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Bank digital transformation: how much does it cost to develop a mobile banking app?

Maryna Cherednychenko - August 14, 2020 - 0 comments

The banking sector is currently undergoing critical changes under the influence of IT. This process is called digital transformation. If earlier IT was used to automate workflow, now it gives way to new business models. And mobility plays a vital role here.

Today, “Banking is no longer somewhere you go but something you do,” writes Brett King, author of the bestselling Bank 3.0. Pay, transfer, purchase – all these things should go instantly upon the screen touch. Modern users don’t want to visit brick-and-mortars; they need all banking options on the phone screen.

With this in mind, banks around the world are working on digitizing their services. Some new players completely abandon physical offices and work online only. They are called neobanks. Yet, many banks combine offline activity and a mobile interface. In this post, we will see what features mobile banking should have and how much it costs to create it. Also, we will share our experience in mobile banking development.

Why develop mobile banking?

The number of people who bank online is growing every year. This is because mobile technologies have become an integral part of everyday life. Also, high competition among mobile apps has dramatically increased the quality of the latter. According to ConsumerAffairs, eight out of ten Americans choose to bank online rather than go to a brick-and-mortar branch. Also, 82% of customers would not change the bank because they are satisfied with their mobile platform.

As of today, almost every major bank in the world has its own mobile app. The Retail Banker research conducted in 2018 listed many big names under the notion of the best mobile solution for finance. Bank PKO, Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, and UBS got the top grades. Thus, global experience and statistics of mobile users prove the necessity of developing a mobile banking app. So if you don’t have one, let’s see how to make it in the best way.

Where to start mobile app development?

In this section, we’ll go over the essential points to consider when developing a mobile app. We’ll look at them from the perspective of an entrepreneur, not a developer. The technical nuances are to be handled by the coding experts. If you outsource the development to our team, we will first examine the project and then list all the techniques we will apply. Only after agreeing all the details, we will enter upon the implementation. See this post if you want to find out how we estimate projects and contract with clients. Now, let’s proceed to a step-by-step guide for developing a banking app.

Understand your clients

First of all, you need to understand for whom you develop an app. The main questions are: who is your target audience, and what does it expect from mobile banking? The answers are documented in the User Story, a short statement describing something the system should do for the user. Here are some examples of the user stories that we created when working on mobile banking projects.

  • As a mobile banking user, I want to see the actual state of balance for all my accounts, so that I know how much money I have after the transaction has passed.
  • As a mobile banking user, I want to quickly set up the sum and add a receiver, so that I transfer money to a selected person whenever I wish.
  • As a mobile banking user, I want to have the ability to set repeating payments to utility companies, so that I do not delay to pay off the bills.

To understand users’ needs, you can conduct surveys, analyze support calls, and study global statistics. For example, take a look at the Statista survey to see the primary reasons for using mobile banking apps in the USA.


Reasons for using mobile banking apps in the United States in 201

Reasons for using mobile banking apps in the United States in 2018

Provide robust security

Financial institutions are one of the main targets of cybercriminals: Statista research shows that the banking sector bears the most significant losses from cyberattacks. See the chart below. Therefore, banks have to pay serious attention to information security and the protection of app infrastructure. Let’s see what measures you can take.


Cyber crime costs

Average annual costs caused by global cyber crime in 2018, by industry sector
(in million U.S. dollars)


Set up a secure infrastructure. First of all, you should prepare the server that will keep the database and app logic. At Softensy, we often choose AWS enterprise cloud for fintech projects. It provides reliable protection from DDoS attacks and immediately recovers the data when unexpected failures happen.

Enable two-factor authentication. This layer of protection significantly reduces theft since the user verifies their identity by entering biometric data or a mobile app password.

Include e-signature. This option is not only a means of protection but a feature that adds value to your app. Among other things, the users can open a bank account from the comfort of their home. All they need to do is submit a request through the app and sign documents by touching the screen.

Implement a password check. Set up a mechanism that will decline too short or too simple passwords. Encourage users to create strong passwords to make it difficult for attackers to hack them.

Adjust the expiration time for inactive sessions. Sometimes, users forget to close sessions in the banking app, and it opens an easy way for attackers. To prevent malicious intervention, automatically block them after a particular time on non-usage.

Restrict the app from jailbroken devices. A jailbroken phone loses a significant level of protection and is vulnerable to hacker attacks. To avoid troubles, set a ban on installing your app on such a device.

Set up smooth UX

The app developers cannot influence the stuffing of banking products. The set of services is formed by the specialists of the financial organization. Moreover, these services are nearly the same for all banks: account management, payments, transfers, statements, currency conversion, etc. Hence, it may be worth focusing not on what you do but how you do.

“How” means UX and code quality. You should turn the design into a competitive advantage of your mobile app so that clients enjoy using it. At Softensy, we always take care of the following UI/UX elements:

Corporate identity. Your app should be recognizable and associated with a brand. Keep the laconic style and the overall ergonomics.

Maximum personalization. Based on big data analysis, provide users with personalized offers and tips.  Let the user feel that you care about their needs.

Interaction with users. It is necessary to include reminders and alerts to keep users up to date about what’s going on in the app. Remember to provide an option to turn off notifications

Mobile banking app features

Let’s now take a closer look at what features a banking app should contain. First, we will list the required functionality, and then move on to the add-ons that will add value to financial operations.

Basic functions

Authorization. Any app starts with the registration and authorization. To comply with security standards, add passwords and biometrics checks. Ask the user to confirm the identity at every transaction.


HSBC fingerprint authorization

Accessing HSBC banking app with a fingerprint


Card information. Let the users quickly access all the card information, such as card number, balance, owner’s name, payment system, and account details. You can also place information about card-related services, for example, servicing or re-issuing.

Transfers and payments. The usability tests have shown that difficulties may arise at the stage of finding the recipient. Therefore, it is useful to male a well-structured screen with payment categories.

Transactions history. Users review it for many reasons. Sometimes, they want to remember the last purchases. In other cases – make sure the payment went successfully, and no errors took place. Thus, the more details you provide, the more tasks the user will solve.


Transactions history in the Chime banking app

Transactions history in the Chime banking app


Spending tracker. Modern users are used to having this feature in place. It allows them to analyze financial behavior and set financial goals. The functionality usually covers budget categories, personalized reports, and savings purposes.

Push notifications. Use push notifications to inform the users about meaningful changes in an app: notify about completed transactions, send promotional deals, request passwords confirmation.


Citi bank notifies users about significant events

Citi bank notifies users about significant events


ATM and office locations. It is a convenient option that will guide users to nearby ATMs and bank branches. To enable it, integrate Google Maps or Apple Maps for Android or iOS apps, respectively. Don’t forget to display opening hours for users’ convenience.

In-app chat. Users often use chat to reach customer support. If you want to provide quality service, you should stay online 24/7. Except for human managers, it is highly recommended to make chatbots that will respond instantly at any time of day and night.

Note, the above features are presented in all banking apps in one form or another. The top place will take those who implement it most conveniently.

Extra features

Regular payments. It is a handy tool for utility bills or subscriptions. The user can create a template and tick the repeating payment box. Thus, they will save time and never delay the compulsory payments.

QR code scanning. Users of banking apps often type receipts’ details manually. This is inconvenient: the keyboard is small, but there is a lot of data to enter. The ability to scan a barcode or QR code on a receipt to automatically fill in the details would save users time and effort.


QR code scanning in the OCBC banking app

QR code scanning in the OCBC banking app


Cashback. It is one of the favorite users’ options that returns some portion of the money spent. You can offer a few cashback categories at the beginning of the month and accumulate returns on the special account. The user can move them to the main account when needed.

Google Pay/Apple Pay integration. These payment methods are gaining popularity. So, it a cool idea to let users pay through the app. Integrate Google Pay/Apple Pay and enable contactless payments with users’ accounts in your bank.

Booking third-party services. Some mobile banking apps allow users to buy tickets, book hotels, order tables in restaurants, etc. It is very convenient since the client has one stopover for many activities. So, if you want to uplevel your app, think of adding such a feature.


Special offers in Bank of America app

Special offers in Bank of America app


Splitting bills. When you have dinner with friends in a restaurant, it is very convenient to use the split bill feature. Everyone pays their share, and you don’t have to bother with debt repayment.

How much does it cost to develop a mobile banking app?

Now, let’s sum up the above features and see how much the app development will cost you. We make calculations based on the assumption that a team of 3 developers will work on the app. Their average hourly rate is $ 35 per hour in Ukraine. Note, we will calculate pure development time. However, the overall sum exceeds the figure we will define as it includes business analysis, design, testing, and other related expenses.

Basic features Development time  Extra features Development time 



Regular payments 240
Card information


QR code scanning 120
Transfers and payments 480 Cashback 240
Transactions history 240 Google Pay/Apple Pay integration 480
Spending tracker 240 Booking third-party services 480
Push notifications 120 Splitting bills 480
ATM and office locations 120
In-app chat 480
Total time & money 2400 / $252K 2040 / $214K

Final thoughts

In a digital environment, banks can no longer be limited to brick-and-mortar branches. Modern users don’t have time to visit offices for every issue. Instead, they want to manage finances right away. Given this, large and small banks are entering the mobile market with their apps.

If you are going to launch such a service, we recommend starting with a basic set of features. Later, you can add more options if you realize your users need them. At Softensy, we specialize in fintech development. If you are thinking of outsourcing your mobile banking project, get in touch. We consult for free.

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