The world becomes more user-friendly with the digitization of financial processes, integration of AI technologies, smarter use of data analytics, and the faster pace of innovations. People are proactively giving preference to these advances over traditional services. With the growing number of transactions migrating to digital channels, more and more businesses launch their digital-only banking apps where they leverage mobile technologies to provide investing, lending, or other specific services. Meanwhile, the promising market for fintech software solutions that help individuals better their financial lives is still significant.
Fintech Investment as an Alternative Monetization Model?
The financial modernization attracts not only clients, entrepreneurs, and institutions but also private equity companies and venture capital investors that are scouting out promising startups to invest in. There are many inspiring examples of top fintech startups in the US and UK that have grown into billion-dollar companies, and Stripe fintech company with $22.5 billion valuations is the most impressive so far.
After the latest funding round, Monzo is valued at over $2.5 billion, Revolut — $1.7 bln, while N26 reached $3.5 billion and turned into the most valued fintech startup. But do this vigorous growth and massive investments mean profitability? Recently the N26 executive stated that profitability isn’t their “core metric.” Most financial technology startups spend heavily on marketing and user acquisition, putting profits aside and depending on quick customer growth to continue. But in times of strong competition, how reliable is this startup business model? Together with DashDevs fintech consultants, we’ve decided to share our extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in the financial technology niche and discuss how fintechs make money and what is the best way to monetize an app and make your business viable.
Types of Fintech Companies: Major Functional Domains of Financial Technology Startups
- Budgeting, planning, and money management — personal finance management is one of the most used fintech services. Today people can easily and efficiently monitor their income and spendings, keep track of their monthly payments, and plan out their budget via their mobile devices. Now there are many fintech products like Mint, Personal Capital, goHenry that make budgeting and saving easier. Additionally, there are solutions like Dozens, N26 and Centralway Numbrs that, except for planning, also offer payments, withdrawals, and other features of digital banking apps.
- Crowdfunding — marketplaces like Seedrs, Funding Circle, Kickstarter, and Patreon enable individuals to send and raise funds from other users, as well as pool capital from a number of sources all in one place.
- Cryptocurrencies — exchange platforms like Bitcoin.de, Coinbase, and Gemini connect customers for buying and selling various cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or litecoin. Except for peer-to-peer marketplaces, there are companies like Xapo that offer bitcoin wallets and bitcoin-based debit cards.
- Insurance — insurtech startups like Coverfox, Friendsurance, BIMA, and Metromile apply Data Science, IoT, and other digital solutions to disrupt the global insurance industry and offer better user experiences. Their services may include everything from car or bike to health assurance done in just a few hours.
- Lending and financing — online moneylending is one of the key trends in fintech mobile app development. These days, individuals no longer need to turn to banks or credit unions, as they can apply for a loan online and gain approval quickly. Such fintech lending providers as Avant, Kabbage, and Borrowell robotize the underwriting process and assess your creditworthiness in no time.
- Payment and money transfer — companies like TransferWise, PayPal, or Venmo empower individuals to make domestic and international payments online or on the go using their mobile devices. Banks usually charge a hefty fee for simple p2p transfers, while fintech firms perform those operations promptly and cost-efficiently. Digital payments are quite literally the largest branch of the financial technology market and adopting progressive technologies like blockchain, fingerprints, or chatbots, fintech startups seek to shape up the money transfer industry well and truly.
- Robo-advising and stock trading — this type of service is reasonably called one of the biggest innovations in the financial technology field. Robo-advising offers algorithm-driven recommendations for more efficient asset management at lower costs. While stock-trading applications empower users to buy and sell stocks with only a few clicks. Talking about examples of asset management fintech apps, it’s worth mentioning eToro, Robinhood, Acorns, Wealthfront, Vanguard, and Charles Schwab.
Needless to say, these are just the main categories in the financial technology market and some of the biggest fintech companies mentioned as examples. Many companies implement features from different software groups to offer better financial experiences to consumers and businesses alike. For instance, The DashDevs team has built Dozens from scratch — one of the best fintech apps in the UK that offers smart budgeting as its main feature; however, beyond that, it provides detailed spend analysis, domestic and international transfers, risk assessment and investment management, and advanced security measures in one powerful app.
The Introduction to Fintech App Monetization Models: Payers
When deciding to monetize new fintech solutions or services, your first question should be: who will pay? To provide you with an overview of options, we’ve analyzed popular financial technology firms and created three primary categories of payers that software solutions rely on:
#1 Consumers (examples: Digit, MoneyLion, Truebill)
Users pay for the value that they gain from the application. For instance, Digit clients pay a monthly subscription fee ($5) after a 30-day free trial. Except for membership, MoneyLion also gets revenue from its partnership with TransUnion and Equifax, offering customers related credit monitoring services. The Truebill team helps you lower your bills and charge a 40 percent fee of your savings.
#2 Third-party sellers (examples: Credit Karma, Intuit Mint)
External sellers pay for referrals and/or advertising. Credit Karma generates income from its financial advertising partners. The company utilizes algorithms to select and show relevant ads to its 100 million members all over the world and get paid when you follow these recommendations. Mint combines several app monetization ideas, as it also gets profit from premium subscriptions (credit monitoring service) and referrals. Additionally, it sells advertising space, and displays targeted ads based on your search history or profile.
#3 Third-party beneficiaries (examples: Chime, Intuit Mint)
The use of a fintech app itself generates direct (monetary) and indirect value for outside organizations. When Chime customers pay for purchases with Visa®️ Debit Card, the latter charges an interchange fee (IRF) from the trader and later pays a part to Chime. Mint raises revenue collecting and selling anonymized consumer data to merchants or other outside organizations, providing them with access to real insights.
Nowadays, the ‘customer pays’ model is the most common software monetization strategy. Most stakeholders start with choosing one core app monetization program because creating a revenue model requires single-minded focus, thorough analysis, and constant tweaking. As fintech business matures and grows, entrepreneurs usually have more time and resources to build new revenue streams and extend app functionality.
How to Monetize an App: Different Business Models for Startups in the Fintech Industry
Opting for one or more software modernization models, keep in mind that your choice affects the entire fintech product development process, as well as on the promotion strategy and customer service.
Fintech revenue models can be divided into four categories:
#1 Fee schedule — it’s one of the most straightforward ways to monetize web apps and mobile solutions. Payment schedules vary, depending on the regularity of charges and can be transactional or subscription. With a transactional approach, users pay a fee only when they actually use a service, while with a subscription model, a fixed commission is charged per unit of time.
- Example: Most money transfer firms utilize a transactional payment schedule and withdraw commissions for every fund transfer or currency conversion. TransferWise and Payoneer can charge from 1% to 3%, while such services as WorldRemit charge a flat fee depending on the recipient country, and in most cases, it’s $3.99.
- Example: Qapital is a personal money management tool that implements gamification principles to help people save money. The company offers a 30-day trial and three subscription options with monthly fixed fees.
#2 In-app advertising and referrals — users don’t necessarily need to pay with money to use your services. As an alternative, business owners can implement a so-called fintech p2p marketplace and capitalize on the products by offering customers' attention or data to advertisers and business partners. Moreover, some companies turn customers into lead generators, motivating them to invite friends or relatives, and get bonuses.
- Example: NerdWallet is a fintech consulting tool that offers unbiased advice, expert information, and useful tools to help individuals make smarter financial decisions. The company gets compensation from its partners as it reviews and promotes their services and products to NerdWallet customers.
- Example: Robinhood is a stock-trading tool that promotes investing and helps individuals make their money work even harder. The company has a successful referral program that encourages customers to invite their friends and rewards them with up to $500 in free stocks when invitee joins the platform.
#3 Business collaboration — today even the fastest-growing fintech companies partner with traditional financial institutions or neighboring vendors, thus expanding the range of services and providing additional value to their customers.
- Example: Coinbase is a marketplace for buying, selling, and storing cryptocurrency with over 30 million users. The firm has a partnership with large companies such as Expedia, Time, Overstock, Dell, and others, empowering them to accept bitcoin payments. Additionally, Coinbase has enabled bitcoin payment processing functionality for Braintree, Stripe, and PayPal.
#4 API as a product — application programming interface (API) is the best way to access necessary functionality without the need to invest in a costly and time-consuming development. In fact, API users send requests to some services, and these services get back with responses. With the recent introduction of open banking, the process becomes more complicated, as European banks are now required to provide API at no charge, so they have to develop both free and paid APIs to embrace this business model.
- Example: Speedly is a payment platform with a primary focus on e-commerce. It offers an API that enables online stores to connect to several payment services at once. The company charges a fixed commission for API use monthly and also fines from 1 to 5 cents for every API call, depending on the business plan.
For fintech stakeholders exploring revenue sources, a wide variety of opportunities is available, no matter if you decide to monetize your app with ads or continuously ask yourself ‘how to monetize apps without ads.’ Choosing among these business models of fintech companies, it is critical not only to opt for the one that fits your overall strategy best but also to assume which ones could become viable after a while.
Seizing Fintech Opportunities: How to Make Your App Monetization Work
It could not be denied that different payer categories and revenue models will be more appropriate for various businesses, depending on a range of factors, like:
- what value is offered;
- who is the audience;
- what type of engagement the app generates.
To make it easier for fintech firms to reach out to their payers, we’ve prepared a short checklist to make the selected app monetization model achievable.
- Your solution brings enough value to provide users with clear economic benefits that exceed fees;
- The value can be easily characterized and communicated to customers, so they perceive it;
- Your software product is way better or cheaper as compared to the competitors, so it’s worth switching providers.
- External vendors and advertisers believe that your user base is well-qualified for their products;
- Your user base is rather large and engaged to outweigh the advertising or referral costs;
- You know your users well enough to create targeted offers, and they trust your source to proceed with your offerings.
- You can make it clear for the third parties that they gain sufficient benefits from customers using your app;
- You can explain causal relationships between your software users and the value obtained by third parties;
- Your consumer engagement is fairly high to generate material value for third parties.
These days, more and more entrepreneurs create digital products to offer “banking as a service” and take customer experience to the next level. They create fresh value propositions and adhere to the principles of “doing good” and “doing well.” Fintech startups make the most of cheaper digital operations, agile and brave innovation culture, customer-centered solutions, and the lack of legacy systems to help people manage their funds more productively, including how they make a living, spend, transfer, invest, borrow, or save.
Meaningful business monetization is no easy task, but with this research, we want to inspire business owners to create effective revenue streams and contribute to the growth of the financial services industry.
Wonder how DashDevs can help?
DashDevs can consult you on multiple fintech-related aspects and assist you with the proper implementation of the right app monetization strategy time- and cost-efficiently. We perform Fintech Consulting and Software Development services in the areas of technology and tool selection, security and compliance, domestic and international payments, card issuing, and general ledger systems, based on strong fintech domain knowledge, proven track record, and skilled fintech app developers and consultants. Click here for more information.