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How to Create an Investment App: Features and Costs

Free trading is becoming popular: people like to have control over their investment strategies and pick the instruments they use. Brand new investors are mobile and they like the ability to manage their investments on the go. That is why more and more entrepreneurs wonder how to create an investment app.

An investment app can be a good business idea, we are going to prove it to you in this article by providing relevant statistics, success stories and monetization strategies for this type of app.

Reading time: 14 minutes

Table of contents

Key takeaways

    • Investment apps generated $22,8 billion of revenue in 2021, and the number is growing
    • Types of investment apps: “DIY” with no analysis for users, “Robo-assist” with AI analysis, and “Human advisor apps” with analytics done by people. Some apps mix these approaches
    • Apart from having basic features such as notifications and support, investment apps need to be integrated with financial systems and KYC and AML
    • The investment app development costs about $66 365.

Investing apps market overview

Statista counted that about 55% of Americans hold long-term investments. And according to Visual Capitalist, the world’s stock market amounted to $89,5 trillion in 2020. That’s a huge market revolutionized by informational technologies: now trading is as easy as ordering food. 

Investment apps themselves are great profit-makers: stock trading apps generated $22,8,billion revenue in 2021. And the interest in the apps is only growing: Google's research shows that investing and stock-related app searches, such as “penny stock trading app” and “investment mobile apps,” have risen 115% YOY.

growth of revenue for investment apps

Investment apps revenue increases with a cumulative grow of 38,7%

Moreover, 84% of people would like to consolidate all their financial activities in one place. However, there are already several types of investment apps, 81% of users want additional digital features.

As you can see, investment app development is a prospective area for business. Although the market may seem crowded with different investment platforms, there’s still a huge demand for targeted solutions. For example, an easy to use app for beginners with plenty of educational features. Or an expert application with recommendations on long-term investments or advanced analytic tools.  

Creating a popular investment app is possible even without innovations. Existing investment solutions aren’t flawless, so you can always provide a better user experience and a more up-to-date design.

Users are waiting for proper online investment opportunities to appear and help them to grow their capital. Take a chance to blow up the market with a brand-new investment platform.

Types of investment apps

The main function of an investing app is to help people manage their investments. While all these apps work in the same way, we can categorize them by the amount of help provided in the app for the users. There are five types of investment apps.

Banking apps

Banking or “do it yourself” apps that have  almost no help for users. This kind of  app provides only basic information about stocks like their price, the minimum amount of purchase but no built-in analytics or investment strategy advice. The huge advantage of such apps is that they combine different financial activities in one place. This way  users can manage their income, daily spending, and online investments, using just one app.

Examples: Wells Fargo, Chase Mobile.

screen of an investment app

A DIY investment app should support basic operations: portfolio outlook, investing transactions and instrument data monitoring

Robo-advisors

This kind of app is strengthened by an artificial intelligence (AI) analyzing market trends on the basis of historical data. After a simple analysis of a user’s behavior and preferences, AI can provide options on how to optimize the investment strategy and create more value from trading.

Examples: Wealthfront, Betterment.

 screens of robo-assist app

Indonesian company Bibit is an example of robo-assist app: an AI helps to improve investment strategy on the basis of risk tolerance and an amount of money a user would like to earn

Hybrid

These apps combine advantages of the first two types. A user can rely on technologies or make their own decisions about the types of investments. Creating an investment app like this seems like a smart option, as it meets a larger number of customer needs for online investment. But keep in mind that an app with a diverse feature list requires more time and finances to develop.

Examples: Fidelity Go, M1 Finance.

Fidelity Go investment app

Fidelity Go helps users with making well-informed choices

Human advisor apps

These are the most luxurious ones. All the analytics are done by real people with relevant education and experience, to help customers make informed investment decisions. That can be a killer-feature for an investing app: users are ready to pay more in order to get a piece of personalized and professional investment advice right in their smartphone.

Examples: Betterment, Vanguard.

Vanguard investment app

Vanguard investment app

Exchange platforms

Sometimes people also use exchange platforms as investment applications. For example, if they want to diversify their portfolios with the help of a wide range of tradable assets, such as stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrencies. If you decide to build an exchange platform with investment application features, we recommend including market research and analysis tools, portfolio and risk management.

Examples: Binance, Coinbase.

Binance exchange platform with investment app elements

Binance exchange platform

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Features of investment apps

There are several features that should be in an investment app.  They either provide basic functions or create a unique customer experience and distinguish your online investment platform in the market.

Registration and onboarding

Not every user is The Wolf of Wall Street: some of them will definitely need a trial account in order to polish their investment skills. Provide a learning onboarding module or create a knowledge base. For example, in our project with BKS, we have created a knowledge base in the frame of frequently asked questions. Learn more in our case.

screen of Fintarget

A knowledge base should provide information about platform functions, financial instruments and investment strategies — that is a sensible way to build trust and support your users

Personal profile

User’s profile should contain basic information: name, surname, portfolio status, trading and investment results for a day and the whole period of an app usage.

A personal profile in an investment app

User profile in the Fintarget investment app, designed by Purrweb

Transaction management

Buying, selling, cash in, cash out… Investors like to have full and transparent information about their money flow. Develop an investment service that helps users manage transactions, with a clear and user-friendly interface.

transaction management in an investment app

Transaction management screens designed by Purrweb

Integration with financial system

Users prefer to deposit their money in different services: banks, e-wallets, crypto wallets and so on. Your app should support a money deposit from as many services as possible. The more services your app supports, the wider your target audience will be. Consider it, when building an investment app.

Features for different instruments

Today, there are lots of financial instruments: crypto, hedge, futures, currencies, ETFs. The more of them will be available in your app, the more popular your app will be. 

Analytics

Market analysis and basic instrument data is a must-have feature for any investing app. Your users will utilize it in order to get the information they need for decision making and investment strategy development.

screens of an investment app

Your investment app should provide different kinds of analytics, for example instruments’ price fluctuation and portfolio dashboard

News and social feeds

You can broaden the investment market analytics dashboards by customized news feed. Provide an opportunity to subscribe to favorite instruments, companies or industries’ news. That will create a more thoughtful connection between a user and your service and increase the value for users provided by the app. 

A news feed in an investment app

An example of a news feed in an investment app

KYC and AML integration

Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering integration is a must for investment app compliance. Consult a lawyer on the details and extra regulation you should consider and comply with for every country you would like your app to operate in.

Search and filters

This is a basic function, however an important one for customer experience. Usually users already have their choice criteria: investment instruments, amount of money, timeframe etc. So, search and filters become handy for choosing the investment options that fit the requirements.

Filters in an investment app

Filters in the Broex crypto wallet, designed by Purrweb

Virtual advisor

Even if your solution isn’t based on automatic investment strategies, your customers will appreciate a built-in virtual advisor. Implement a chatbot powered by AI to provide a better user experience for your customers. A virtual advisor can help with a variety of problems. For example, assess the user’s risk tolerance and investment goals and offer low-cost investment options or possible strategies if needed.

Virtual advise on strategies in an investment app

Virtual advisor in the Fintarget investment app, designed by Purrweb

Push notifications

In the world of trading, real time information is golden. Users will appreciate built-in notifications about favorite instruments and hot market news. 

Sometimes, your future users will want to buy stocks for exact prices and push notifications are a great way to support them. Also you can notify your users whether any serious events happen in the market like correction of interest rate.

alerts in an investment app

Users can set up alerts and get updates about changes in the stock price

Push notifications can support your users’ financial strategies by notifying them at the right time. Customers will appreciate this feature, especially in volatile markets like crypto.

Binance Push-notification

For example, Binance sends push-notifications to inform users about the prices of chosen cryptocurrencies

Investment calculator

Investment involve a lot of taxes, regulations and fees. You can help the users to figure the details out: develop a calculator in your app. You can add more value by providing extra functionality like profit forecast and investment planning.

Customer support

A technical support can be robotic (with chat bot or AI integrated), human or hybrid. That will depend on the resources you have.

Best examples of investment apps

Now, we would like to give you some examples of investment applications. We picked 5 most remarkable apps and highlighted their technicalities for you to dive into the market and find inspiration for your future app.

Robinhood

It is one of the most famous investment applications. Robinhood was the first company to provide trading without fees. They combine the trade orders from users and send them for execution to third parties. This model has removed the need to charge a fee per trade. The company has also created Robinhood Gold, which lets users trade on margin, make larger deposits and access professional reports from Morningstar.  Many of today’s investment platforms were inspired by Robinhood’s model.

screens of Robinhood app

Simple and user-friendly interface is also one of the app’s advantages

Binance

Binance is the first cryptocurrency and NFT investment platform. Their competitive advantage is a strong security system with advanced encryption and expanded users’ control system. The app also supports Secure Asset Fund for Users: it stores 10% of all trading fees in a secure asset fund to protect a share of user funds.

screen of Binance app

Binance supports all popular cryptocurrencies and provides secure trading with strict security protocols

Acorns

Acorns’s philosophy is to create a habit of regular investments: every time a user purchases something, the app sends the change to the investment account. Acorns offers several investment strategies based on investor’s portfolio, age and risk tolerance.

Acorns’s screen

A user can manually set up an amount of roundup to be invested from every purchase they made

Wealthfront

Wealthfront is a robo-assist investment app with a huge commission-free amount — $5000. It also provides a variety of investment strategies created by experts for automated trading. The most significant feature is tax optimisation service available from online advisors. The app is created for small-amount investors and does not provide discounts for large-balance accounts.

Wealthfront screen

The app provides a strategy based on the time a user would like to retire

eToro

eToro is a social network for investors with a trading mechanism. It supports crypto, shares, ETF and lots of other instruments. The main advantage of the app is the option to ask questions to investors’ communities in order to discuss the strategy or news. An investor can also just copy the strategy from a person they follow. That is a real killer-feature and innovative function.

eToro screen

The app combines an investment and social apps interface in a user-friendly manner

Monetization strategy

Of course, an investment app development is not a charity and you would like to make money off your efforts. As a market standard, you can choose one of four basic options on how to make money from the app development:

    • Advertising — built-in ads help to keep an app free for users. You can accept all types of ads in your app or filter offers based on your audience’s preferences.
    • Premium account — you can either remove ads from the app or add extra features from the list we discussed earlier as paid options.
    • Transaction fee — you can charge a certain amount of money or a share of the volume for every transaction made.
    • Hybrid monetization model — a combination of ads and in-app purchases. For example, you can choose to show ads in your app and provide some paid functions like personal investing consultation or additional instruments to invest in.
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8 steps to develop an investment app

There are two options for how to create an investment app. You can either hire developers or outsource the software development to the agency. If you hire a team, you will have to control their work by yourself: set the tasks, manage the budget and timeframe, assess the quality of their work. On the other hand, you can outsource the developing of an investment app and save your time and money to build an investment platform.

You will need to take just 8 steps to create an investment app.

Investment app development in 8 steps

Step 1: Set goals and conduct market research

Try to use your competitors’ apps before developing an investment service yourself. Learn their business model and features. Pay special attention to mistakes and inconveniences which you should avoid in your investment app.

Step 2: Choose a monetization strategy

While choosing a monetization strategy for your investment platform, keep in mind that it should align with your business model, target audience, and the value your app provides. You can make money off of: in-app advertising, premium subscriptions, transaction fees, or a combination of  several of these methods. Just try to balance the level of revenue and customers’ comfort, so your potential users won’t end up disappointed with an avalanche of advertising and fees within the app.

Step 3: Find an app development agency

In order to choose a company to create an investment app, we advise to start your search from the portfolio: an agency should already have built several mobile apps for investors both in iOS and Android. Pay attention to clients’ references. The reviews will help you to manage your expectations from app development services.

See also  How to Build an MVP App: The Definitive Guide 2024

Step 4: Make a list of features

First, you need to decide whether you create an MVP or an app with extended functionality. MVP (minimum viable product) is a working version of your app with basic features. Creation of MVP helps you to test the app before the launch and avoid useless spendings. But if you’ve already tested the idea, you can dive right into creating an advanced investment app.

An MVP version usually includes user registration and authentication, basic trading capabilities, portfolio tracking, and robust security components. When creating an investment app with advanced features, you can add educational resources, a virtual advisor, social elements, and in-depth analytics for users to make informed investment decisions.

It’s okay if you don’t have a clear idea of the features your app should include. Just ask your agency for help and brainstorm together.

Step 5: Develop UI/UX design

At this stage, your vision starts coming to life. Professional designers work on your app’s visual and interactive elements, so it can be more attractive for your target audience. While creating an investment app, make sure that it isn’t only nice to look at but also highly functional and user-centric:

    • Construct an intuitive navigation structure, featuring clear menus and icons, for users to easily access different sections within the app. 
    • Ensure that your app adapts to different  screen sizes and devices. 
    • Use fonts that are easy to read and maintain a consistent typography throughout the app. 
    • Select a color scheme that is suitable for the niche and aligns with your brand.
    • Check out financial app design samples to grasp some of the common features that users will expect your app to have.

Step 6: Develop an MVP

Now it’s time to sit back  and trust the process. Your app development team will help you with important details like tech stack, APIs and integrations you need.

screens of an investment app

MVP of the app must support the basic features : profile, transaction management, and market analytics

Professional developers know that an MVP should comply with certain safety and compliance rules. First of all, ensure safety of user account data. The app should securely manage personal data in accordance with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for Europe and other personal data regulations for other countries your investing app will operate in. And, of course, the app should provide secure connection with bank accounts in order to replenish an investing account or withdraw money from it.

Secondly, the app should comply with financial industry regulations. For example, in the USA the app should satisfy the requirements of SEC (Security and Exchange Commission), FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation). For other countries you should consult with a lawyer with financial specialization.

Step 7: Release your app

This is a stage, when all the preparations are made and your app is ready for customers. Don’t forget to provide some marketing materials (screenshots, video, etc.)  to promote the app. The agency will control the technical side of the launch and you should pay attention to the first users’ feedback. 

Step 8: Maintain your app and keep it secure

This is a continuous stage of app improvement. You should update the app functionality and design according to feedback from the users. It’s especially important to update the app and keep it secure when it comes to financial apps. Regularly conduct security audits and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities in your app and keep users’ data protected.

Create a thorough incident response strategy on how to handle security breaches. This strategy should include communication tactics, containment measures, and steps for recovery.

Keep your investment app secure

These measures will help you keep your investment app secure

How much does it cost to build an investment app?

Estimating the budget for an investment app development is almost impossible without knowing the specifics. Luckily, utilizing our vast development experience, we can give you possible estimates for the MVP development with Purrweb for every of five key parts.

Project Estimation

We will discuss the idea and estimate the time and costs for software development. This stage is free of charge.

UI/UX design

Design includes both a visual representation and key functions of a future app. In this stage, we plan all the functions from account creation to money withdrawal. 

106 hours 

💰 $6 710

Development

This is the most time-consuming stage. The team develops the architecture, the interface on both client and server sides.

916 hours

💰 $ 44 955

QA (Quality Assurance)

Testing is important. At the time of release, there must be no bugs in the app. QA engineers will take care of that. 

495 000 hours

💰 $ 9 900

Project management 

Project management is an important part of the app creation. A professional manager assigns tasks, control deadlines and costs of development. 

💰 $4 800

The total investment app development costs are $66 365

Here is the detailed breakdown in terms of features

Feature Time for development, hours Cost of development, $
Profile 100 hours $4 500
Learning module with demo account 120 hours $5 400
Transaction management 100 hours $4 500
Account deposit 80 hours $3 600
Support 60 hours $2 700
Analytics 100 hours $4 500
KYC and AML integration 80 hours $3 600
Notifications 24 hours $1 080
Investment calculator 100 hours $4 500

You can take a first step to your future by consulting with Purrweb experts. Fill in the form to contact us and have a free consultation. We will discuss your idea and timeframe for the app development. Moreover, we will share our expertise in fintech development.

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FAQ s

  • What is an investment app?

    It is an app for investments. There are four main types of them: DIY apps, robo-assist, hybrid, human advised.

  • How long does it take to create an investment app?

    Approximately, mobile app development takes about 4 months. The precise time will depend on features, number of developers and their experience in financial apps.

  • How much are investment app development cost?

    You will need about $60 000- $66 000 to create an investment app. As with the timeframe, the exact amount will depend on the features and experience of the team.