If there ever was a time to build a fintech app, that time is now. The market is ripe, the problems to solve are plenty, and the tools and resources are readily available.
There are three compelling reasons why you should consider building a fintech app.
1. Financial illiteracy is on the rise
One would think that with the growing student loan crisis, and international economic warfare between the US and other governments, people are now more educated about how to manage their money.
But the opposite is true. A 2015 S&P Survey showed 57% of Americans were financially illiterate. The problem is actually getting worse are revealed in the 2019 report released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Some of the shocking findings in the report are that ” the financial literacy rate among Americans has decreased from 42% to 34% since 2009; nearly eight in 10 Americans have some kind of debt, 37% feel that they have too much debt; more than half of Americans feel that their personal finances are a source of anxiety and stress.”
The numbers are more shocking among millennials – 76% of millennials lack basic financial education, 54% worry that they’ll fail to repay their student loans. Among Americans between the ages of 18 and 26, only 16% reported being optimistic about their financial future. Yet this is the generation that will soon be in charge of our economy.
Picture all this with the backdrop of the growing distrust of human financial managers. People, even though not fully informed, are desperate to take charge of their finances. And they are hungry to learn fast.
If you came up with a creative fintech app that helps ordinary people to effectively take control of their finances without having to know all the financial jargon, you’d hit gold. The demand is high.
2. Mobile Phone Penetration
There are 5.13 billion unique mobile phone users in the world today. That is equivalent to 66.6% of the planet’s total population. Ericsson estimates that in 2019 there are 5.5 billion smartphones in the world.
Apps are everything on a smartphone and most of them require having an internet connection, so we can safely assume that a large number of these smartphone users have internet access.
Related Post: The 6 Most Important Metrics For Mobile Apps
There is a strong appetite for automation due to the availability of mobile solutions for almost everything. Going to the mall, the bank or library is not imperative anymore. We have apps for those things.
But fintech apps are still lagging behind in functionality when compared to apps for shopping, education, healthcare, and other categories. They are usually limited to managing bank accounts, online payments, transfers or making budgets. But there is so much more than can be done a little creativity. This a gaping hole in the market.
Take home rental management, for example, a large part of it is still done offline. A fintech app solution that combines tenant screening, rent collection and other aspects of rental management could be very successful.
3. Open banking
Since the earliest civilizations, to access banking services, people have always had to go to the bank. But now, banks are bringing their services to the people by going digital. Open banking is the driver behind this new approach.
Today, banks understand the importance of being interconnected. By incentivizing their data, they remain relevant to their customers in this digital age. They’ve invested millions of dollars into developing APIs that enable third-party entities to create and serve value-added banking services like mobile credit score monitoring, loan processing, real-time capital management, treasury management and much more.
Thanks to open banking, you can now rapidly build and deploy complex fintech solutions without spending years on development or needing to undergo lengthy certification for you to directly manage financial data. The sky’s the limit.
The actual building process
Let me walk you through the steps of building a simple fintech app.
Let’s say you want to build a rental management app. Your app will enable users to check prospective tenants’ credit scores, accept leasing security deposits, place them in escrow and manage their release at the end of a leasing contract to eligible clients.
Your value proposition is that this app streamlines the application process for applicants and increases ROI for landlords, the sort of win-win that fintech should be able to accomplish.
We’d need several functions to make this possible:
- User authentication with encryption
- Secure hosting with multiple failover redundancy
- Credit score checking
- Access to banking data and real-time transfers to an escrow account
- A payment gateway
- Chat to communicate with users and provide support
If we were to do this the hard way, we’d have to hard code each of these functions ourselves. It would take forever and cost a fortune. Fortunately, there are APIs for each of them. Let’s take a look at these functions and their APIs individually:
Authentication & User Management – Firebase:
Think of this like the skeleton on which to hang the muscles and organs of your app. It is the scaffolding tool of choice for app building. It also provides secure user authentication, management, and crash reporting. Firebase integrates with a host of other Google services that create a rich user experience.
Secure Hosting – Cloud Firestore
Your engine room. This is an encrypted cloud-hosted database solution for app development. It’s a Firebase product and integrates with all other Firebase products for seamless development and user experience. It has automatic scaling, is capable of high performance and simplifies the app development process.
Credit Score checking – Experian, ACS & UCS
Experian offers a consumer-facing API that pulls credit scores and credit reports. The credit report can also be shared online to third parties.
With ACS, you can generate, full credit reports, FICO scores, public records and make credit inquiries.
This API generates credit reports from 3 credit bureaus – Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian. UCS consolidates this data into a single unified credit report file. They also support bulk requests.
Data accessible using this API includes:
- Pre-Employment Credit Reports
- 4506T IRS Tax Transcripts
- Social Security Number Verifications
- Criminal Searches
- Eviction Searches
- Decision-only Credit Reports
- Motor Vehicle Records
Bank account access – Plaid
Plaid connects your app to bank accounts. This a major API in the fintech industry. Plaid makes many things possible that are otherwise very difficult to achieve. It’s very agile and consolidates your users’ financial data on a single platform, minimizing risk and speeding up development.
Another financial data aggregator is Yodlee, but they have fewer capabilities compared to Plaid.
Payment Gateway – Stripe
Stripe is a global payments processor. Stripe combines many payment service providers into one solution that frees you from needing to store credit card details and comply with PCI certification. It integrates with Plaid.
Chat – Chatbot
Using Natural Language Processing and machine learning, Chatbot’s API automates your customer service. Because this is powered by machine learning, you can develop it to handle more complex tasks like tenant preapproval processing using open source libraries like python scikit.
Bonus Plugins you may want to use:
If you want to include financial management for the landlord’s dashboard, this API has tools to show the financial health of a business. Intuit owns Quickbooks and Mint.
The knowledge curve
Obviously, there is a learning curve associated with using each of these APIs. Combining two or more APIs increases the learning curve by the same number of times.
To build a successful fintech app with any of these APIs, you’re going to need a pro with the right experience and working knowledge of these tools. While it sounds simple, there are best practices and specialized skills needed for this type of project.
Remember, we are talking about very sensitive data. This is data that hackers would love to access at your expense. So here are a few extra steps you need to take:
- Understand the legal agreements associated with accessing users’ financial data using these APIs.
- Create a data privacy and management policy.
- Secure an insurance policy so you are covered in case of a breach.
- Have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place.
Your responsibilities go beyond just providing a service. Your users are placing their life’s savings in your stewardship. Taking these extra steps will go a long way to enhance their trust in you as well as the reliability of your app.
Launching your app
After all the designing, coding and content creation (including the disaster recovery plan and insurance) is complete, you only have two more steps before launching your app.
The first is beta testing. Get your app into the hands of real users to have first-hand feedback, and fix all the bugs before you launch. First-Time user experience can make or break your app. If you launch with many obvious problems in functionality, you risk getting a lot of uninstalls and bad public reviews.
The next step is probably the most important apart from actually completing your app – marketing. Be sure to have a realistic, well-calculated marketing plan. Without this, you risk not reaching your ideal users and may even think your app is a failure when not.
After dotting all your ‘i’s and ‘t’s here, you’re ready for launch.
Post-launch, you’ll need to work on your app ratings to boost your app store optimization.
Do you want to build a market-ready fintech app in record time?
At Topflight Apps, we build successful fintech apps. We turn disruptive fintech ideas go from concept to real-life products, then add rocket fuel to help these products reach millions of users.
If you have a fintech project and would like to discuss it with us, you can reach us here.