Natalie Monko Lead Project Manager

    How to Develop a Top Fintech App: Step-by-step Guide

    Safe financial transactions are pivotal in the global digital era. Consumers worldwide expect simple, fast, and secure processing of financial transactions. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of banking and payment app sessions worldwide by 26% on average in the first half of 2020.

    Banking and payment app session growth accelerating


    Moreover, according to the World Bank study, nearly all Fintech companies in 169 jurisdictions reported more substantial growth for the first half of 2020 than the same pre-pandemic period. On average, firms operating in payments, digital asset exchanges, wealth management, and savings have experienced a 13% growth in transaction numbers. Therefore, if you think about how to develop a Fintech app or how to build a personal finance app, it is a good time to start straight away. 

    Surf experts have developed several innovative Fintech products for Russia’s major banks. Based on our experience, we have prepared step-by-step instructions about starting a Fintech app from scratch, from choosing the niche to cost estimation. So, take a few minutes and have a read.

    Step 1: Get ideas about your business niche.

    Once you decide to get involved in FinTech app mobile development, it’s time to think about the right business niche. The digital world offers many opportunities for newcomers in the following Fintech development fields:

    • mobile banking, 
    • personal finance management, 
    • P2P payment solutions
    • investment and trading, 
    • digital wallets, 
    • blockchain apps, 
    • crowdfunding solutions, 
    • crypto exchange,
    • money transfer,
    • insure-tech,
    • financial decision making,
    • data analysis, and some other subcategories of the market.
    Fintech business niches

    You can either improve the existing technologies or come up with new ideas. Also, you might enter an underdeveloped market in a country lacking proper Fintech solutions and bring some innovation there. Indeed, the World Bank study confirms that developing countries and emerging markets have experienced higher growth in Fintech app development than developed countries. In particular, while North Africa and the Middle East have shown up to 40% growth, North America saw only a 21% advance in 2020.

    Step 2: Make sure that your app meets legal requirements

    As a rule, Fintech apps are subject to strict legal regulations to avoid possible fraud and ensure consumer protection. Banks and large financial organizations process high volumes of personal financial data. Hence, the national regulators constantly expand their rules and review emerging threats, from cybercrime to global terrorism.

    Besides, each country has different privacy policies and compliance practices. The most common Fintech legal regulations include GDPRs (General Data Protection Regulation), ePrivacy agreements, and consumer privacy acts. Typical compliance practices list AML compliance (anti-money laundering), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), KYC compliance (know your customer), and digital signature certificate.

    Hence, you have to make sure that your Fintech app will fulfill the legal requirements and meet the compliance practices in the future.

    Step 3: Conduct proper market research. 

    Ensure that you have a crystal clear vision of the final result to be achieved by your prospective Fintech app. Answer the following questions:

    • What problems does your app help to resolve for potential users?
    • What must-have features should the app include?
    • Is your app user-oriented and competitive enough for the existing market?

    At this stage, you might need to cooperate with a business analyst and product manager. 

    Step 4: Pick up the right technology stack.

    There are several options to choose from for the technology stack, including writing a single code for both iOS and Android (cross-platform development), making separate apps for both iOS and Android (also known as native app development), or developing PWA (progressive web application). The choice of the technology stack determines the time and cost to develop a Fintech app. Here is a brief outline of possible technology stack options.

    • Native apps

    As a rule, native apps provide the top performance and the smoothest user experience. Building native apps requires following all technical and UX guides of a particular operating system. Such apps effortlessly utilize various sophisticated features like cameras and GPS. At the same time, building native apps remains the most time-consuming and expensive way of app development.

    • Cross-platform apps

    Cross-platform apps are developed on a single codebase, suitable for both iOS and Android. Building such apps requires less time and money, as well as smaller development teams. Cross-platform apps are excellent for MVPs. However, the majority of cross-platform frameworks tend to demonstrate slow animations combined with the unpredictable behavior of some interface elements. Only Flutter, a promising cross-platform technology by Google, has proven to be the exception. Thanks to its architectural decisions, the development process on Flutter is fast, and it is suitable for building quick prototypes and complex apps.

    While developing various Fintech products for the Russian market, Surf team has created the world’s second banking app written on Flutter. The company’s client has been Rosbank, from the top 3 of Russia’s most reliable banks based on Forbes. The bank wanted to implement a “smart bank” concept – an advanced client support center dealing with numerous banking issues, from taxes to daily bills.

    Cross-platform banking app for Societe Generale

    Source: Surf

    Together with the client, Surf experts have selected Flutter for its cost-efficiency, development speed, and smaller in-house team. Besides, Flutter has provided a serious advantage in terms of product upgrades in the long run. With the help of Surf experts, Rosbank has established its own Flutter development team and continues to upgrade the app on their own. 

    • Progressive web applications

    Progressive web applications (PWAs) are also developed on a single codebase. The ready-made app gets uploaded to the server without buying the Apple or Android app stores’ licenses. PWAs are fast to download and provide almost a native kind of experience. The significant drawbacks of PWAs include their lack of functionality, poorer UX, and inability to access app stores and technical options, such as Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication).

    Step 5: Estimate costs to build a Fintech app

    Building a Fintech app often requires substantial investment. Hiring a qualified team takes a lot of effort and accounts for the major expenses. Many factors influence the salaries of app developers, including skills, location, and project experience. The choice of the team pretty much depends on your budget. On average, the salaries remain the highest in the United States and the lowest in India.

    Cost of hiring app developers in different countries

    Source: Surf

    Step 6: Make sure your app is user-friendly

    Most customers have no clue about coding, yet they expect the app to be clear and simple to use. Excellent UI/UX is the next important thing for Fintech apps after security. Therefore, you have to make sure that a user can find all the necessary features on the dashboard, without tons of useless elements.

    Nevertheless, you don’t have to stuff up your prospective app with the maximum number of trendy features to create a top-notch Fintech product. It might be sufficient to study your competitors’ products and develop something cheaper, faster, and easy to handle. Still, there are some basic features to include in any Fintech app:

    • AI-powered chatbots

    Such bots improve the interaction with customers and provide users with immediate answers to typical questions 24/7. Thus, chatbots prevent the company’s call centers from being overloaded with calls and unread emails.

    AI-powered chatbots

    Source: Yodlee 

    • API integration

    API (Application programming interface) enables interaction between devices, applications, and data. API facilitates connectivity between programs and devices as well as delivers data. Once you establish a connection with other apps to exchange data, the product will receive additional functionality and possibly generate more revenue. API integration helps users check their account information, pay online with PayPal, or find the nearest ATM.

    API integration


    • Notifications

    As a rule, customers like staying informed about the app’s new features and special offers, or finding out how much money they spend. Hence, you might want to add notifications to your app to provide a personalized user experience and increase customer loyalty.

    Push notifications


    • QR codes and scanning

    QR scanning helps to handle money operations error-free and avoid time spent on entering the credit card digits. All users have to do is to open their cameras and place them towards the QR code. At present, there are already many banking apps that process QR codes to enable instant payments and bank transfers.


    • Security 

    Since Fintech apps manage customer’s most sensitive data, security features remain the main priority. Data leakages and storage issues, phishing, and weak encryptions remain the most frequent vulnerabilities discovered in the new Fintech apps.  

    The best security practices include multi-step approval for significant activities, complex passwords, 2-way authentication, blocking suspicious transactions, and keeping a log of user performance. In addition, developers have to ensure that the app restricts failed login attempts and displays only three last digits of a card number.

    Step 7: Create a minimum viable product

    A minimum viable product (MVP) is a simple version of the app, which includes only fundamental features and components. Still, MVP is sufficient to collect feedback from users and prospective investors. Besides, an MVP helps to detect weaknesses and determine the features to be added in further updates. Once you receive reviews on the minimum viable product, you can move on to developing a full-scale version of the app.

    Bottom Line

    Let’s recap the major steps and Fintech app development challenges: 

    • Thinking about how to build a personal finance app or any kind of a Fintech app? The recent market research indeed confirms that this is a good idea, especially in the post-COVID times.
    • People tend to spend more time in banking and payment apps. Besides, many markets still lack efficient Fintech solutions worldwide. 
    • At the same time, building a finance app remains more challenging due to high-security requirements and compliances. It takes additional time and cost to take care of the relevant legal procedures.
    • Finding efficient Fintech app development services makes up another major challenge. You might select between native and cross-platform technology stack or go for progressive web integrations. It all depends on your particular project. 
    • Development costs vary according to several factors, including location, skills, and experience of the prospective team members.
    • It is essential to create a user-friendly and secure Fintech app with advanced security features.
    • Do not rush into developing a full-scale Fintech app. First, produce a minimum viable product to receive user feedback.

    We at Surf have developed apps for more than 10 years. We have created multiple projects on Flutter for banks, digital services, shops, and restaurants. Ready to take your Fintech idea to a real thing?  Contact our team to get help with your project.