FEBRUARY 6, 2024
18 min read
Customers used to have to physically visit a bank during business hours to perform even the most basic banking tasks. Now, they can benefit from convenient mobile banking apps. The decision will naturally be based on how well the mobile app meets their needs.
More than 69% of banked households use mobile banking services as their primary method to access bank accounts. This means that mobile banking is predominant compared to conventional banking. The only question is: how to reap the benefits in the competitive and specific niche of mobile banking?
In this post, I’ll shed some light on the topic of mobile banking application development process. We’ll explore reasons to opt for creating an app, the scope of major app features, and the key steps to develop your best software solution for distributing services. The post also includes information on the tech stack as well as development challenges and solutions to them.
Why Build a Mobile Banking App?
The common vision is that business is about earning money. Yes, this philosophy is something that’s hard to argue against. While banking solutions for startups are the primary products, they enter the market with, for well-established companies, such software solutions provide a plethora of new business opportunities. Some of the reasons to get started with a branded mobile banking application include:
- Good ROI
Investing in a mobile banking app development can yield great returns. For businesses, this isn’t just about direct profits, but it also means saving on operational costs compared to sticking to traditional banking methods. The study by Fiserv reveals that through the adoption of mobile apps, banks obtain, on average, up to $2 million in incremental annual revenue and up to $38 million annually in incremental point-of-sale. The investment in developing the app pays off as more customers use the digital platform.
- Wider client base
By offering a mobile banking app, businesses can tap into a broader audience, reaching people far beyond the confines of physical locations and traditional banking hours. This can be especially advantageous for companies looking to expand their reach.
- Increased customer value
Beyond just banking transactions, mobile apps can offer a suite of services that enhance the customer’s banking experience. The convenience and array of features can lead to customers using more of a company’s services, thereby increasing their lifetime value to the business.
- Improved competitiveness
In today’s digital age, not having a mobile banking solution can put a business at a competitive disadvantage. An intuitive app can set a company apart, attracting more users and keeping them loyal in a market where digital convenience often trumps other considerations.
- Strengthened company brand
A branded mobile banking app sends a clear message. It positions the company as forward-thinking, innovative, and attuned to the needs of modern consumers. This not only attracts new customers but also instills trust and loyalty among existing ones.
- Increased number of communication channels
Mobile apps aren’t just transactional platforms. They’re communication hubs, enabling businesses to send personalized notifications, offer promotions, provide support, and gather feedback. This two-way communication strengthens the bond between businesses and their customers.
Mobile banking application development is an advantageous opportunity for fintech companies and even for some businesses majoring in another niche.
Types Of Mobile Banking Apps
Many refer to fully-fledged platforms providing a range of online banking services as simply mobile banking applications. However, there is a range of solutions tailored to serve particular needs or provide distinct financial services. Here are some of the common mobile banking app types, most of the functionality of which you can see in platforms or distinct software solutions:
- Retail online banking apps: Such software is intended to cater to individual consumers, allowing them to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and more. Most common banking apps belong to this category primarily.
- Business banking apps: Tailored for businesses, these apps manage payroll, business loans, and other corporate financial activities. Examples include Xero and QuickBooks.
- Mobile wallet apps: Store users’ payment information, like credit card details, and enable them to pay digitally. Apple Pay and Google Wallet are examples.
- Quick Reply (QR): You can check out items at physical stores with a mobile scanner QR code and make payments based on the generated list of items.
If you’re interested in learning how to create a digital wallet, explore our other blog post.
- Loan and credit management apps: These apps allow users to apply for loans, track their debt, and manage their credit scores. Popular software of this type are Qoins and DebtManager.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps: Allow users to send money directly to others, usually without a fee. Popular examples include Venmo and Cash App.
- Savings and budgeting apps: Help users track their spending, set budgets, and save money. Apps like Mint or YNAB are good examples.
- Cryptocurrency and blockchain banking apps: These allow users to buy, sell, and manage digital currencies. Examples here are Revolut and Nubank.
- Stock trading and investment apps: Provide platforms for users to invest in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. Robinhood and E*TRADE are some of the applications falling into this category.
More forms of financial services and, respectively, apps for providing them emerge on and off. Well-established businesses increasingly try to provide their customers with the most extensive functionality, ensuring that their solution is a one-stop for most of them.
What Are the Must-Have Features of a Banking App?
I believe that most business owners are considering the development of a fully-fledged app rather than a small, highly specialized solution. When researching top banks and analyzing applications they offer to install to access their products and services, we can spot a range of essential features, which include the following:
#1 Two-Factor Authentication and Biometric User Authentication
In an era of increasing digitalization and a high risk of cyber threats and fraudulent activities, the need for highly secured user access is non-negotiable. Aspects to think about when it comes to this matter include:
- Secured access: Two-factor authentication requires users to provide two distinct types of identification, such as a password and a unique code sent to their phone. It makes unauthorized access significantly harder.
- User-friendly access: Biometric methods like fingerprint or facial scans offer a personalized and rapid access solution, reducing the hassle of remembering complex passwords.
The usage of one of these methods, or, preferably, both, ensures that a user’s financial data remains guarded while still offering a smooth app experience.
You can discover more about Strong Customer Authentication in the light of the upcoming PSD3 from another our blog post.
#2 Account Overview, Setting, and Personalization
Having a comprehensive dashboard is essential for a banking app, aiming to be a one-stop for users. This feature allows users to swiftly review their finances, customize settings, and personalize their interface to match individual preferences and needs.
#3 Card Management
Card management helps utilize accounts and manage funds with ease, including:
- Real-time control: Options to block, unblock, or report cards.
- Tailored usage: Ability to set specific transaction or withdrawal limits.
Such a feature empowers users, fosters trust between them and financial institutions, and offers autonomy in financial management.
#4 Digital Wallet Integration
As the reliance on physical cash fades away, integrating digital wallets into online banking apps becomes common. By pairing with well-known platforms like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, internet banking apps cater to evolving user preferences, facilitating diverse payment choices.
The seamless, contactless transaction method underpins the relevance of digital wallets, which cater to a swift, sanitary, and safe payment experience.
#5 Fund Transfer
Naturally, users anticipate any mobile banking application to provide them with a broad spectrum of transfer options, from peer-to-peer exchanges to international remittances. Moreover, features that allow the scheduling of transfers, either recurrent or future-dated, greatly enhance user convenience, even enabling for advanced financial planning.
The inclusion of the listed fund transfer functionalities ensures the financial agility of a mobile application and lets users channel their funds as they request.
#6 Transaction History
A detailed transaction history allows users to review their spending patterns and bank account activity. This feature ensures:
- Easy finance tracking
- Transparency in finance managing
- Better budgeting decisions.
Not to mention that transaction history is a feature that complements card management, fund transfer, and other functionalities, and is an obligatory part of a mobile banking application.
#7 Loan and Credit Features
With integrated loan and credit features, users can apply for financial aid directly from their mobile devices. It simplifies the borrowing process, ensuring quick and hassle-free access to funds when needed.
#8 Currency Converter
An in-built currency converter enables banking apps to show real-time conversion rates, ensuring users are always informed. Besides, it enables the hassle-free exchange of currencies within the application.
#9 Round-Up Savings Tool
The principle behind a round-up savings tool is rounding up financial transactions to the nearest dollar. By channeling the difference into savings, users can accumulate savings subtly, making financial growth feel almost effortless.
#10 24/7 Support
Since banking isn’t confined to traditional working hours. Issues or questions can arise at any time, and immediate assistance becomes a necessity. With 24/7 support integrated into banking apps, users can find resolutions to their queries promptly. This not only builds trust but also enhances the overall user experience.
#11 Push Notifications and Account Usage Alerts
Push notifications and usage alerts not only keep users informed about their account balances but also alert them to suspicious activity. Such real-time alerts provide an extra layer of security, ensuring users’ peace of mind.
#12 Know Your Customer (KYC) process
The KYC standard enables financial institutions to:
- Establish customer identity
- Understand the nature of customers’ activities
- Qualify the source of funds
A streamlined KYC within the app ensures regulatory compliance while offering users a hassle-free onboarding experience.
#13 ATMs and Bank Branches Locator
Navigating a city can sometimes lead to the challenge of locating an ATM or a bank branch. An integrated locator within the app ensures users find the nearest ATM or branch effortlessly. By utilizing geolocation it guarantees quick access to physical banking services whenever needed.
#14 Feedback and Reviews
By embedding a feedback and review system within the app, banks can gain valuable insights directly from their users. It enables financial institutions to understand users’ perspectives, needs, and areas of discontent.
How to Create a Mobile Banking Application: Step-by-Step Guide
Now when you know why to opt for an app and can select its type and an approximate scope of features, let’s take a look a concrete online banking app development steps:
Step 1: Conduct market research and competitor analysis
In the fintech space, preparation is half the battle. The initial step requires from you the following actions:
- Conduct extensive market surveys to understand user needs
- Analyze competitor apps to identify common features and potential gaps
- Engage in user interviews to ascertain preferences and pain points
- Study market trends to anticipate future user demands
By mapping the competitive landscape and discerning user needs, you’re well-equipped to carve a unique niche. In case you don’t have in-house expertise, you will need business analyst services, and you’ll need to undergo a product discovery phase with a trusted development company to fully prepare for the next development steps.
Step 2: Define a Scope of Features and Build a Prototype.
Going with a prototype or an MVP prior to full-scale investment prevents costly mistakes in development process. Here you can be advised to:
- List down every essential functionality, from fund transfers to bank account settings
- Develop a preliminary prototype to visualize app flow
- Use feedback tools and beta testers to collect actionable user responses
- Reiterate the design based on the feedback to ensure optimal user experience
A robust prototype can help determine the weaknesses of the intended solution and can guide your project toward user satisfaction.
Step 3: Ensure Regulatory Compliance and Provide Security.
In banking, ensuring the best possible security of users’ sensitive information and their financial data isn’t just a priority — it’s mandatory. To achieve trust of customers and comply with GDPR, HIPPA, and other local standards and regulations, you should:
- Incorporate best-in-class encryption and authorization technologies to safeguard user data
- Engage cybersecurity experts to perform vulnerability assessments
- Update security mechanisms regularly, keeping abreast of emerging threats
Address the vulnerabilities of your banking app in the development stage, and don’t forget to make constant reviews and updates to protect your customers and your business from fraudulent activities.
Step 4: Design a User-Friendly UI/UX
In digital banking, the first thing people notice is how it looks. It’s important to have a clear and simple design that users can easily understand. Key features of a user-friendly UI/UX are:
- Intuitive navigation
- Consistent design elements
- Responsive and adaptive layouts
- Clear calls to action
- Accessibility for all users
The design should be consistent across all digital assets belonging to the app. Testing different designs can help pick the best one. It’s also important to make sure everyone can use the app easily. A smooth and easy-to-use app makes users happy and keeps them coming back.
Step 5: Choose a Tech Stack
The pillars of your app’s performance lie in technology. So, depending on the intended app type, you should utilize a particular scope of digital instruments. You can familiarize yourself with the tools, languages, and frameworks needed to create a native, hybrid, or web app in the below section.
Another bit of advice is to prioritize tools and libraries that foster rapid development and testing. Stick to the best development practices and strategize for scaling.
Step 6: Develop the App for Desired Platforms
While mobile app development process is a topic for another discussion, here are some tips to guide the creation process:
- Opt for native development for optimized platform-specific performance
- Ensure the application is responsive across various device sizes
- Utilize Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) for efficient updates
- Collaborate with cross-functional teams for consistent feedback during development
It’s worth mentioning that catering to both Android and iOS users maximizes reach and ensures a broader user base. So, it’s advisable to create an app that’s accessible to all users regardless of the operating system of their devices.
Step 7: Release and Maintain the App
Going live via app stores is just the beginning of the journey to success. Here are practices to incorporate on the release stage and beyond:
- Include feedback mechanisms and periodically review users’ responses
- Regularly monitor app performance metrics
- Resolve bugs promptly and release updates
An app’s longevity is determined by its post-launch maintenance, not in the last place.
Step 8: Improve and Update the App
The fintech space is fast-paced. So, staying static and not modernizing your newly released banking application isn’t an option. I can recommend you to:
- Identify and incorporate trending features in the banking sector
- Prioritize user-requested features for subsequent releases
- Ensure the app remains compatible with the latest OS versions and device hardware
Continuous improvement ensures the app remains relevant, competitive, and user-centric over time, regardless of the flow of trends.
Tech Stack Needed To Create a Mobile Banking Application
With the variety of devices, operational systems, and the ability to access web environments comes the need to adapt any software solution for all the potential needs. Here are the tech stacks needed for native, web, and hybrid banking mobile app development:
Tech Stack for a Native Mobile App
Native mobile app development involves creating apps for specific mobile operating systems, like Android or iOS, using their dedicated programming languages.
For an Android-based application, you’ll need the following:
- Programming languages: Java, Kotlin
- Toolkit: Android Studio, Android Developer Tools
- SDK: Android SDK
At the same time, iOS development will require the usage of:
- Programming languages: Swift, Objective-C
- Toolkit: Xcode
- SDK: iOS SDK
Native applications offer high performance and seamless integration with hardware.
Tech Stack for a Web Mobile App
Creating and maintaining websites using languages and frameworks optimized for the web.
The front-end side of banking mobile app development requires the usage of the following:
- Libraries: ReactJS, AngularJS, or VueJS
- Tools: Webpack, Babel
As for the back-end, it dictates the need to use these languages, frameworks, and databases:
- Languages/ frameworks: Node.js, Django, Ruby on Rails, Java Spring Boot
- Database: PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MySQL
Web applications aren’t specifically designed for mobile or desktop but can be accessed on any device with a web browser.
Tech Stack for a Hybrid Mobile App
Hybrid development implies designing apps using web technologies that run on multiple platforms, typically wrapped inside a native container. For this, you’ll need the following tech stack:
- Frameworks: React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, Cordova
- Tools: Expo (React Native), Flutter SDK
Hybrid apps use a shared codebase wrapped inside a native container, offering a balance between performance and versatility.
The Case of Chime: Becoming a Top UK Banking App by Using Mobile-First Approach
Chime, a financial technology company, disrupted traditional banking with its mobile-first approach. Chime prioritized the smartphone-savvy generation, crafting an intuitive app that blended cutting-edge fintech with user-friendly features. It positions itself as a completely online and super accessible financial solution for everyone.
By 2021, their user base skyrocketed to over 12 million customers. As a neobank, Chime doesn’t work like traditional financial institutions. By eliminating traditional banking pain points, such as overdraft fees, Chime saves its users over $240 million a year. No minimum balance requirements, no monthly service fees, easy deposit checks, and more — Chime has it all.
To showcase the business value of Chime’s experience, let’s take a look at this company’s growth. Being valued at about $1.5 billion in 2019, it reached more than $25 billion in 2021 and became profitable on an EBITDA basis. This success story shows that mobile banking is an intervention that’s both convenient for users and valuable for businesses.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile Banking Application?
Let’s get to know the cost-forming factors that will have the most impact on the number of working hours needed to handle the project and, respectively, on the end costs. They include the following:
- App complexity and features
- Complexity of design
- Platform (iOS, Android, or both)
- Variety of devices
- Location of the development team
- The need for integrations
- Security measures taken
- Compliance & regulations
- Testing and Quality Assurance (QA)
- Maintenance & updates
While not directly impacting the final project costs, a chosen payment model can significantly simplify the budgeting for banking app development. The options here are:
- Time & Material: A flexible pricing model where clients are billed based on actual work hours and incurred costs.
- Sprint-based pricing: Clients are charged for each development sprint, usually aligning with Agile methodologies.
- Fixed-Fee-for-Flexible-Scope (FFF): A hybrid model where the price remains constant, but the project scope can be adjusted.
- Fixed price: A straightforward model where the cost is predetermined, regardless of time or resources used.
Consulting with a potential vendor of development services will help you obtain a more accurate overview.
Building a Sustainable Mobile Banking App: Challenges and Solutions
Now, let’s review some of the common challenges that an owner of a mobile banking product may face and the solutions to them:
#1 Challenge: Data security breaches
With increasing cyber threats, safeguarding users’ financial data becomes a primary concern for banking apps.
Solution: Advanced encryption and multi-factor authentication
By deploying advanced encryption methods and requiring multiple authentications, apps can ensure data protection and significantly reduce breaches.
#2 Challenge: Regulatory compliance
The financial sector has to navigate a complex landscape of rules and regulations, ensuring that all services are compliant.
Solution: Regular audits and adherence to open banking standards
Frequent audits and adherence to globally recognized open banking standards ensure that services meet all legal requirements.
#3 Challenge: System downtimes
Interruptions in services can disrupt user experience and diminish trust.
Solution: Scalable cloud infrastructure
By investing in a scalable cloud infrastructure, banking apps can handle peak loads and maintain continuous operations.
#4 Challenge: User experience consistency
Ensuring a consistent experience across devices is essential for user satisfaction.
Solution: Cross-platform development frameworks
Leveraging frameworks that allow banking app development across different platforms ensures a unified experience, regardless of device.
#5 Challenge: Overloaded features
While features are essential, an overloaded app can confuse and deter users.
Solution: Minimalist design and user-centric features
Opting for a minimalist design and focusing on essential, user-centric features ensures an intuitive experience.
#6 Challenge: Fragmented third-party integrations
Seamless integration with third-party services is crucial for a holistic banking experience.
Solution: Utilization of standardized open APIs
Adopting standardized open APIs at the stage of banking app development ensures smoother integrations and enhanced functionality.
#7 Challenge: Poor customer support
Immediate assistance is essential in the finance world, and poor support can drive users away.
Solution: AI-driven Chatbots and 24/7 Virtual Assistants
By leveraging AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants, banking apps can provide round-the-clock assistance, ensuring user queries are addressed promptly.
Trends in Mobile Banking Software Development
Over the years, the fintech industry and mobile banking, in particular, have progressed toward the use of innovative technologies. Some of the trends in mobile banking, mostly focused on security or user experience, include the following:
- Open banking: This refers to the use of open APIs that enable third-party mobile banking app developers to create apps and services around the financial institution. As an example, Plaid banking API connects bank accounts to fintech apps, allowing seamless data sharing between financial apps and user bank accounts.
- AI and Machine Learning: AI algorithms analyze user behavior to offer personalized banking experiences. For instance, JPMorgan’s COIN uses AI to review legal documents and extract essential data points and clauses, significantly reducing manual effort.
- Blockchain technology: Blockchain provides a decentralized ledger for secure and transparent transactions. An example is Ripple, which offers a real-time payment system using blockchain technology that’s especially popular for cross-border transactions.
- Voice-activated banking: This allows users to manage their banking using voice commands through smart devices. Bank of America’s Erica is a voice-activated financial assistant that helps users with tasks like checking balances or scheduling payments.
- Chatbots and virtual assistants: These provide instant customer support without human intervention. For example, Wells Fargo’s chatbot on Facebook Messenger offers instant account information and helps answer queries.
- Personal finance management and finance health tools: Apps that help users manage their money better by analyzing their spending habits and offering savings tips. Mint is a popular app that aggregates all your financial data in one place, tracks spending patterns, and offers personalized budgeting advice.
- IoT integration: As devices get smarter, they can be linked to banking apps for seamless financial activities. An example is smart car systems integrated with banking, allowing for automatic toll or gas payments without manual input.
- Enhanced cybersecurity: With rising cyber threats, advanced security measures like biometrics and multi-factor authentication are being integrated. Many banking apps, like those from Chase or Citibank, now offer fingerprint or facial recognition for added security during login.
Fintech is a highly competitive niche. It dictates the need for businesses to stay on top of trends in order to thrive.
You may discover additional insights into banking trends in 2023 from another our post.
In essence, building a mobile banking app is an opportunity for new businesses to enter with market with either a specialized or an all-in-one fintech solution. At the same time, well-established companies can significantly enhance their position in the market with such an intervention. However, the matters of choosing the scope of features, high-quality development, and selecting the trusted vendor for handling all the technicalities are vital.
Partnering with the right provider of development services is half the battle. The DashDevs team of expert developers, designers, business analysts, and other specialists can help you get the most out of your investment in an innovative mobile banking solution.
Contact us today to discuss the opportunities for your business in the banking landscape. Let the leading provider of fintech development services contribute to your project’s success.