During the last five years, the number of consumers who began using fintech solutions in their lives doubled each year, and the COVID-19 pandemic was another major driver for people to choose mobile banks over visits to offices and contactless payments instead of cash. The increased popularity of fintech makes the industry highly competitive — to succeed among competitors it is crucial to beat them in every possible aspect. And one of the most important aspects is a mobile app, which, in the absence of offices and bank branches, becomes the ‘face’ of a fintech company business.
We at Surf have been developing mobile apps for over 10 years, and one of the areas of our primary focus is fintech: recently, we’ve created apps for multiple banks and crypto exchange. If you’re starting a fintech company and want to build a mobile app for your customers, you have two main ways: set up an in-house development team or hire offshore developers. Read on to learn why outsourcing fintech development might be a better option in 2021, as we’ll review the benefits and drawbacks of this approach and give tips on how to hire the right fintech software development company.
Pros & cons of outsourcing
The concept of outsourcing development is based on the idea that, instead of creating a team of developers and hiring them as full-time employees, the whole development project can be handled by a specialized development company on a contract basis. Let’s see in what aspects fintech software outsourcing is better than setting up in-house development and what things require additional consideration.
The location where developers live defines their wages. For example, while the US or Canadian developers have hourly rates of $90-110, the developers from other regions, such as Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine), Asia (The Philippines, India), Southern America (Brazil, Argentina) have far lower rates, $18-40 per hour, while delivering the code of the same, if not higher, quality. In most cases, development teams can easily work remotely, updating their progress in platforms for team collaborations and conducting meetings with other departments via Zoom or Skype. So, if you’re starting a fintech company in the US, hiring fintech developers offshore can easily cut down development expenses by half. To learn more about the best countries to hire developers, read our dedicated article.
Working with a company that specializes in fintech software development services gives you access to the level of expertise in the latest solutions, which can be hardly achieved by in-house developers who get fewer projects to work on. An example of such technologies are trending cross-platform frameworks that let developers create apps for iOS and Android from one codebase with only minor adjustments. Despite slightly higher hourly rates, cross-platform development beats native in terms of the final price, because you’ll have to pay only one team of developers.
Being initially a developer of native mobile apps that run on Kotlin and Swift languages and a Google-certified development studio, Surf was an early adopter of Flutter cross-platform framework, which was released in 2017. Our app for a Bank corporate clients was the first banking app on Flutter in Europe. Choosing a cross-platform development framework not only saved a significant part of the client’s budget, but also provided higher security, since code in Dart language that is used in Flutter, is compiled into non-human readable code. This complicates the reverse rendering process and makes the app more secure than solutions written on Java, Kotlin or React Native.
Focus on the core business
Being a fintech company, your core business is providing financial services to individuals and corporate clients, not developing apps. So why suffer extra costs of setting up your own development department, spending on HR processes and getting additional managers on board? Also, after developing the initial version of the app, there likely won’t be tasks for some of the developers at all, and if there are full-time employees, you’ll have to keep them on board until another major project, or have them leave the company. With outsourcing development you won’t have such problems: you only pay for the work done and all hiring and management is handled by the development company.
Easy project transfer
When working on a client’s project, a professional development team always keeps in mind that, in the future, the project might be handed to another team, so they aim to make the project’s internal structure, code and other features easily understandable by other developers. The usage of widely recognized practices and highly detailed documentation eliminates the risk, common for in-house development: when an initial team develops an app without proper documentation, for example, and leaves the project, the newcomers would have a hard time understanding and learning how everything works.
In its projects, Surf uses the architecture standard for the industry, each element is well-documented, and we use renowned solutions in every aspect of development. For example, we write autotests in Gherkin, an easy-to-understand language among testers. This allows a seamless transition of a project to an in-house team at any stage of the development.
Despite many benefits, working with a remote team of fintech software developers has its few pitfalls, and one of them is less control over the working process, compared to in-house development. Because developers are employed and managed by another company, your management might have an unclear picture of their roles and responsibilities, working terms and conditions. As a consequence, this can slow down the development progress and negatively impact its quality. Usually, the primary cause of the loss of control is poorly established communication. To avoid this, set up a plan of meetings, templates for reports, and choose team members responsible for reporting and overseeing the development process right from the start.
It is quite obvious that in-house employees share the core values of your business and understand its needs better than external contractors. After all, they specifically chose your company to work for. In the case of outsourcing, fintech developers might have a lower level of engagement in your project, which can result in poorer quality. The antidote here is to choose a fintech software development company with a proven track record, good references from their former clients and a mindset similar to that of your company. One of the popular resources for client reviews on software developers is Clutch.co — check out Surf’s page on the platform.
How to outsource developers like a pro
If you decide to outsource the development of your fintech app, there are several aspects worth paying extra attention to. In this section, we’ll go briefly over what things to consider when choosing a provider of fintech app development services.
Every type of app requires particular experience and knowledge, and this is especially true regarding fintech software. Financial apps need to work as smoothly as possible, processing users’ input without delays — if a trader can’t sell stock in time and loses money because their investing app freezes, would they continue using the app? We doubt so. And since apps became the main (often the only one) way for banks and brokerage firms to interact with their customers, a poor app experience often makes customers go to competitors. So, if you want to outsource the development of your fintech app, we’d recommend choosing a partner with experience and a portfolio of relevant projects.
Over the last few years, Surf has built several fintech apps, including Twim cryptocurrency trading app. While working on the Twim app, we paid special attention to quote charts and how quickly they update. To be suitable for frequent investors and day traders, the quotes should be accurate and display real-time data. We used the library by TradingView, the most popular platform for financial data visualization, and implemented native wrappers on Swift and Kotlin for the charts to be correctly displayed on iOS and Android devices. In the end, the combination of high-performance Remote Procedure Call (gRPC), HTTP/2 protocol and Protocol Buffers enabled us to update quotes up to 20 times per second.
Same values and culture
Hiring an offshore development team from another region, you might encounter a problem hardly possible with in-house employees — the working process speed and quality drops because of a cultural differences and approach to work. The problem of cross-cultural difference is often intensified by time zone differences: since conference calls or instant messages are not convenient, the communication is conducted via email. This can lead to your project manager losing control of the team, not getting prompt project updates and other problems.
If you’re a US company or startup, we’d recommend looking for a development team in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Russia or Ukraine. Along with comfortable hourly rates and good coding skills, developers from these countries have a working culture similar to that of their colleagues in the US and high English proficiency, meaning your project is less likely to suffer from misunderstandings and missed deadlines.
Since banking is a leading industry in terms of annual losses from cybercrime, the tight security of your fintech app is paramount. There are many types of cyberattacks on mobile apps, the most common of them are infrastructure breaches, pirate apps, man-in-the-middle attacks and clickjacking. The reasons why these attacks succeed vary from code quality and insufficient use of cryptography to insecure authentication, data storage or integration. For more insights on common banking app security issues read our dedicated article.
When choosing an external developer for your project, pay attention to what security solutions were implemented in their previous projects. Here is a list of must-have security features for any fintech app:
- Every connection is HTTPS and SSL secure.
- Two-factor authentication with single-use codes received via SMS or e-mail.
- Masking of money figures on app screens from onlookers.
- A feature that enables a user to wipe data if their phone gets lost or stolen.
At Surf, we know that security is the cornerstone of fintech and always use the best security solutions to protect the sensitive data of app users.
To avoid hidden costs and unexpected delays, when outsourcing app development it is important to keep the workflow as transparent as possible. Of course, choosing a developer with good references helps, but do not forget to sign a service level agreement (SLA) before getting down to business.
The SLA should cover in detail: deadlines of every development stage, acceptable downtime periods, data management & recovery processes, action plan in case of emergency or disaster. Another tip is to use proven project management and test tracking tools, such as Asana, Jira, Trello and others.
As the fintech industry sees rapid growth, and more and more finance companies adopt a “mobile-first” approach, the demand for quality fintech app developers increases as well. By outsourcing app development you can get the best talent for your project at affordable prices. Also, hiring an external contractor saves your management and HR department from a considerable set of problems.
The key aspects to look out for in potential contractors are relevant expertise in fintech development, same values and working culture, as well as usage of the latest technologies. We at Surf have been developing mobile apps for more than a decade and have done multiple fintech projects, such as mobile apps for banks and cryptocurrency trading platform. If you want to develop a fintech app and have your app idea properly estimated, fill in the form, and we’ll contact you shortly.