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Where to start mobile banking app development in 2021: key elements, features, prospects


Maryna Cherednychenko - October 1, 2020 - 0 comments

Banks operate in a complex environment with rapid technological change and rising expectations. Under such conditions, it is more challenging to retain customers. So, banks choose the field where their attention is most focused – a smartphone. Long ago have passed the time when only the most innovative banks come with mobile apps. Now we are witnessing the next step when inert players get into the game too. This is not surprising. According to the recent Citi study, eight out of ten people now use their phones to manage money. Besides, nine out of ten mobile banking users said they preferred using apps over going to a branch.

Obviously, mobile banking is the must-have for modern banks. Yet, the low-grade app won’t work. At times like now, you need a stellar solution that is equally secure, reliable, and fun. In this post, we are going to share how to make one. If you are interested, grab a seat.

Define a list of offered services

If you want to launch mobile banking, you need to decide on the services you will provide. As a rule, they are more or less similar across all banking apps. The main thing is how you spin them. Let’s review the mobile app services that we developed for our client – a large Eastern European bank.

  1. Bank accounts. This option pulls all the client’s bank accounts into the mobile app. It allows viewing balance, history of withdrawals, adding funds, and so on. The service also offers an instant opening of a new bank account by applying directly from the app.
  2. Card issuing. The users can request a new card or replace the existing one. They can also get the digital version of a card in the app and start using it right away.
  3. Cards replenishments with cash. To deliver this service, you will need a network of own or partner self-service terminals.
  4. Card 2 Card money transfers. It is one of the primary services, which enables money transferring from one card to another. Transfer fees increase if cards are issued by different banks. 
  5. Credit limit. It is provided by opening an overdraft and letting the client enjoy credit facilities when necessary.
  6. Deposits. Add deposits in different currencies and for several periods. Allow easy opening in just a few clicks.
  7. Wire transfers. Another essential bank service, which is especially important for corporate clients.
  8. Other payment services. Those include utility bills, fines, mobile top-up, and so on.

Aside from the above services, it is vital to keep a strong focus on customer support. Although not a pure banking product, it directly affects a bank’s reputation and customer loyalty. Fast, competent, easily accessible – that’s how it should be. To achieve this, you need to implement a glitchless microservice with call-center, chats, and chatbots.

Outline banking information systems

After you have planned the range of services, it’s time to understand how these services will be organized – where the information will come from and where it will go next. To do this, you need to define the app information system. The latter is an integrated set of components for gathering, storing, and processing data. A diagram below shows them conceptually.

 

How banking information systems work

Banking information systems

Processing center

The processing center is a specialized computer center authorized by the payment system. It provides informational and technological interaction between the participants of settlements. The main functions cover processing authorization requests and transaction protocols.

There are two ways of how banks can get processing center services:

  1. Develop and support them by yourself
  2. Use 3rd party processing centers

The first option requires large investments and rare talents to set everything up. In a nutshell, you will have to buy different modules from licensed vendors, get a license from payment systems, such as Visa or MasterCard, and go through PCI-DSS certification.

The second option assumes the use of a third-party processing center. Some banks simply rent it from other banks, thus being just an interface on top of the owner’s financial entity and processing center.

Core banking system

The core banking is a set of software and hardware aimed at automating banking. It is an internal self-regulating system that handles daily transactions and updates accounts and other financial records. Major banking systems typically process deposits, loans, and credits and connect to standard accounting systems and reporting tools.

Usually, banks purchase licensed CB solutions. Plus, they pay vendors for configuration and setup. Developing such software from scratch would require an economically irrational amount of time and money. Today, there are many popular vendors in the market. Some of them are Temenos, Finastra, SDK.finance, Oracle FLEXCUBE, and others.

Mobile app backend

As shown in the diagram, it is the core link between front-end mobile apps installed on your customers’ devices on the one side and processing, CB, and 3rd party service providers on the other. It can be considered the central place of business logic execution, with mobile apps being an interface for the customers. Mobile banking app operations require proper control; hence CRM and administration systems belong here as well.

To set up a mobile app backend, you can choose to create a custom server, rent a cloud server, or use a mobile backend as a service (MBaaS). For our big mobile banking project, we opted for the second option. We chose Amazon Web Service as a provider, which allowed us to establish the fast, reliable, and smooth operation of the app.

Third-party service providers

By third party providers, we understand suppliers of services that the bank needs to operate properly. Among many providers, the main one is the provider of the payment system. Two options are possible here: partnering directly with payment networks, like Visa or Mastercard, or with service providers, like Stripe or Paymentwall. Note, you can use both ways and contract several companies.

Among other providers, mobile operators play an essential role. They help keep in touch with users using different communication channels. For example, in our CRM project, we contracted the big Ukrainian operator – Lifecell. With its help, we organized the messaging feature in the banking app. Here is how it works: the banking system passes the message to the mobile operator, which, in turn, delivers it to the end-user. The primary channel is Viber. If the user doesn’t have it installed, they receive SMS.

Mobile app (iOS/Android)

Here we are talking about the banking app the users run on their phones. It is crucial to make it fast, usable, and secure. For this, you need to carefully approach the choice of the tech stack. At Softency, we use native technologies for mobile banking app development. Our Ecobank iOS app is written in Swift, and Android app – in Kotlin. Plus, we have applied cross-platform tools for building some app parts: Flutter for push notifications, and Go for the contact center module. The use of different technologies allowed us to achieve efficient app work with no glitches and downtimes.

 

Push notifications screen and main screen in Ecobank app

Ecobank mobile app screens

List mobile banking app features

When you know what services you will provide and how your app will work from the inside, it’s time to draw up a list of mobile banking app features. Remember to do it with users in mind. If you want to attract new customers, you will need something more than P2P transfers or viewing a card balance. For example, tech-savvy Millennials would thank you for bill splitting or online game top-ups, and pragmatic Gen X – for taxes and budget payments. Below, you can see a comprehensive list of mobile banking app features. Depending on your project nature, you can shorten or extend it.

 

  • the remote client onboarding process
  • wallet management
  • list of transactions
  • push notifications
  • deposits
  • installments
  • card to card transfers
  • wire transfers
  • payments
    • mobile phone top-ups
    • utility bills
    • taxes and budget pays
    • traffic fines
    • charity
    • online game accounts replenishment
  • personal financial manager
  • insurance
  • rewards
  • cashback
  • in-app chat

Set future prospects

Often, the first version of a mobile app equals a minimum viable product and has sufficient functions to satisfy the first consumers’ needs. The main task is to get feedback and define the vector for further development. Gathering information from an MVP is usually cheaper than making an app with a lot of features. This allows you to reduce costs and risks if the product does not work.

Following this scheme, you can start with a really simple mobile banking app and extend it with more features in the next versions. Once your app is up and running, you can experiment with more rare functionality. At the moment, cryptocurrency is considered a promising area of development. So, adding crypto features such as wallet management, exchange, and transfers into a regular mobile banking app is a great idea. You can do it by partnering with third-party companies, such as  DAEX or Intellogate, and include crypto payments into your app via a specially designed API.

Afterword

Mobile banking is a complex system aimed at automating personal finances. Today mobile banking has a full set of offline branch features and even more. Users can send money, take loans, open deposits, as well as make purchases, replenish accounts, and receive cashback. Modern apps become more advanced, offer exclusive features, and minimize the need to visit the office. Such high competition leaves no chances for “appless” banks. So, if you want to succeed in a digital society, it’s better to enter mobile development. Get in touch to receive a detailed consultation and a rough estimate of a mobile banking app for free.

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