-mortem analysis’ when an incident must be reviewed from all angles. Logs are crucial for properly conducting incident reports, which usually include the complete timeline, root cause analysis, and incident details.

It is also essential to have security precautions in place for stopping breaches, and a payment blocking feature is a good place to start. Payment blocking essentially halts any transaction that the system deems highly unusual or suspicious. Transactions can be rated as low, medium or high risk, through your own ranking system or in conjunction with a 3rd party’s system. In the case of a high-risk transaction, the system will decline the transaction and send an alert to inspect those log actions.

End-to-End Encryption

The FinTech industry has privacy standards with strict requirements for user data protection. One such requirement is the use of encryption to ensure data is protected against eavesdropping, data leaks, and data tampering.

End-to-End (E2E) Encryption is used to encrypt your users’ personal information, such as names, addresses, social security numbers, and their financial data, like credit card numbers and payment histories, as well as other sensitive information that users provide in your app.

3DS

Both businesses and consumers gain an extra layer of authentication with 3D Secure (3DS), which was developed by Visa in 2001. 3DS is a tool used to combat cyber threats involving card-related fraud, theft, and data breaches. 

3DS protects customers by verifying their identity before payment authorization to shield the card from unauthorized usage, by using a three-domain model. For business owners, 3DS transfers the liability of fraudulent transactions to issuers and helps them meet security regulations.

HSM

Using HSM (Hardware Security Module) for data encryption may be the safest and most reliable option to prevent and mitigate risks of fraud, plus it meets the data security requirements defined by PCI. HSM is used to encrypt sensitive cardholder data and minimize the impact of threats and fraud. 

An HSM is a device based on cryptographic hardware, responsible for the protection and security of sensitive information and critical assets. An HSM generates and stores cryptographic keys associated with digital certificates. The keys are used for encryption, decryption and authentication of digital signatures in operations used for fast and secure processing of information, such as online transactions and payments. 

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Fintech App?

The average cost of developing a fintech app varies greatly, depending on a broad range of factors, from the complexity of your app to your development team’s hourly rate. Generally, the starting cost for fintech app development is somewhere between $25,000 to $150,000. When shopping around for your app development, consider these factors that can drive up costs:

  • Do you have a finished UI/UX design?
  • Will it be a big and feature-rich app?
  • What mobile app platforms will you use (IOS, Android, Cross-platform)?
  • Do you need a web app or Backend API?
  • Will there be payment processing and recurring subscriptions?
  • Do you need bank-level encryption or HIPAA compliance?
  • How many basic API integrations do you expect (SMS, Calendly, Google Maps)?
  • Is machine learning part of your roadmap?
  • How will users sign up (email, Google authentication, Facebook)?
  • Will your app need ongoing maintenance and support?

How Softjourn Can Help You Build a Fintech App

To provide users with a reliable and fast app experience, your application should be developed using the latest programming languages, libraries, and frameworks. To position yourself well on the market, we recommend turning to a trusted software development partner. If you are looking to take the next step toward developing your fintech app - Softjourn is here to help. 

We have deep knowledge of the ins and outs of the financial software development industry and have been helping to make our clients’ ideas successful since 2001. Our R&D teams have expert knowledge and have been trusted for years by many top fintech companies. 

No matter where you are on your app development journey, we can help your project succeed. We would be happy to schedule a call with you and provide project time and cost estimates tailored to your project. 

1. Global Fintech Opportunities And Strategies Market Report TBRC
2. FinTech - Worldwide Statista
3. FinTech - Worldwide Statista