How To Build A Savings And Investment App
The market for savings and investment has expanded significantly over the past few decades. There are new financial products, moreover, many new players have entered this market.
Given the wide range of choices, even experienced consumers sometimes find it hard to decide how to save their money and which investment option to choose. Naturally, newbies find this large market with a plethora of choices hard to navigate.
However, the emergence of cloud computing, analytics, and mobile has given new tools to consumers, as I have explained in “How to build an investment portfolio app”. There are now several helpful savings and investment apps in the market, and the market for such apps is growing.
Are you an entrepreneur trying to launch your app in this market? If you are, then you ought to read this guide on how to build a savings and investment app.
The market for investment management and advisory services
The market for investment management and advisory services is a happening one! This market is characterized by growing complexities, moreover, it’s an increasingly dynamic market.
Whether you are an established player or a new entrant in this market, you will need to leave your comfort zones. Relentless innovation is key to your success in this market, as Deloitte explains in “2020 investment management outlook”.
Investment management and advisory services fall within the wealth management services. Globally, the wealth management market is a large one.
By 2022, the global wealth management market will reach a value of $1.51 trillion. This market will see a CAGR of 7% during the 2019-2022 period, as you can read in “Wealth management global market report 2019”.
An example of a savings and investment app
The first thing you should do is to review an example of a successful savings and investment app since this will help you to get ideas. Stash is an excellent example, and it’s available on the web, Android, and iOS. It has 3 pricing plans, i.e., “Stash Beginner”, “Stash Growth”, and “Stash+”.
Stash offers the following features:
- Users can access a bank account and debit card from Stash, and they can use this Stash debit card to earn stocks and funds.
- The app allows users to buy stocks, bonds, and ETFs, moreover, it offers personal, retirement, and custodial investing accounts.
- Stash offers educational content to users about investment and money management, moreover, it offers market data and financial news.
- Users can set up schedules for their investments, furthermore, they can opt for automatic investment.
- Stash offers industry-standard security and its app complies with the applicable regulations governing the financial service industry.
You can find other examples of savings and investment apps in “The 8 best investment apps of 2019”.
Building a savings and investment app
Let’s take a deep dive and understand the steps involved to build a savings and investment app, which are as follows:
1. Decide on the right SDLC model
Onboard a project manager (PM), an IT architect, and a team of business analysts (BAs). They should have sufficient experience in developing software in the financial services industry.
Start the project planning with the help of this team, and use the Agile SDLC model. Since you will develop web and mobile apps and these are “Systems of Engagement” (SoEs), Agile fits well here. Read about the Agile SDLC model in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.
2. Define the scope of the project
I recommend that you offer features like Stash. You should build a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app, and plan to support English-speaking users.
You would likely launch an MVP, i.e., a functional app with minimal features, to test the market. Based on market feedback, you can enhance the app. Plan the MVP meticulously, and do the following:
- Learn what your customers want and what constitutes “value” for them using tools like “Discovery sessions”.
- Identify benefits for each feature and how they address customer pain points with the help of tools like “Pain and gain map”.
- Prioritize features for the app as well as MVP using tools like prioritization matrix.
Read our guide “5 tips to create a sleek MVP” for more insights.
3. Put a winning development approach in place
Plan for success, by formulating a winning development approach. Such an approach should comprise of the following:
- Plan for supporting more languages in the future, therefore, design the app keeping the “app internationalization” guidelines in mind. E.g., you should keep code separate from the content, as you can read in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.
- Focus on data security since it’s crucial for any app in the financial services industry.
- Develop native mobile apps and take advantage of their superior user experience and performance.
- Use an open-source runtime environment like Node.js for developing the web app since it helps to build scalable and performant apps.
- Judiciously use managed cloud services like “Platform-as-a-Service” (PaaS) and “Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service” (MBaaS).
- Design and develop APIs for your core features, and use market-leading 3rd party APIs for non-core features.
- Use a mobile device and browser lab on the cloud to improve your test coverage.
Our guide “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” explains the advantages of this approach.
4. Formulate an effective strategy to secure your app
Formulate a strategy to secure your savings and investment app since it would process sensitive personal information and financial transactions. This strategy should encompass the following:
- Proactively mitigate application security risks like injection, broken authentication, XML external entities (XXE), cross-site scripting (XSS), etc. Read the “Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 application security risks – 2017” report for guidance.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA), and don’t rely on passwords alone.
- Employ industry-standard encryption techniques such as AES-256 algorithms for securing sensitive data.
- Use next-generation firewalls and market-leading antivirus solutions to keep away cyber-attackers.
- While cloud computing expedites software development by allowing you to focus on development instead of IT infrastructure management, you need to use it judiciously. E.g., you might need to use a hybrid cloud deployment where you keep your sensitive data on a private cloud and run other workloads on a public cloud.
- Cybersecurity requires a proactive approach, therefore, stay on top of the security threats by using real-time threat intelligence capabilities.
- Don’t let security and compliance testing to become the last items on a checklist! Embrace “Compliance-as-code” to include them in your CI/CD pipeline, as explained in “Compliance-as-code: Addressing compliance challenges through automation”.
- Secure your APIs using authentication tokens, digital signatures, encryption, quotas, throttling, and gateways.
Read our guide “How to secure your Fintech app” for more guidance.
5. Choose the appropriate managed cloud services platforms
Introduce efficiency in your project by using the right managed cloud platforms, e.g., a PaaS platform for the web app development, and an MBaaS platform for developing mobile apps. AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an appropriate PaaS platform for this project, which offers the following advantages:
- It manages the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment.
- You can easily scale your web app with the help of its auto-scaling solution, moreover, you can use the powerful AWS DevOps tools.
- Elastic Beanstalk makes it easy to add databases and integrate APIs.
Our guide “10 top PaaS providers for 2020” explains its advantages in detail.
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Use AWS Amplify, the MBaaS offering from AWS so that you don’t need to build and manage the mobile backend. It offers the following advantages:
- Amplify manages the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage, moreover, it makes it easy for you to integrate APIs.
- Implementing security features and other features like user management, push notifications, etc. are easier with Amplify.
- Reputed MBaaS platforms like AWS Amplify make it easier to scale a mobile app.
Read more about the advantages of using an MBaaS platform in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.
6. Form the development team and organize it meaningfully
It’s time to find developers! Our guide “How to find a good software developer” can help. You need to staff the following roles:
- UI designers;
- Web developers with Node.js skills;
- Android developers with Java skills;
- iOS developers with Swift skills;
- DevOps engineers.
Organize the team to make it productive, and I recommend that you use the “Scrum” technique for this. This technique works well for managing Agile projects, as I have explained in “How to build a Scrum development team?”. Do the following:
- You form small, cross-functional “Scrum teams” where developers and testers work together.
- The PM performs the “Scrum master” role, and the team works on “Sprints”, i.e., iterations.
- A “Product owner” provides the requirements, and the team estimates and schedules them in sprints in a process called “Sprint planning”.
- Scrum teams are empowered, and they hold “Daily stand-up meetings” to discuss the project status.
- Business stakeholders approve a sprint after reviewing a functional app, and they do so in a meeting called “Sprint review meeting”.
Use a modern PM tool like Trello to manage these activities.
7. Get market-leading 3rd party APIs for non-core features
You will need to provide market data in your app, however, it’s not a core feature. I recommend that you a 3rd party API for this, and IEX Cloud is an excellent choice.
IEX Cloud offers institutional-grade data including fundamentals, ownership, international equities, mutual funds, options, etc. Read the IEX Cloud API documentation to learn how to use it, and view its pricing plans before you buy it.
Your apps also need the “push notifications” feature to engage your users, however, it’s another non-core feature. Consider using a 3rd party bulk-SMS solution to implement this, and I recommend that you use Twilio.
8. Develop APIs for your core features
Design and develop APIs for core features like banking integration, investment, etc. Bring the full range of your business capabilities to the table by developing APIs smartly, which involves the following:
- Use relevant tools, e.g., Postman for developing and testing the APIs, and Swagger for documenting them.
- Utilize your AWS account to host your APIs.
- Secure your APIs using authentication tokens, encryption, digital signatures, etc.
- Use a robust database solution like PostgreSQL to develop the APIs.
- Design meaningful URL paths, moreover, design effective request/response rules.
Our guide “How to build RESTful API for your mobile app?” can help.
9. Sign-up for a mobile device and browser lab on the cloud
Your planned mobile apps need to work with all applicable devices, however, you need to test them against a sufficient number of devices to ensure this. This requires a mobile device and browser lab on the cloud, and pCloudy offers just that.
10. Develop your web app
Take the following steps to develop, test, and deploy your web app:
- Design a user-friendly UI by following the guidelines in “User interface design guidelines: 10 rules of thumb”.
- Use js, and code the app using IntelliJ IDEA. Read “Node.js and NPM” for guidance on how to use Node.js with this IDE.
- Integrate the various APIs.
- Test and app and deploy it using the AWS DevOps tools, by following the instructions in “Deploying Node.js applications to AWS Elastic Beanstalk”.
11. Develop your Android and iOS apps
Developing your planned Android app involves the following steps:
- Design the UI by following the “Material Design” guidelines.
- Use Android Studio and Java to code the app, and integrate the different APIs.
- Test the app using Espresso and the pCloudy mobile device lab.
- Publish the app to Google Play, by following the instructions in “Publish your app”.
It’s time to develop the iOS app, therefore, take the following steps:
- Use the “Human Interface Guidelines” to design the UI.
- Code the app using Swift and the Xcode
- Integrate the various APIs, and test the app using XCTest and the pCloudy mobile device lab.
- Read “Submit your apps to the App Store”, and publish the app to the Apple App Store by following these instructions.
Planning to launch your savings and investment app?
This guide will help, however, the market for savings and investment apps is highly competitive. You should anticipate a high-complexity project when you plan to launch an app with sufficient differentiators. Work with a reputed software development company for such projects, and read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to find one.