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How to Build an Investment App Like Acorns

How to Create an Investment App Like Acorns?

Estimated read time: 6 minutes
Aran Davies

Aran Davies

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Creating an investment mobile app is a development project. You need to do the following:

  1. Develop the UI of the mobile app. Your UI/UX designers should know relevant Mobile navigation menu examples. Your Android and iOS developers need to develop the front-end for the respective platforms.
  2. Common functions can be built using investment ‘Application Programming Interfaces’ (APIs). This saves some development effort.
  3. You can expedite the creation of the investment mobile app by using a ‘Mobile Backend as a Service’ (MBaaS) provider. More on this later.
  4. Test the app thoroughly.
  5. Publish in the app stores. For ‘Google Play’ and ‘Apple App Store’, check the respective guidelines here, and here.

APIs to develop an investment mobile app

In this section, I will describe a few API options for building an investment mobile app. Depending on your requirements, you might need to combine more than one option.

API option #1: Plaid API to connect bank accounts to the app

Plaid offers API for developers to implement the key function of connecting a bank account to the app. Access their API here. Banking and brokerage are a few key use cases of these APIs, and you can learn more about it here.

You can review the API documentation here. Their quick start guides are here. To get their pricing details, visit their pricing page. Contact them for more information.

API option #2: Xignite Market Data Feed and API

Xignite provides market data feed APIs. These can help you with the market data feed functionality of your investment mobile app. They provide the market data feed for a variety of investment instruments, e.g., equities, funds, ETFs, fixed income instruments, indices, futures, options trading feeds, forex data feeds, commodities feeds like metals, derivatives, etc.

They have a wide range of data sources, including exchanges, data vendors, and public data sources like SEC. Learn more about their data sources here. The company provides cloud-based real-time, historical, master, and fundamentals data. Read more about this here.

Access their entire developer documentation here. Visit their pricing page for details about their flexible pricing plans. Contact their sales team to buy their APIs.

API option #3: Ally Invest APIs

Ally offers their investment APIs that you can use in your mobile app. With this, you can offer features for self-directed trading, and managed-portfolio in the app.

Some of the features are as follows:

  • Streaming charts;
  • Market and company snapshots;
  • Watchlists;
  • Option chains;
  • Profile/loss calculator;
  • Probability calculator;
  • Market data.

Access their API documentation here. The documentation is comprehensive. For e.g., it includes the following:

  • Security;
  • OAuth;
  • Trading;
  • Account calls;
  • Order/trade calls;
  • Market calls;
  • Member calls;
  • Watchlist calls.

The above list is not exhaustive. Contact them for their API pricing plans.

API option #4: Quandl API for stock data

Quandl is a well-known source of financial, and economic data. They offer their APIs for stock data. You can include the following data in your investment mobile app with their APIs:

  • End-of-day stock prices;
  • Historical stock fundamental data;
  • Harmonized fundamentals;
  • Financial ratios;
  • Indexes;
  • Options and volatility;
  • Earnings estimates;
  • Analyst ratings;
  • Investor sentiments.

The data is available in various organizations, e.g., time-series, and tables. Their databases include US stock prices, US stock fundamentals, financial ratios, global stock data, etc. Access their APIs here. You can access their comprehensive API documentation here. Sign-up for their APIs and contact them for their pricing plans.

How to manage the mobile backend for the investment app

I have addressed the mobile front-end and APIs for key functions above. However, you also need to address the mobile backend. You can develop the mobile backend and manage everything including the infrastructure, however, it’s time-consuming.

I recommend using an MBaaS provider. They manage key aspects of the mobile backend, e.g.:

  • Infrastructure;
  • Database;
  • Persistent storage;
  • Security;
  • User management;
  • API integration;

This enables you to focus on the front-end and key business functionalities, therefore, you can get a better ‘Time to market’. There are several MBaaS vendors like AWS for Mobile, Google Firebase, Kinvey, etc. You can consult our comparison guide “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” for more details.

Mobile investment app development: Important tools

I recommend you use effective tools for this end-to-end development project. You should consider a good test automation tool. There are many such reputed tools. ‘TestComplete’ is a good choice.

A mobile app is a ‘System of Engagement’ (SoE). Such applications undergo frequent updates and enhancements. You need a good tool to seamlessly manage build and deployment. There are quite a few such tools, for e.g., ‘Maven’ is a reputed tool for this.

A project team for the mobile investment app development project

SoEs require iterative development, therefore, ‘Agile’ is a good project management methodology for these. You should build an Agile team for this project. Consider our guide “How to build an Agile development team” for more details.

You need to assemble a team with the following skills:

  • Business analysts;
  • UI/UX designers;
  • iOS developers;
  • Android developers;

You also need a competent project manager (PM), who should know project management best practices. While I recommend that you co-locate your team, sometimes you may need to work with a remote team. The PM should know how to manage a remote team. Our guide “10 essential tips to managing remote employees” can help.

Project management approach for investment app development

‘Scrum’ is a well-known iterative development technique within the larger body of Agile methodology. I recommend this technique for this project. The PM acts as a ‘Scrum master’, whereas a ‘Product owner’ (PO) provides the features or requirements in a document called the ‘Product backlog’.

The scrum team estimates the features, and the scrum master plans ‘Sprints’, i.e., iterations based on this estimation. The team first builds the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP), and then enhances it in further sprints. During the project execution, the scrum team conducts a ‘Daily stand-up meeting’. This meeting is to discuss the project status, additionally, the scrum master uses it for issue resolution.

When the features are ready, the scrum team conducts a ‘Sprint review meeting’. Features are demonstrated in this meeting, which enables the project stakeholders to approve the features. The team also conducts a lessons-learned exercise, and it’s called the ‘Sprint retrospective meeting’. You can find more information about this technique in our guide “How to build a Scrum development team”.

You should also consider effective project management tools for this project. Zoho is a good option. You can find more choices for PM tools in our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools”.

The cost to develop a mobile investment app

MBaaS providers display their prices on their website. You need to contact the API providers to get their pricing plans. You also incur the development manpower cost, which depends on your requirements and the labor rate in your local labor market.

Since this is an end-to-end development project, you may need to get professional help if don’t have access to a skilled development team and a PM. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you to find a good development partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an investment app?

It is a software application that allows the user to manage their investment portfolio. Once registered, users can choose to invest in stocks and bonds.

What is the best investment app?

Charles Schwab is an excellent investment app that also doubles up as a bank with zero fees on foreign transactions. It allows you to invest in the stock market and other assets such as bonds.

Where to find investment app developers?

If you are looking for experienced developers then head to the DevTeam.Space platform. After submitting a project specification form you will be matched with the most relevant developers for your project.


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