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    Payment App Development Challenges: 5 Solutions Delivered by Surf

    In recent years, we all have witnessed the fourth industrial revolution in full swing, and even more so in post pandemic times. Payments are also a part of Industry 4.0, and the future that awaits them is characterized by innovation, speed, and intensity.

    Whether your business is prepared or not, digital transformation has already found its way into our everyday lives, including payment for goods and services. Both B2C and B2B segments experience transition to non-cash transactions. According to Statista, the total transaction value in the Digital Payments segment is projected to reach US$8.50tn in 2022.

    Surf has been in web and mobile development for fintech, banking, and e-commerce since 2011, and we have implemented a lot of payment solutions in various projects. The article is to share the top five of the solutions that help overcome challenges of the payment app development.

    Payment app development challenges and how to solve them

    Payment apps let users make purchases and send and receive money with their mobile devices. This can be

    • digital wallets that allow users to store card details and make in-app, online, and in-person contactless purchases on mobile devices (Apple Pay, Google Pay),
    • money transfers and currency exchange apps (PayPal, WorldRemit, Wise),
    • P2P lending apps that offer personal loan options that can be useful  to consolidate debt, finance a large purchase, or cover an emergency expense (Prosper, Funding Circle), 
    • super apps which are the universal trend nowadays and offer a single portal for virtual products and services including payment options (WeChat, Alipay, eBay, Uber), and others.

    Whether a super app or a digital wallet app, there are some key challenges that payment app developers can face and should be aware of. 

    Learn more about our fintech experience from case studies
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    Ensuring payment app security

    The first thing payment app users need is protection: everyone wants to be sure their funds and sensitive information are safe and secure. To manage the information-related risks, financial service providers make corresponding arrangements at the technical, physical, and administrative levels. On their part, payment app developers apply various technical processes, tools, and testing (automated and manual) to protect app users from threats and avoid vulnerabilities.

    We at Surf know how to make secure payment apps and are ready to share some tips about how to ensure security of your mobile app in terms of development.

    On the mobile app side:

    • do not collect more data than you actually need for the mobile app to function;
    • store minimum customer data on the server, and do not store the data in the mobile app itself.

    On the backend side:

    • encrypt any sensitive information;
    • use prohibition of network traffic interception in the release build;
    • use SSL pinning;
    • do not store keys in the code;
    • be sure to obfuscate your code;
    • use proven third-party libraries;
    • use basic practices to prevent reverse engineering.

    There is another level to address security issues, and this is the way of improving financial literacy and educating users. This is a part of the Surf approach to creating finance apps for kids. Within our concept,  parents can supervise kids’ financial activities online, teach their children to behave responsibly in a game-like manner, and in general, be sure that their family financial data are secure.

    Maintaining payment apps compliance 

    Creating payment apps is subject to regulation and control. Ensuring compliance with the regulators’ requirements plays an essential role in ensuring privacy and security and mitigating main risks in the financial services area.

    To maintain compliance with the applicable requirements, businesses which implement payment options

    • Follow regulators’ requirements, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), US anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Payment Services Directive (PSD2), ISO 20022, and others, depending on their presence area and activities. Whereas, every country (or even state or region) can apply their own requirements.
    • Choose partners to integrate with already established finance institutions and companies that have relevant licenses and permissions. From this point of view, it is important to ensure both partners’ reliability and integration security.

    At Surf, we have implemented various integrations in various projects, including payment API integrations. One of our projects, an app for tech-savvy millennials for one of the first neobanks of Pakistan, was characterized with a great number of integrations with third-party services. The most crucial are I2C, a system that offers a basic set of features needed to carry out banking operations, such as creating a card, transferring funds, applying for a loan, etc., and IDWise, that allows to carry out remote onboarding in a banking app.

    Choosing techstack for payment app development

    Today, payment services providers need 100% availability and functioning of their digital as customers expect their transactions to be performed instantly in a couple of taps and be quickly checked and approved. From this point of view, businesses should be careful in choosing technologies to use for building a payment app.

    Techstack as a combination of technologies used to create and run a payment app, includes many elements such as frameworks, databases, front-end tools, back-end tools, and it starts with a programming language.

    At Surf, we often choose Dart for fintech apps. Dart is a programming language that is the basis of Flutter, a cross-platform framework. Flutter is a fast-growing open-source framework that allows building apps for iOS and Android with native look & feel and delivers high performance. Flutter banking apps are generally more secure than solutions built with other cross-platform frameworks like Xamarin, Ionic, and React Native. During compilation, a native library with a comprehensive structure and changing data formats is created. As a result, it’s difficult for hackers to use reverse engineering.

    We developed the first Flutter-powered banking app in Europe, integrated it with the legacy bank’s services, arranged seamless migration of the users, and helped the bank set up Flutter development in-house. Flutter allows reduced time to market and optimized costs as it is cheaper to maintain one Flutter development team than two native teams. From the technical perspective, Flutter apps are easier to test and debug due to a single code base and offer good maintainability and scalability.

    Designing user-friendly mobile payment experiences 

    We started the article with security as the most important factor to be considered when making payment apps. But security should not be ensured at the expense of a good user experience.

    Whether it is a super app or an m-commerce app with integrated payment options, the payment journey should be frictionless. For today users, on-line payments have already turned into part of the daily routine. Therefore, any complexities or confusing navigation may cause the business risks of losing customers. There are general best practices and guidelines checked in practice, as for example for Google Pay API that will help to avoid common mistakes. 

    But another thing to bear in mind is to make your UX match the specific demands and expectations of various target audiences and industries.

    Want to lay the sound foundation for your product? Check our design sprint offer.
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    Surf built native apps for the SBI project (Kotlin for Android and Swift for iOS). What was special about the project is that it focuses on a mobile app for family banking. So, the task was to encourage everyone in the family to use the app both due to the features offered (for example, shared access to bank accounts) and UI/UX solutions (easy to use and engaging both for kids and older family members). Customers enjoyed using the app: statistics showed that in the last six months, the number of new users has grown by 25%, while the number of monthly active users has grown by 27%.

    Highly competitive payment app development market

    At the background of rapid all-embracing digitisation and new technology solutions appearing with increasing frequency, payment service providers need to consider and implement cutting-edge solutions and personalize customer offerings to stay competitive. Nevertheless, looking for game-changing solutions, payment app developers should be well-aware of the difference between hype and solutions that do bring benefit to business.

    One of our banking projects was related to improving the already existing native app. The point was that the app design was outdated and users faced authorization and registration problems. Having discussed the project and checked the input data and goals set, together with the Client, we found out that it would be easier and cheaper to create a new Flutter app from scratch, laying a solid foundation for its further scaling  than alter the existing one. As a result, we developed a modern-looking and well-functioning app. Flutter helped us save 40% of the developers’ time and reduce time for testing and bug fixing due to implemented test automation and infrastructure for the automated tests. What is more, the code base can be used for the second bank that belongs to the same group. And the app can be efficiently scaled and developed further on.

    Summing things up

    Online payments have found their way into our lives and are here to stay. So, the payment service providers shall be ready to overcome all the challenges on the way to satisfied customers, such as increasing demand for new payment methods (various types of digital wallets, Buy Now Pay Later technology, voice solutions). But while implementing the new solutions, businesses should stay customer-centric, making a difference between products for tech-savvy Millennials and older consumers who are not ready for rapid changes.

    At Surf, we have successfully completed many payment-related projects for fintech, banking, e-commerce, and we are ready to offer new clients our cross-industrial experience and knowledge of specific features of various customer groups.