Natalie Monko Lead Project Manager

    Wallet App Development: How to Create a Digital Wallet and How Much It Costs

    The demand for digital wallet app development increases — at least 53% of Americans use such online services as their preferred money management method. 60% of people are comfortable leaving their house without wallets, only carrying their phones. The digital wallet market is growing at 20% annually, and there’s a clear upward trend compared to previous years.

    Still, the fact is that 8 out of 10 users do not know about the types of wallets and hardly understand which option suits them best. They search for the most convenient payment applications, alternatives to banks, and personalized apps with new features, so your new product surely can find its audience.
    We’ll explain the digital wallet development process for those who decided to build their own app. You will learn about types of digital wallets, their core features, as well as how much the development costs.

    We develop Fintech apps tailored to your project in 6–9 months.

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    Why do financial companies need digital wallet development

    Let’s learn why digital wallet app development is on the rise. A financial service provider needs mobile wallet application development for four main reasons:

    1. Offering a mobile wallet solution gives financial firms a competitive edge in the market. It demonstrates their commitment to digital transformation, which enhances customer loyalty.
    2. Mobile wallet app development helps reach unbanked customers who may not have access to traditional banking services for some reason. This allows financial companies to expand their customer base.
    3. Mobile wallet application development allows you to generate additional revenue through features like in-app purchases, loyalty programs, and partnerships with merchants.
    4. Digital wallets provide access to valuable customer data and usage insights that help companies optimize product development and marketing strategies.

    Understanding types of wallet apps

    Payment applications are grouped into categories based on the type of payment technologies and transactions they support.

    Purely digital wallets. Wallets, like Google Pay, are focused solely on online payments. Some apps in this category, such as Cash App, Circle Pay, or Zelle, also support peer-to-peer money transfers — they allow sending money to contacts by simply entering a phone number or email.

    Using Google Pay app

    Combined wallets. Apps that combine several delivery technologies are getting more and more common, providing a solution for both online and offline transactions in one application. For example, a major fintech player, PayPal, lets users set up QR-codes to accept payments.

    Another classification of digital wallets is based on types of transactions they support.

    Closed wallet apps allow users to make purchases only within the ecosystem of this e-wallet app development company. For example, Walmart Pay app works in Walmart stores, but users can’t use it to shop at Target, or Whole Foods. Companies usually create closed wallets to improve the checkout experience.

    Scanning QR-code with Walmart Pay app

    Half-closed wallet apps, such as Amazon Pay, allow users to make transactions with a group of companies or individuals that are parts of a network.

    Open e-wallet apps, for example, Samsung Wallet, allow users to pay in any store that accepts credit cards or checkout on websites that support this app. Usually, users can also send money to those who also use this app.

    E-wallet app features and technologies

    The features you choose largely depend on the type of wallet application you plan to build. Let’s look at the main features of an e-wallet and technologies behind them.

    Frontend features

    These functions are exposed to end-users via the app’s UI.

    User sign-up and log-in. The first thing new customers do is register an account. Allow them to use social networks or email and get access to their profile details. User authentication should be as simple and fast as possible yet necessary, as a company will need user data for KYC (Know Your Customer) verification purposes.

    Frontend feature — user sign-up and log-in

    Real-time payments. Unlike conventional protocols like SWIFT and SEPA, where transactions can take multiple working days, services like RTP network in the US or the Faster Payments in the UK facilitate real-time transaction processing.

    Chatbots. To reduce response times in their support services, many fintech companies implement conversational chatbots that offer immediate, human-like interaction. For instance, CitiBank uses a platform called Gupshup for chatbots across its services.

    Blockchain integration. Supporting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Tether, or Ethereum in wallet apps provides users with more financial management options. Cryptocurrencies are great for quick peer-to-peer transfers and are widely used for trading on platforms like Binance.

    A wallet that support cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Tether, or Ethereum

    Linking a bank account. Using integrations provided by PayPal, Stripe or Braintree, users can easily and securely enter their bank card details once and then use the card as a payment method instantly via the digital wallet application.

    Balance management. The e-wallet app should allow transfers from cards or other payment services, such as PayPal or Webmoney, to the wallet. This will require a payment processing integration. Also, design a convenient UI/UX for transaction history screen so that users track spending within the app.

    Money transfers. A feature that allows users to quickly send money to others will greatly increase the number of use cases for your mobile wallet application. To make the process as convenient as possible, consider integration with the phone’s contacts. This way users can select a recipient and send money with just a few taps.

    Money transfers in a digital wallet app

    Push notifications. Notifications about transactions, new offers, and rewards are a great way to keep users engaged. But it is important to let customers tweak notifications to their preferences — too many unimportant push notifications can have an opposite effect on user engagement.

    iBeacon and Bluetooth integrations. If you plan to develop a mobile wallet app for use in physical stores, consider integrating it with Bluetooth and iBeacon for Apple devices — this way, if a user appears in proximity to Bluetooth beacons, their phone automatically opens the application or sends a notification about current deals.

    Scanning QR-codes. Implementation of QR-code payments will require integration with software for reading codebars, for example, ZBar bar code reader. QR-code recognition is essential for the majority of fintech apps, including banking apps. Here is how we implemented a QR-code scanner in this mobile bank.

    A Mobile Bank Developed by Surf

    Smart watch integration. The rising popularity of Apple Watch and other smart watch brands makes this feature a great addition to any type of wallet app. Researchers state that paying with a user’s watch via NFC without taking out the phone and monitoring incoming and outgoing payments on the wrist is more convenient than paying with a card.

    On the backend — admin tools

    Creating robust administrative tools is as crucial as developing user-facing features — these tools assist in managing and retaining your app’s user base. Here are some to consider:

    Admin dashboard. A dashboard should enable administrators to manage user accounts, track app metrics, and monitor transactions. In payment apps, security is key. It’s important to carefully manage access levels. Keep the rule of least privilege in mind: it says an admin should only have access to the data absolutely necessary for their work.

    Marketing panel. Give your marketing team a way to independently create layouts, publish news, and send push notifications to app users through the UI. This will allow your developers to focus on adding new features. An admin panel is especially useful in closed or semi-closed wallet apps, where you can promote ongoing offers.

    Analytics dashboard. Here, you’ll be able to track transaction volumes, how they change over time, observe user behavior (such as preferred sign-in methods and most used features), and more. All of this information gives you a better understanding of how users interact with the application. Also, using an algorithm to identify unusual behavior and suspicious operations can help you prevent fraud.

    When we were working on an app for a large bank, our testers performed a test login to the app and used analytical tools to track the user’s flow and determine what screens could be accessed. This helped us understand how customers navigate the UI for tasks like applying for credit, issuing new cards, or transferring money.

    When we noticed users getting confused in a flow, we added detailed analytics to collect new data so that we could quickly make targeted fixes and eliminate bottlenecks.

    A banking app made by Surf

    Security features

    E-wallet apps often store sensitive data, such as transaction history and banking details. That’s why, based on functionality, they’re required to comply with international security standards. For example, In Europe, they follow GDPR and PSD2 regulations, while in the US — PCI DSS standards.

    Features that make the app more secure (and help comply with international regulations) include:

    Two-factor authentication

    Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra security layer after a user logs in with a password or uses biometrics (touch ID or face ID). There are several commonly used 2FA methods:

    • SMS: A code is sent to the user’s phone.
    • Email: A code or link is sent to the user’s email.
    • App: A user has a mobile app (Google Authenticator, for example) that generates unique codes.

    When we developed this mobile bank app, we wanted to make SMS authentication both convenient and sufficiently secure. If the SMS code is entered automatically, the app requires a user to tap the confirmation button, but if the user enters the code manually, the confirmation button is hidden, and the app accepts the code without it.

    How does a two-factor authentication work

    Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

    One of the most useful encryption methods in fintech is public-key cryptography. Public key infrastructure is based on digital signature technology and a pair of keys: private and public. The private key of each entity is only known to the owner and is used for signing in, while the public key is used to verify signatures but cannot be used to sign in.

    Payment tokenization

    This feature is used to secure payment details during transactions. Tokenization converts credit card details into an algorithmically generated string of digits, the so-called ‘token’, with no value outside the context of a transaction. The actual bank details are held safe in a token vault and are not shared with a merchant.

    SSL & End-to-end encryption

    To secure data transfer, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) uses asymmetric and symmetric encryption to safeguard the data and authenticate communicating parts. For another layer of security, end-to-end (e2e) encryption that uses cryptographic keys at both endpoints to block third-party intervention can be added.

    The importance of careful testing

    Testing plays a crucial role in the security of mobile wallet applications during development. It helps you find and fix vulnerabilities, ensuring that key aspects like authentication, authorization, and encryption are robust. At Surf, we believe that independent third-party audits are the best option for setting up an effective testing flow.

    For example, before the first release of this mobile bank app, we carried out 824 manual tests focusing on payments, transfers, and the status of various products and features. We also heavily used automated testing. Automation is a big part of our Quality Assurance services. It helps us cover the codebase with tests in a shorter time frame.

    Cost of digital wallet app development

    E-wallet app development cost is determined by a multitude of factors, such as development team location and size, technological stack used, app’s features and others. In this section, we’ll focus on the most important factors influencing the price, while you can find more details in our article on mobile app development costs and timeframes.

    Choice of tech stack

    Developing native apps for iOS and Android means you’ll have to write code for two separate apps using different programming languages (Kotlin for Android and Swift for iOS). Native apps are known for their performance, stability and effective usage of device resources but come at a cost — you’ll need two teams of wallet app developers to build two different products.

    Cross-platform frameworks, such as Flutter, allow developers to create iOS, Android, web apps using a single codebase with only minimal changes. When time-to-market is crucial, Flutter helps us develop native-feeling applications more efficiently and cuts costs and time to market by up to 40-50%.

    We created 3 apps for a major pharmaceutical chain, saving 40% of the client’s initial budget.

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    Also, because both apps are written in one programming language (Dart, in case of Flutter), the testing and debugging processes become a lot easier.

    To the users, a Flutter mobile wallet application looks exactly like a native app: it provides smooth animations, supports gesture navigation, and the UI elements look and feel native. Plus, Dart code compiles into native code, which gives Flutter apps an edge when it comes to security.

    Google first released Flutter in 2017. At Surf, we were among the first development companies to adopt this framework. Since then, we launched 25+ successful Flutter-based apps. For example, we’ve built the first Flutter banking app in Europe, and we were able to develop iOS and Android versions using a single tech stack.

    Corporate banking app in Flutter


    The kind of wallet app you’re developing — closed, semi-closed, or open — influences its complexity and the number of integrations involved. Each integration, whether it’s with a payment service, a technology like a double-entry accounting API for transaction tracking, or a device’s hardware like a camera for scanning QR codes, adds to the development time.

    For more insights on how to assess app development costs, check our article on mobile app development estimation.

    To avoid unexpected expenses, always begin developing from creating an app prototype. An MVP (minimum viable product) has only features that are crucial. Use MVP to test usability, refine interfaces and showcase your app concept to potential partners and investors.

    Developer location and team size

    The geographical location of the development team plays a major role in the final cost of your app. For example, US frontend developers have median annual salaries of $140,000, while frontend developers in Western Europe earn closer to $70,000 per year. If hiring remote workers is acceptable for your project, you can find developers anywhere in the world and save some budget.

    Read more about the pros & cons of outsourcing fintech development in our dedicated article.

    Average hourly rates of mobile app developers

    Summing up

    The payments sector is set to grow worldwide. Thanks to the wide adoption of digital payment solutions, investment in this area is expected to stay robust. We’ll also see more consolidation, as financial companies aim for bigger scale and broader reach.

    If you are looking to build an innovative wallet app to take advantage of the current trends, consider working with a development company with over 13 years of fintech application development experience. Our team has created multiple fintech apps, and you can read about them in our blog.

    To learn how much time and money you need to create a digital wallet app, check out our MVP app development services page. Remember that everything depends on the app’s complexity, tech stack used, and developers’ hourly rate.

    Let’s build your app together. Simply, fill in a short form, and we’ll get in touch soon to discuss your project.

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