Best practices to develop a mobile app in the financial industry
December 13, 2022
By Adam Widera, Farzad Kavehzad, Mridu Goel, and Ashley Whitehead
The finance sector is one industry that continues to move deeper and more rapidly into the digital realm. It is estimated that the mobile banking market will reach a total annual product of $1,824.7 million by 2026. That would mean a total compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2% since 2019. Currently, one-third of the world’s financial customers use mobile apps to do their banking, which is expected to grow exponentially.
It is no longer enough to provide a banking app with all the features that users expect. Customers are looking for fresh, new features that take their user experience beyond the typical account balance updates, mobile check deposits, and push notifications. The mobile apps leading the way in the banking sector have significantly enhanced user experiences, superior performance, and a polished look. They are predominantly Native apps that afford the display of financial data rendered in a highly visual, graphically compelling way while maintaining performance. The features in these apps are not only more discoverable and accessible than their predecessors, but they are also more intuitive and natural for a wider audience. If you want to create an app that will set your financial institution apart, you will need to get creative and build sophisticated app features that can really add value to customers’ mobile banking experience.
The latest features to consider for a mobile banking app
ATM locators and balance checks are the bare minimum. Here are some of the must-have features that any successful banking app needs:
- Advanced account insights: These features give users insights into their spending with sophisticated simplicity. Advanced account insights classify a person’s spending and categorizes it according to the type of purchases (such as entertainment, clothing, groceries, fuel, etc.). Leading banks are also taking advanced account insights one step further by offering predictions on a user’s spending habits and suggesting what they need to do to achieve their financial goals.
- Automated savings tools: Many customers appreciate features ties that help them to automate their savings, so they don’t have to think about how much to put aside or face the temptation to spend money they should be saving. Ally Bank has a feature called Surprise Savings, which analyzes customers’ spending patterns and account balances, and automatically transfers small amounts to their Ally savings accounts. Customers can thus move money out of their everyday transaction account balances into their savings without even noticing it.
- Customizable dashboards: The dashboard acts as the movie trailer for the banking app. The widgets are a teaser of the features that a user can navigate to, showing the most important data from other parts of the app in an easy-to-digest way. The dashboard should be customizable so that users can find the reports, summaries, and quick links they view the most.
- Goal planning: Banks need to give users a visual way to track their progress toward their goal. This section can include investment calculators or complimentary financial plans based on user information.
- Advisor centers: If your bank has financial advisors, it’s recommended to create a feature that enables users to initiate contact with advisors, collaborate with advisors on documents, join meetings, share screens, and record sessions with their advisors.
- Trading and watch lists: An increasing number of banking clients want trading capabilities. Some leading banks not only provide updated graphs on stocks, but they create investment bundles so that users can easily invest in markets they are interested in.
- Virtual assistsVirtual assistants are ready with insights to guide users on how they can put their cash to work. Virtual assistants can, for example, notify users when duplicate charges occur, when merchant refunds post to their account, send weekly updates on monthly spending, and monitor recurring charges and increases. Bank of America, Capital One and U.S. Bank are some of the major banks that have successfully launched their virtual assistants.
Quality Assurance and security testing
Naturally, security is every bank’s primary concern. Assuring new and existing clients that their money and data are safe is paramount when building and implementing a banking app. A recent LexisNexis survey showed that financial fraud has increased since the start of the pandemic. U.S. banks are now paying $4,00 for every $1,00 lost to fraud. The mobile space is one of the main targets for fraudsters. U.S. banks reported a 10% increase in mobile fraud since 2020. Most customers (around 90%) are more than happy to accept extra authentication and security measures when performing transactions, even if the process takes a little longer. What can CTOs do to increase protection against fraud? App security consists of the following:
- Test devices: The devices need to be selected based on hardware compatibility, current market penetration, and the bank’s customer base. The app development company should guide you on the test devices that need to be used during the quality assurance process. These devices should be chosen based on the devices your users own (which can be seen in your app analytics). Atimi recommends choosing testing devices that cover at least 75% of your banking app’s users.
- Non-functional testing: SonarQube can be introduced into the code development cycle to review source code on a scheduled basis. This solution provides developers with actionable reviews and leads to quantifiable feedback and more efficient code produced in a more measurable way. Performance testing should measure screen loading time, speed, stability, and scalability. Accessibility testing should be done according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which will enable you to create an app that is more accessible to people with visual, auditory, cognitive, speech, and other disabilities.
- Continuous testingAutomated tests should be integrated with the build pipeline for continuous testing. For example, UI automation can be achieved using Appium and Katalon tool stacks.
Differentiating your app
Differentiating your app starts with user research to get valuable insights into your app users’ attitudes, needs, pain points, and behaviors. User research will give you clarity on key trends and opportunities in the market. These findings will inform the overall user experience of your app. Some types of user research that Atimi conducts when creating an app include interviews, focus groups, surveys, web analytics, and competitive analysis. The outcome of a user research project should consist of a user research report, journey maps, customer insights, a competitive analysis, and recommendations.
Usability testing is another way that we help fintech clients differentiate their apps. During a usability testing project, Atimi investigates ways to improve a product and make sure the app is being used as expected. It allows problems to be identified and helps validate assumptions before release.
When we perform usability testing, we create a set of tasks for the participants to complete. The difficulty level could include tasks that are easy to complete and tasks that are more challenging and complex. Depending on the user, we will provide either a written or verbal instruction on the tasks they need to complete. After the tasks are completed, we observe the users’ interactions with the product and identify patterns of behaviors. The insights gained during this process lead to product improvement.
As you build your app, you need to consider how the industry will evolve in the coming years. The design, features, functionality, and security must take possible obsolescence into account. Study your market carefully and ensure that your app reflects the demands and behaviors of your customers.
Atimi Software can help you develop a cutting-edge banking app. We are a developer of custom mobile apps based in Vancouver, BC. Founded in 2000, we quickly grew in reputation and are now widely known as app developers who can handle complex projects and deliver high-quality work. We have the distinction of having developed three of the first 100 apps listed in the App Store. After 22 years in business, we have completed over 900 projects for clients in 70 different industries - many of them Fortune 500 companies. Contact us for help creating an industry-leading banking app.