How To Build and Develop A Great Mobile Banking App

Take your online banking services to the next level with a mobile banking app. Learn the exact development process you need to make it a reality.

Every financial institution is now looking at mobile apps to be the core driver of their banking solutions to provide consistent service levels without requiring a brick-and-mortar presence. How do you build a successful mobile app for your customers?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive surge in internet banking and mobile banking app adoption and usage. It has smashed any doubt that one can transact online without ever having to step into a bank branch when they can use their smartphone. Substantial technological improvements in security and trust-driven digital experiences can make even late adopters of digital technology one of the largest customer segments for mobile banking.

Why Build a Mobile Banking Application?

If you are leading the app development for your bank, you might have an existing website to serve your customers. You might also have an early version of a mobile app, but your executives would like to level up the competition in the market by releasing a redesigned mobile experience. The following factors should provide your team substantial evidence to consider building a truly mobile-first experience for your customers.

Direct access to customers

Mobile apps enable direct access to your customer's spending patterns and personalize their online banking experience, which could allow you to provide personalized products and financial services at the tap of a button.

Self-service for high-volume actions

Checking balances and recent spending history are the most prominent use cases for consumers. The use cases can be easily enabled by providing self-service capabilities within mobile apps and by combining them with virtual assistants to serve large swathes of customers at scale.

Consistency in customer support

Customer satisfaction can be hard to predict and measure due to differing service levels at multiple touchpoints like a bank branch or a call center. Mobile apps can provide a consistent customer experience by answering frequent support scenarios with helpful content to educate customers.

Initial Feature Set and Technology Choices

Let us look at the most frequent use cases sought by banking customers to define a consumer-facing banking app's initial experience. According to Statista, the following use cases are the biggest draw for mobile app usage in the US banking industry.

  • View real-time account balances
  • View recent credit card and debit transactions
  • Make bill and utility payments
  • Money transfers between individuals
  • Check deposits
  • Contact customer support
  • Branch locator
  • Push notifications for important events

A wide selection may make it overwhelming to decide on your mobile app's technical stack. No-code app platforms like Adalo and Outsystems enable making mobile apps as easy as creating spreadsheets. Platforms like Flutter(Dart) enable creating apps for multiple platforms on a single code base, allowing app developers to write code once and distribute on various platforms like Android and iOS.

Device integration to hardware features like GPS, access to features like TouchID and two-factor authentication, and enterprise-grade OS-level security remain a top requirement for banking software and banking apps. With these requirements in mind, companies often choose native development platforms like Swift and Java/Kotlin for iOS and Android, respectively, for building their banking platforms to get access to direct support from Apple and Google.

The Development Team Needed For Developing a Mobile Banking App

Regardless of platform choice, the mobile app development process needs a variety of specialists across multiple disciplines and a team effort to bring an app from idea to reality. Many technology-first organizations intentionally spend a lot of time and resources building such teams across disciplines to develop an app. These team roles include product managers, UX designers, mobile app developers, back-end developers, and QA engineers.

Time Estimates For Mobile Banking App Development

After the initial feature set has been set, you can now launch an MVP and validate if your mobile banking users adopt them before building more features. You can compare how your online banking customers use features versus your app users. Do they perform different functions or look for different features?

Overall, expect to spend more than 1000 hours building a mobile banking app, allowing for enough time to complete each feature.

Note: Estimates are meant as a guideline and not an exact number for app functionality. These estimates should only be used to help make an informed decision. Consult with your IT team for evaluation and to provide their own estimates. This will ensure pricing, routing, and billing options are monitored and managed correctly in a consolidated console. The admin panel is not part of the above estimate.

When comparing features across similar domains, the individual feature efforts might seem higher for a banking app than a retail app. Because security and privacy are top priorities, a lot of effort goes into testing secure processing of confidential financial information and displaying it on the app.

Mobile Banking App Development Costs

Now that you have a rough estimate of what skills you need to recruit for, and an approximate timeline to build, let us look at the various considerations that affect app development costs. The primary considerations would be proximity and approach to talent.

Whether you decide to engage talent locally in the US or engage global teams, the cost could vary significantly from higher rates in the USA and Western Europe to lower rates in Eastern Europe and Asia. You could also hire mobile app developers from freelancing platforms like Toptal and Upwork, or you could hire a digital agency that manages all these disciplines seamlessly under one roof.

The table below can guide your decision-making process.

According to Statista and Codementors, the median rate of app software development on iOS worldwide is $70 per hour. The hourly rate could vary widely from $30 to 110 an hour, depending on the location and depth of expertise you are looking for in each discipline.

Keeping the median rate in mind, the approximate cost of building this initial feature set on iOS for a mobile app could look like this: 1100-1500 hours for design and development, at $70 an hour would be approximately $77,000 to $105,000 for the app build.

App Development Costs: Other Important Factors

The cost of engaging talent is a crucial factor, but there are other important elements involved in launching a mobile to its consumers, namely:

  • Hosting and Infrastructure costs
  • Hardware equipment and Software licensing costs
  • App Store expenses with Apple and Google
  • App maintenance costs for updates and legal compliance (typically 20-25% of the development costs year-on-year)

Successful banking apps like Bank of America and Chime are now valued and used daily by their consumers. Still, it took a lot of talent and investment in digital initiatives for them to reach this stage of mobile adoption. And in hindsight, the pandemic has only accelerated the pace of innovation in digital banking systems, which means there are enough opportunities for new and established players to provide compelling mobile experiences in every aspect of banking.

We created this primer to help you understand the different aspects of developing your first mobile banking app. We are curious to understand which of these use cases your bank would be interested in building. Let us know in the comments.