How to Build a Personal Finance App in 2022 [a Step-by-Step Guide]

2226 Updated 09.22.2022
Vasyl Polych

Founder & CEO at Northell

5/5

Table of contents

Personal finance app development is a popular trend driven by the need to optimize resources, track expenses, and maintain financial stability. Technology has a lot to offer when it comes to high-level finances optimization, advanced analytics, and forecasting. From budget planners to investment apps, the technology-led fintech solutions help users manage their bank accounts, credit cards, investments, and income without effort.

To build a high-quality and compatible app, there are essential nuances you should know before investing in it. Let us help you consider how to build a personal finance app development by explaining:

  • Finance app development process’ specifics
  • Types of personal finance apps
  • Northell’s practical cases
  • Key features list
  • Costs you need to build a profitable fintech solution
  • Pro tips for outsourcing remote fintech development teams

So, take a break and enjoy our guide!

Getting started with personal finance app development

Before jumping into personal finance app development, the critical step is researching the fintech market and studying your competitors.

According to Statista, the total transaction value is expected to show an annual growth rate of 13.74% resulting in a projected total amount of US$3.42tn by 2026. According to Allied Market Research, the personal finance software market is projected to reach $1,576.86 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2020 to 2027. These forecasts confirm the steady growth of the global personal finance management market in the upcoming years.

By researching the competitors, you can find plenty of banking apps, fintech chatbots, budgeting apps, and crypto wallets. In today’s finance app market, the most popular apps are:

  • Mint – a personal finance management app
  • Mvelopes – a personal finance app for tracking a household and personal budget
  • EveryDollar – a budgeting and expense tracker tool
  • Wally – a smart personal finance app for tracking accounts, spending, and budgets
  • AWSM bank – is a Neobank app for kids designed to help parents control money transactions remotely

From online banking to voice payments, the technology allows satisfying your end users’ needs the way you need.

Backed by market statistics, you can join the market leaders and monetize your financial app idea easily. The only thing left is to choose the right approach and a professional team of experienced developers to help realize your finance app idea efficiently.

What is a personal finance app?

A personal finance app is a piece of software that allows users to keep track of their finances through an online interface or mobile device. With personal finance software, users can get the desired analytical output and manage their budgets wisely.

Depending on your target user’s needs you seek to meet, the personal finance apps can provide such important functions as:

  • Facilitate smart budgeting and accounting
  • Provide helpful insights about money management
  • Get financial reports
  • Monitor spending and earnings
  • Make online transactions and payments securely
  • Increase financial literacy
  • Invest wisely

How to build personal finance apps: Types

Types of personal finance apps

Types of personal finance apps

Before diving into figuring out how to build a personal finance app, consider the types of apps. Clients have many financial needs that different personal finance apps can target. Let’s discuss some of them.

Budget planners. These solutions help customers meet their financial goals. Such type of a personal finance app allows planning monthly cash flow. Users set how much money they want to spend and save for other purposes.

Investment apps. These solutions enable customers to make money work and bring profits. The most significant advantage is that customers shouldn’t be aware of investment rules. With the help of these personal finance apps, they can make micro-investments based on how they choose to invest when signing in to the app.

The Northell team recently worked on the development of StockApp, a personal finance app accessible to both experienced investors and beginners that allows them to manage and track their investments.

Peer-to-peer payments apps. Personal finance apps can be connected to customers’ financial accounts, enabling them to pay for services and products. Such solutions allow businesses to receive payments directly to a business account.

Money management apps. Such solutions allow customers to manage their cash flow by classifying and tracking expenses. This type of personal finance app helps with financial planning by giving you a clear idea of ​​how much you earn, how much you spend, and what you might need to change.

Financial management software. All types of finance apps are run with financial management software. However, these solutions aim to teach users financial literacy by effectively managing their money and suggesting adjustments to optimize saving money.

Banking apps. One example from Northell’s experience is AWSM Bank. It’s a Neobank app for kids designed to help parents control money transactions remotely. The peculiarity of this platform is the built-in functionality for teaching children financial literacy.

Financial forecasting apps. Based on users’ cash flow and financial goals, these solutions can perform financial data analytics and offer workable recommendations. Based on AI-based forecasting app features, businesses can estimate future profits and expenses to plan their financial resources wisely.

Spending tracker apps. Finance tracking apps may require manual data entry or be linked to users’ digital bank accounts to track expenses automatically. These solutions enable users to understand their spending habits and learn how to balance income and expenses.

Key features users expect from personal finance apps in 2022

When you’re digging to figure out how to start a finance app, you have to consider the required minimum feature set demanded by the market. However, to get on the fintech software leaderboard, you must meet customer needs slightly more than expected. How exactly?

Let’s discuss the key features that will entice users to choose your personal finance solution over top competitors.

Personalization

Personalization features are a core component of today’s positive customer experience. This results in higher user engagement and retention. Thus, personal finance apps should offer various customization features. You can add helpful chatbots or advanced analytics tools to your solution that cater to specific customer needs in real-time. It will make your app convenient and meaningful to users who will be able to solve unique problems using your app.

Data visualization

Data visualization helps make financial client data easy to read and understand. In terms of the financial industry, there are a lot of complex procedures and details that can easily confuse users. Keep simplicity and clear data visualization by developing customized dashboards. You can also display the data with interactive infographics and charts.

Focus on security

When dealing with sensitive customer data, high-level security and financial standards compliance must be overseen. Elaborate on providing a high-level app’s security and standards compliance since your app will have direct access to users’ financial accounts. The most common security practices are:

  • Incorporate biometrics and two-factor authentication (2FA) to verify logins and authorize users
  • Comply with data protection standards such as GDPR and PSI DSS
  • Check your app’s ISO 270001 certification (information security management system according to international standards)
  • Make sure your application complies with your county’s regulations. For example, anti-money laundering (AML), securities and exchange commission (SEC),electronic fund transfer act (EFTA), electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS), fintech action plan (FAP)
  • Encrypt the sensitive data to prevent any frauds
  • Conduct regular security audits

If any questions left behind, build a secure application infrastructure by consulting with a dedicated software development team!

AI and ML technologies

If you can afford to supplement your personal finance app development with AI and ML elements, take this chance. Using these features, you’ll be able to offer your users AI-based chatbots, smart expense categorization, and high-level analytics. It can also be a way to personalize the user experience through unique features with automatic updates and daa analysis.

Advanced functionality

Basic functionality is a must-have for each type of personal finance app. However, the more advanced analytics tools your app provides, the more accurately you’ll be able to meet your users’ needs by helping them manage their finances with financial forecasts and budgeting hints. Your app can also handle complex financial procedures and offer detailed analytical reports or smart savings tips.

Gamification

Gamification is another way to make users engaged with your app. There are gamified money apps that motivate users to achieve their financial goals faster. User experience gamification involves the addition of game elements such as scoring systems, rewards, and achievement gifts when a user reaches certain financial goals.

Great user experience

A smooth and interactive user experience motivates customers to use your finance solution. To provide a great user experience, you should develop clear and easy-to-navigate user interfaces. The look and feel of your app have to match the customer’s needs to help them manage their finances efficiently.

Northell uses the UX Eye Tracker tool that helps analyze how users interact with the interface and uncover the product’s usability gaps. Using this tool, we help our customers create UX-optimized and user-friendly apps.

Help and support

There are many problems your users can encounter when dealing with your app: usage problems or financial issues. Some leading financial apps provide a 24/7 chatbot to help clients get their needed answers. Constant customer support in different languages is an excellent way to keep your customers loyal and increase the app’s user base.

How to build personal finance app: Northell’s case study

StockApp

StockApp

StockApp is a personal finance app that allows investors to manage and track their investments and get more out of their investment journey. This application kills two birds with one stone: both novice and experienced investors can handle and track their investments using a single platform.

Challenges:

  • Develop a solid UI design and built-in advanced features that enable investors to view data on holdings with current prices, daily changes in value, and its overall percentage weight
  • Build a single platform for both novice and experienced investors
  • Create an easy-to-navigate and compelling UX that visualizes investment data with interactive charts

Solution:

The Northell team has successfully developed certain app features:

  • Tracking the performance of stocks
  • Setting goals for short-term and long-term portfolios
  • Interactive diversification charts
  • Easy management of stocks
  • Ability to change the way the stocks are listed
  • Data on returns and percentage weight

Our team has managed to design and develop an IOS mobile app that allows beginners and professional investors to make the most out of their investment journey.

Investors can easily access the data they need and track the overall performance of an investment portfolio using advanced features developed by the Northell team.

Must-have features to build a personal finance app in 2022

Considering how to start a finance app, keep in mind developing a basic feature list before offering your customers something unique.

Authorization and user profile

Users must sign in and enter their personal data to run a personal finance app. After entering the data, users can fill in their personal profiles and start using the app. Authorization and security should be put a high priority. So, ensure you’ve implemented best practices (2FA, biometrics) to protect users’ financial accounts from unauthorized access.

Expenses categorization

A personal finance app can provide spending categories that automatically categorize users’ transactions, allowing them to track spending efficiently. Every time a user makes a transaction through a financial account, these expenses fall into a certain category:

  • Bills and utilities
  • Groceries and shopping malls
  • Auto and Transport
  • Child care and the like

Smart budgeting

The budgeting option helps users plan their expenses over a certain period. The application will send a notification once the user exceeds the set spending limit.

Integrations with banks and payment systems

Your application must access all users’ financial accounts to allow users to manage their money effectively. In such a way, all financial information can be automatically entered into the app database. You can also connect payment platforms such as PayPal and Apple Pay so users can make payments directly from your app.

Notifications

Alerts and notifications are vital features that help users stay aware of the following:

  • Low balance
  • Upcoming bills to pay
  • Special offers for making a deal or investing
  • Overspending
  • Suspicious transactions and the like

In-app search

In-app search is an important feature that helps users easily navigate the app and find any information they might need.

Calculator

The in-app calculator allows users to automatically see their shopping habits and make calculations without switching between apps.

Reporting and analytics

As we have already mentioned, reporting and analytics are essential for visualization to make the interaction with the application user-friendly. These features help customers keep a clear track of their financial activities to manage and save money easily. With well-organized data, users can get daily or annual reports to analyze income or expenses, view forecasts, and more.

How to build a personal finance app in 9 steps?

How to build a personal finance app in 9 steps

How to build a personal finance app in 9 steps

Like any other app, personal finance app development consists of standard product development stages. Each of these stages has different goals and activities that serve the same purpose — to develop a fully-functional and high-quality finance solution. Let’s explore the key steps to understand how to start a finance app development.

Step 1. Hire a development team

If you don’t have enough in-house resources to develop your financial solution, or if you run into costly issues along the way, consider hiring a dedicated software development team.

In such a way, you can avoid the development and management burden while ensuring the solution is in line with fintech industry regulations and your business goals. Collaborating with an experienced team will provide you with an already mature development process and highly-committed team to make all critical jobs done on time.

At Northell, we offer our customers the best technologies, tools, and practices to implement the idea right. From developing a unique value proposition, we support development through final deployment and post-release support.

Doubt about outsourcing fintech software development? Learn how to master fintech software development outsourcing the right way!

Step 2. Define your niche audience

Start with identifying your target audience to understand your users’ pain points and problems they may face. Once you know a user persona – you’ll be able to address the best solutions your product will offer, identify the feature set and build an effective marketing plan.

The tasks you need to do during this step:

  1. Thoroughly analyze direct competitors
  2. Analyze your target audience
  3. Come up with the benefits your personal finance app will provide to outperform your competitors
  4. Develop a clear user flow
  5. Decide on must-have functionality
  6. Choose the best tech stack required to build app features

Useful tip: Target markets with low entry barriers to have a better chance of success (e.g. students, freelancers, etc.)

Step 3. Start with MVP

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the way businesses validate their business idea and test demand for a product with minimal investment. In such a highly-competitive market, it’s better to understand how to start a finance app small. With only basic functionality and a limited budget, you can see if your personal finance app idea is viable.

Building an MVP is the most optimal to:

  • Gather your target audience feedback
  • Test your product on real users
  • Prioritize the list of features for the next development stages
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Get your first return on investment (ROI) if your idea is worthy

Step 4. Choose tech stack

Once you have an idea of a personal finance app’s features and understand how to build a personal finance app, you can start choosing the tools and technologies you’ll need to bring this solution to life.

The Northell team offers to use the following tech stack to develop finance products:

Task Technologies required 
Product requirements  Discovery workshops with G-Suite representatives 
Design and prototypes  Figma, Adobe XD, InVision, Sketch 
Frontend development  Markup and programming languages – HTML, CSS, or JavaScript 

Frameworks – React.js, Vue.js

Backend development  Programming languages – Ruby, C++, PHP

Frameworks – Node.js, PHP (Laravel)

Database  MongoDB

For an IOS-based app:

  • Programing languages: Swift
  • Toolkit: Apple Xcode
  • SDK: IOS SDK

For an Android-based app:

  • Programing languages: Kotlin
  • Toolkit: Android Studio
  • SDK: Android SDK

Wonder how to build a personal finance app that meets your tech requirements? Contact us.

Step 5. Choose monetization strategy

To understand how to start a finance app, think of a monetization strategy. Choosing an effective revenue strategy is a way you will monetize your business. The most common ways of monetizing personal finance apps are:

  1. Freemium strategy. Under this monetization strategy, your app may offer a certain set of features for free, while more advanced features require additional purchase.
  2. Advertising and in-app purchases. Your app can provide users with financial products from partners, e.g., insurance, deposits, or loans, based on pop-up ads. These ads may come from AI recommendations based on the user’s spending habits. In-app purchases will require payment gateway integration.
  3. Selling financial data. Personal finance apps can collect and process general information about consumer behavior, income, spending, and savings. You can legally sell this information to other companies for promotional, research, and marketing purposes. It is important to note that this information is general in nature and does not contain personal data.
  4. Paid app. This model implies giving your users a full feature list after purchasing your app just once.
  5. Subscriptions. This monetization method pushes users to pay a monthly fee to use all of the app’s features.

Step 6. Move to UX/UI

To create an interactive and user-friendly UX and UI, create an intuitive user flow, and consider switching between screens.

Efficient UX/UI means:

  • User-friendliness to make user interaction simple and clear
  • Minimum steps in the app navigation
  • Onboarding with valuable tips to teach users how to use your features. This will help you to improve the user experience and engage users from the very first screen
  • Keeping up with 0UX/UI trends is important for understanding the preferences and styles that users adopt the most.

Useful tip: A simple user interface is key to achieving a convenient UX design. Balance simplicity with attractive elements, use simple language and don’t overwhelm users with distracting elements.

Step 7. Develop

The development part requires qualified specialists and expertise to implement all the app features correctly. When the scope of work is approved, the developers begin to implement the features of the financial application step by step based on the chosen tech stack.

Step 8. Test your product

Employ manual and automated testing to check functional and non-functional parts of your finance app. Through manual testing, QAs can discover bugs during the earliest stages of the software development cycle, while automated testing helps achieve immediate product feedback and increase test coverage. Involve testers in the core development cycle to ensure risks are mitigated timely.

Essential types of testing you need to apply:

  • Security testing
  • Data integrity
  • Usability testing
  • Functional testing
  • Performance testing

Step 9. Launch your app and keep maintenance

Once everything is checked, launch your finance app to production environments. Provide follow-up application support to resolve product inconsistencies, fix bugs, and continue updating.

Useful tip: Don’t forget to promote your app the way you want: through social media, SEO-optimized content, paid ads, etc. Also, to avoid publishing issues, make sure you deploy your product as recommended by the Apple Store or Google Play.

After all the steps are done, you can clearly understand how to build a personal finance app.

Northell’s pro tips for outsourcing a personal finance app development

The first step to understanding how to build a personal finance app is assembling a professional team. If you outsource a personal finance management app development, there are a few tips you should be aware of to ensure a successful and timely release. We’ve compiled several important tips to help you manage your development team right.

Choose the collaboration model

Depending on the relationship-based outsourcing development approach, the most popular models of outsourcing are:

  • Staff augmentation.
  • Project-based product development outsourcing

Staff augmentation is the way you can extend your in-house team with your outsourcing partner’s engineering talent for how long you need. Simply put, if you lack specific software specialists, you can turn to an outsourcer for the missing specialists so that they can perform your project’s tasks. Under this model, the overall responsibility for achieving results is on the client.

Project-based product development outsourcing transfers most of the responsibility for the project to the outsourcing service provider. Your outsourcing partner manages the product development process according to the specifications and deadlines provided, owning the project from start to finish.

The choice of collaboration model plays a big role in effective and result-oriented collaboration and successful project outcomes. Thus, we offer our customers both of these outsourcing models to obtain guaranteed results and quality, regardless of business needs.

Define the scope of work, deadlines, and budget

If you’ve decided to collaborate with an offshore finance app development company, consider defining the scope of work, deadlines, and budget. Creating a delivery plan containing a specific budget and timeframe is crucial for a successful outsourcing experience. In such a way, you can reduce project risks and ensure the work is done according to your product expectations.

Establish transparent communication

Under transparent communication, we mean you need to get a clear picture of what communication channels and workflow mechanisms you will need to guide the personal finance app development.

A transparent workflow allows you to eliminate risks, check the team’s progress and remain on the same page with your outsourcing partner. Many useful online tools can help communicate with your development team easily. Examples are:

  • Project management tool (Jira, Trello)
  • Task management tool (ClickUp)
  • Digital visualization tool (Figma, Moqups, InVision)
  • Communication tools (Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts)
  • Developer tools (GitHub, Bitbucket)

Manage your team effectively

Efficient team management influence the overall project progress and high team commitment. There are many practical methods that will help you manage your team and achieve positive results. For example, proper use of collaboration tools, team building activities, holding regular team meetings, etc.

For more information on effective team hiring and management, read our article: How To Hire An App Developer Without Mistakes? [Complete 2022 Guide]

How much does it cost to develop a personal finance app?

The cost of developing a personal finance app depends on many factors:

  • Business model
  • Features package
  • Expected time to market
  • Development approach
  • Team location
  • Team size
  • Team expertise
  • Hiring model

Below, you can see a comparison table to help you understand the costs for personal finance app development divided by the outsourcing region and project stage.

Rough project costs

Rough project costs

Rough project timelines.

Below you can also see Northell’s timeline calculations based on project size and stage.

Our work estimate

Our work estimate

Learn how to build a personal finance app with the Northell team. Book a demo with your personal project manager and share your project needs!

How to build a personal finance app: Conclusion

When you know how to build a personal finance app right, you can achieve the highest quality results, make the most of available project resources, and reduce overhead. Turning to handy guides that provide a must-have pre-development checklist makes you more likely to stay ahead of the high competition and properly cater to your target audience’s needs.

The Northell team has successful experience in working on fintech projects. So, if you’re looking for finance app developers to assist you during personal finance app development, contact us to get an estimate for your project!

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