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Invest in Your Finance App's Future With These 7 Development and Design Tips

February 20, 2018

Since Early Warning Serviceslaunchedits standalone app, Zelle, last fall, Apple and Android users have been cashing in on easy, no-cost bank transfers.

Supported by more than 30 banks, from large players such as USAA, PNC, and Wells Fargo to more obscure ones like the First Citizens National Bank of Upper Sandusky, the fintech app has quickly found friends. It's not tough to see why, either. After signing up with just an email address or mobile number, users can transfer up to $2,500 at a time and even split payments. Because it works directly with major banks, Zelle payments clear in near-real time and feature state-of-the-art fraud protection.

Zelle's biggest leg up on industry leader PayPal, however, is its totally free transfers — a service for which PayPal charges 25 cents per pop. Thanks to its value proposition, sensible user interface, and bank relationships, Zelle is rapidly rising through fintech's ranks.

Banking on Better Design and Development

So how can your financial firm hit a Zelle-level home run with its own fintech app? Step up to the plate with these seven development and design tips:

1. Invest in the right platforms.

The mobile world is a lot like the stock market — it's in a constant state of flux. New devices are debuting all the time while old ones are updated monthly or even weekly. An app might work great on one, but with the next iteration, its performance might plummet.

Don't try to keep up with every device. Discover which ones your user base is using, and target your app to those. In the case of finance apps, Android receives more installs and registrations. iOS, however, generates more revenue-producing users and, therefore,costs creators 21.2 percent less to acquire each user.

Once you've chosen your platforms, prepare to iterate. Apple and Google generally release changes to developers ahead of time so they have time to tweak their apps for users. Giving your app regular checkups prevents problems from compounding and, as a result, becoming costlier to fix.

2. Get designers and developers on the same page.
Why did Millennial users mourn the August 2017 demise of budgeting app Level Money? Because it made managing money so much easier than any other app of its day. Supported in the latter half of its life by Capital One, known for its whole-company embrace of agile design and development, Level Money featured an elegantly simple user experience and minimalist user interface.

A Level Money-level user experience takes tight collaboration between designers and developers. Apps built by siloed teams tend to lack design focus and undergo too many design development cycles. Working together, designers and developers can use tools like Xcode and Android Studio to tweak animations, perfect images, and polish layouts.

3. Maximize offline usability.

Consumers spend more than 90 percent of their time on mobile devices using apps, which translates to almost 3.5 hours per day. So be sure your app is accessible to its entire user base, whether they live in urban Seattle or central Alaska. 

To be sure, many finance app features, such as checking a bank balance, require an internet connection. But what about features such as budgeting tools or currency converters? If users in rural areas can't reliably use your app, they're going to go elsewhere to manage their money.

4. Buy back time with a CMS.

Sometimes, the smallest things can become the biggest hassles for app designers and developers. The App Store has been known to turn down apps for misleading descriptions, missing images, and more. Turn to a CMS for clearer communication between teams, storage of elements like photos and text, and faster bug fixes.

OnBase has found a lot of friends in the financial services industry because it's built specifically for enterprises creating transaction-related content. Beyond simply storing documents, this CMS enables scalable management of processes and tasks.

5. Prepare to be popular.

Usage of business and financial apps grew by a third in 2017, and in the same year, fintech’s top five apps in the U.S. had 6.5 million monthly users. How much traffic can your app support with its back-end infrastructure? Could it survive user interactions in the millions? Wells Fargo's app counted nearly 6 million customer engagements last year, up from 3.8 million in 2013. Users will question the security of an app that stalls or crashes, so beware that your app might be in for a bull phase.

6. Bankrupt bugs.

Bugs are a fact of life in app design and development, and they're much more important to squash in banking than, say, retail. Once your users start to see them, 90 percent will abandon a finance app, while 62 percent will question the security of your app.

Set aside time after release to do a sweep for bugs, especially those that might affect transactions. Diagnose problems quickly by user error-reporting tools such as Sentry or Crashlytics.

7. Shoot for the spotlight.

Consumers don't share their financial information with apps they don't trust. The best way to build that trust is by getting featured by one or more app stores, so work your connections at Apple or Google. Both companies look for apps with an exemplary user experience and "nice to haves" like clear descriptions and smart interfaces.

Google Play, for example, recently featured Robinhood, a stock-trading app geared toward Millennials. The finance app's featured status has undoubtedly contributed to the fact that it's closing in on 3 million accounts, rivaling industry heavyweight E*TRADE.

We get it: Building an app is no small investment, especially given the compliance challenges that come with financial software. So check out our free whitepaper, "The Ultimate Guide to Mobile App Design & Development," for insights into app strategy, design, development, marketing, and more. If you're still struggling, reach out, and we'll get your app back in the black in no time.

is a CEO + Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.

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