No doubt, the future looks bright for FinTech; in 2018, global investments into this newly sprung industry have reached $111.8 billion. A recent KMPG report predicts that 2019 will be another big year for the industry with more important deals, the advent of open banking and further expansion across international borders. Along with FinTech, RegTech and InsurTech are also expected to see a substantial rise in investments. In 2019, we will see an enhanced presence of giants like Alibaba, Google, and Microsoft on a FinTech scene. Traditional financial institutions will be adopting FinTech solutions, and more FinTech startups will continue to grow.
This means the demand for custom FinTech solutions will be higher than ever as organizations strive to stay ahead of the curve. However, there are pitfalls on the way to successful FinTech app development. Here’s what you need to consider before building a FinTech software product.
1. Hire or appoint an experienced product owner
FinTech is a complicated field and having a solid understanding of the product, its goals, competition, and the marketplace, in general, is vital to its success. Your FinTech development team needs to have a clear vision of the product and its objectives before the actual development kicks off. You should have a clear understanding of how you’ll be scaling your FinTech product in the future, what featured will have to be added to offer a better user experience, how the product will be monetized, and much more.
So if you don’t have the right person within your organization to act as your FinTech Product Owner, make sure to hire one or promote someone from your team who has enough skills to oversee project development, interact with a development/DevOps team on a daily basis, make research-based predictions and informed decisions, etc.
When looking for a FinTech Product Owner, make sure to pay attention to the following key skills:
A good Product Owner never stops asking questions! They should always be curious to ask top management and investors the “Why” questions and ask development teams the “How” questions. The more answers and insights they get – the higher the chance your FinTech product will have a right set of features and will better cater to your target audiences.
Your Product Owner should clearly communicate the vision between the small backlog items and the larger business goals. They have a copter view of the application and steer the ship forward. They should align the product vision with the company’s vision and needs, and get the right messages across both sales and marketing and development/DevOps teams.
Ability to say “No”
That’s one of the most critical skills required of a good PO. If your Product Owner says “yes” to everything, your FinTech project is doomed to fail or accumulate a huge technical debt that will cost you thousands of dollars to get rid of after your product’s market launch.
Most of the time, they will have to say “no” to the business and their feedback. When dev teams start bringing every single business idea to life, the risk is high they’ll fall victim to creeping featurism and lost focus or launching a product that’s a far cry from what had been planned initially.
That being said, a good FinTech Product Owner should be pragmatic, rational and straightforward, and they should be able to defend their product vision.
2. Laws and regulations
Finance is a highly regulated industry, and the laws differ depending on a country of operation. If you want your FinTech business to be successful, it is crucial that you study the laws of your target country to make sure the product you are about to develop complies with the local regulations and standards. Do so before you plunge deeply in the development process; otherwise, meeting with the resistance of local government may throw you off balance.
If you are doing business in countries that have agreed to launch a regulatory sandbox (UK, USA, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, and Hong Kong), this may apply to you to a lesser extent. Still, it may even make sense to hire an expert knowledgeable in local legislation to help you with legal matters. You want local authorities on your side rather than dealing with fines, restrictions or a ban to do business.
3. Hire software developers experienced in FinTech
This may be harder to achieve than you might have thought it would be. FinTech is a relatively new industry, and experts, proficient in both finance and IT, are rare. Most developers are unfamiliar with financial terms, which means they need extra time to get into the specifics of the product they are building. Make sure that at least a tech lead or a senior software engineer on your software dev team has experience with FinTech projects and can educate others. As you recruit for FinTech, look for people with experience in the adjacent fields (NGO projects, security, insurance) and do pay attention to soft skills such as client-oriented approach and creativity.
Alternatively, hire an offshore dedicated development team or partner with a reliable company experienced in the outsourced FinTech product development. A right outsourcing partner will have access to more extensive talent pools and know how to apply innovative recruiting techniques to find the right staff for your project.
4. Choose the right technology
In FinTech, fast time-to-market is crucial to success. The finance technology industry is highly responsive to regulatory changes, so launching on time, when a product is still relevant, is paramount. The technology you choose should be flexible enough to meet market demands and should allow adding new features fast and adapting to rapidly changing requirements.
According to 2018 Developer Skills Report, the #1 programming language for FinTech is Python, followed by Java, C++, and C#. Python meets the flexibility requirements and allows to add new product features on the go easily. Be read, that once you develop a product prototype, it will have to undergo significant changes. If you’re not sure which technology to choose, hire FinTech development consultants to put you on the right track. This is one of the most important choices which cannot be undone.
5. Focus on security
In FinTech development, you can never be too cautious when it comes to security. FinTech apps work with customers’ financial and other sensitive data, and in case of security breaches, the consequences may be dire. Everyone on your team should be dedicated to protecting customer information and assets. Introduce security policies and make every member of your development team stick to them.
Keep the existing country regulations in mind as you determine the right service architecture and decide on the data protection controls (encryption, firewalls, authentication, etc.). Do all you can to avoid lawsuits for overlooking security loopholes.
6. Introduce unparalleled usability and design
People increasingly demand excellent user experiences, and FinTech solutions are no exclusion. Remember that great design and top-notch user experience add value to a product to the point that customers may choose your competitors with better app interface. Plan for design development in advance and make sure the application you are building is not only functional but also has unsurpassed usability and engaging interface.
Great usability, though, is never limited to user experience in FinTech. There are at least two parties that an excellent FinTech product should cater to: the customer and the service provider. Think about the user experience on the service provider side. Does it provide a convenient interface and robust functionality?
In today’s AI-driven world, all applications should provide user experiences as personalized as possible, but FinTech apps need to go the extra mile with regard to personalization to attract and retain users. Progressive web technologies such as AI, machine learning, and AR/VR make personalization unique. Make sure your FinTech app contains machine learning algorithms that will explore each particular user’s in-app behavior and provide person-based value propositions based on user-specific preferences and goals. Building an AI-based robo advisor or a voice assistant for your FinTech product will definitely take your product’s UX to the next quality level.
8. Consider third-party integrations
The goal of FinTech is to simplify the use of financial services and ensure better and smoother user experience. To fully meet these standards, an excellent FinTech product should easily integrate with third-party services such as application API’s, development tools and support channels. For example, a mobile banking app that allows users to order air tickets with their smartphones should integrate with the ticket service. The same goes for mortgages, insurances, and even online shopping. Think about third-party services you want to integrate with your product and what you can do to make this integration as smooth and seamless as possible.
Start your FinTech project with a consistent vision, a complete backlog and a clear understanding of local laws and regulatory restrictions. This will ensure the FinTech app development journey you embark on will bring no disruptions or unpleasant surprises. Hire an experienced dedicated development team, and make sure their hard and soft skill sets are well-balanced and match the product requirements. Develop with third-party integration in mind, never overlook usability and design, and always focus on user experience. FinTech app development is challenging, but you can avoid obstacles and pitfalls if you stick to the above guidelines.