Latest posts by Aran Davies (see all)
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Interested in how to create a financial app?
Approach to developing a personal finance app
To launch a high-quality app in a competitive market you will need to offer differentiators. Custom development can enable you to offer differentiating features in your app, hence, I will describe this approach here.
At a high-level, you need to do the following:
- Develop a simple yet elegant UI. Your UX/UI designers need a good knowledge of mobile menu design for this. Check our guide “Mobile navigation menu examples”.
- There are common functions where it‘s advantageous if you don‘t reinvent the wheel. Personal finance app development using financial data ’application programming interfaces‘ (APIs) can save you valuable time. I will explain a few popular financial data APIs.
- Mobile backend development and management are time-consuming, however, you can take advantages of ’Mobile Backend as a Service’ (MBaaS) providers. I will explain this.
- I recommend ’Agile‘ project management methodology and you can read about it in our guide “How to build an Agile development team?”.
Build a personal finance app using APIs
You can use financial data APIs for building a finance app thereby saving time. Check the following examples:
Yodlee financial data APIs:
Envestnet Yodlee is a leading data aggregation and analytics platform for digital financial services. They offer their financial data APIs. Their APIs can give you access to financial data from 16,000 global data sources.
You can create a personal finance app with the following features:
- Users can set their financial goals and track the progress.
- Users often subscribe to products or services using their credit card. It‘s often hard to manage multiple subscriptions. The app can help users to manage this easily.
- The app will help users manage their bill payments with automated tracking and alert messages.
- Monitoring spending, credit card debts, and other debts are easy.
- The app can provide chatbots or other forms of financial advice to users.
- You can offer industry-leading security features in your app for financial data.
The APIs provide data enrichment services hence, customers can view their transaction data in clear format. Contextual information such as transaction category and geolocation is available. Read more about their features in their personal financial management solution webpage.
To sign-up for Yodlee APIs, access their sign-up page. The company provides extensive documentation for their APIs, and you can access them here. Yodlee offers a 45-days free trial period with limited features, however, their paid plans offer advanced features. For e.g., the paid plans offer access to a high number of data sources, furthermore, you can access a greater range of APIs. Check their pricing page for more details.
Fincity has nearly 2 decades of financial services industry experience, which they have capitalized while offering their financial data aggregation platform. They offer this platform via their financial data APIs. Their APIs enable you to include the following features in your app:
- Transaction aggregation, including expense categorization, account balances, transaction status, investment positions, etc.
- Account history aggregation: You can offer up to 24-months of transaction history through your app when you use their APIs. You can include data elements like income deposits, expense categorization, transaction descriptions, account balances, and loan balances.
- Industry-leading security features for sensitive financial data.
Sign-up for the Fincity APIs here. Fincity provides comprehensive documentation for their APIs, and you can access them here. For e.g., you can check out their API reference guides here, additionally, the API guidelines are here. Find the ’Getting Started‘ guide for their APIs here.
The company offers a limited trial period. You need to first sign-up with them to avail that trial. To get their API pricing plans, you need to contact their sales team.
Plaid is a company that had earlier built the technical infrastructure APIs for the financial services industry. These enabled developers, consumers, and financial institutions to connect. They have since expanded with analytics suite for their data. Their APIs can help you make a personal finance app.
With their APIs, you can add the following features to your personal finance app:
- You can build an engaging UI leveraging their platform.
- Users typically have accounts with multiple financial institutions, however, the Plaid personal finance solution helps them in getting a comprehensive view.
- Your app will be able to consolidate financial data from multiple sources, additionally, categorization of data is easy.
- 24-months of historical data is valuable, especially when you combine that with their powerful analytics.
- Users will have an easy way to add transactions and categorize them.
- The app will have balance functionalities to keep track of users‘ net worth.
- Reminders and alerts about debt payments will be helpful to users.
- Users will also get personalized suggestions for debt refinancing and consolidation options.
- Security features including user permission for accessing bank accounts are helpful.
- Integration with the Plaid front-end modules.
- Users can have multiple customization options.
Sign-up for the Plaid APIs here. You can access their API documentation here. They have a free version of their APIs, however, the premium versions naturally offer more features. Access their pricing plan here, however, I advise you to contact their sales team for a detailed overview of their pricing.
Managing your mobile backend:
To expedite your personal finance app development, I recommend that you use an MBaaS provider. This will save time. MBaaS providers manage several aspects, for e.g., infrastructure, database provisioning, and persistent storage. User management, push notifications, security, etc. are easy when you have an MBaaS account. Leading MBaaS providers provide easy options for API integration, furthermore, mobile apps often need to use the microservices architecture for scalability and MBaaS providers make it easy.
There are several good MBaaS providers, for e.g., Google Firebase, AWS Mobile, Kinvey, SashiDo, and Kumolos. Check our comparison guide “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”. You save the effort of hiring mobile backend developers, additionally, you don‘t need to manage the infrastructure.
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Assemble a development team:
You need the following skills in your team:
- Business analysts;
- UX/UI designers;
- iOS and Android developers;
- Project manager.
The PM role is important hence, onboard a PM with knowledge of modern PM methodologies. Check our guide “Top 7 project management methodologies in 2018”.
Managing a personal financial app development project:
I recommend the hugely popular ’Scrum‘ technique, which is tried and tested in the Agile context. The PM will be the ’Scrum master‘, who will lead a small cross-functional team. The team will consist of business analysts, designers, developers, and testers. Another role is that of the ’Product owner‘ (PO), who provides the business requirements, i.e., the list of features.
All features are listed in a ’Product backlog‘ document, subsequently, the team estimates them. Features are prioritized and added to ’Sprints‘, i.e., iterations. During the sprint execution, the scrum master needs to conduct a ’Daily stand-up meeting‘ to get status and resolve issues. Upon completion of features in a sprint, the project sponsors review them in a ’Sprint review meeting‘ and approve them.
The team also conducts a lessons-learned exercise after the sprint, which is called the ’Sprint retrospective meeting‘. Read more about this in our guide “How to build a Scrum development team?”.
Key tools and guidelines for a personal finance app development project:
I recommend you use effective tools for this development project, as follows:
- Tricentis Tosca: This is a well-known test automation tool.
- Gradle DevOps: This will help you with DevOps practices like build management, staging, deployment, etc.
I also recommend that you use a good PM tool like Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). You can check out more examples in our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools”. Also, remember to consult the Android app launch checklist and the Apple app store review guidelines for submitting your app to app stores.
The cost to build a personal finance app:
API providers often list their price on their website, alternatively, you may need to contact them for pricing information. MBaaS providers list their price on their website. Your development manpower cost is influenced by your ’Minimum Viable Product‘ (MVP) features and subsequent enhancements.
Local labor market influences your development manpower cost too. You may need to get professional help, hence, consult our guide “How to find the best software development company?”.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is possible to build a basic finance app for free, however, the question is why would you want to? The quality, including the number of features and the app’s security will be poor. Users will quickly abandon it.
A good quality finance app with lots of features will be quite costly. The exact cost will depend on its purpose and the technologies required etc. Fill in a product specification form on the DevTeam.Space website and you can get an accurate estimate.
DevTeam.Space is a community of expert developers that has built a number of finance applications including blockchain-based ones. If you need great developers, you will find them there.