Super apps like WeChat, Paytm, and Grab have become the default mobile applications in China and Southeast Asia. The super app concept is gaining traction worldwide, most recently catching on in Latin America. Still, it is only now starting to make a breakthrough in European and U.S. markets.
Why have fintech super apps failed to catch on in the United States and European markets? Some experts believe that fintech super apps have been unable to catch on in Europe and the U.S. because of the many challenges businesses and developers face when building a fintech super app.
What is a Fintech Super App?
A fintech super app is a mobile application that offers many financial technology services in one platform. These apps allow the user to have digital access to a financial institution, manage their banking online, explore financial services, and make financial transactions from a single platform.
The super app will often be a combination of mini programs or multiple apps combined APIs and integrations for one super app ecosystem. The idea is to have a stand-alone app that consolidates the various services you'd otherwise be switching to and from.
Although the idea of having a single app for digital banking, trading, digital payments, and even food delivery in one place sounds convenient, there are many challenges to overcome in order to have a successful super app.
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Design & Technical Challenges
All applications face design and technical challenges from the initial brainstorming stages to the product’s launch. Fintech supers apps are no different however, the user base of these apps is much broader.
Unlike an app for a niche interest or hobby, fintech super apps must be accessible and user-friendly for everyone.
Developers have to properly plan the design and roadmap of the technical infrastructure to support the various financial services integrated into the app.
UI/UX Design Considerations
Only some people using a fintech app will have the financial know-how of a Morgan Stanley investment banker. The app must be accessible to finance gurus, the average consumer, and people with different abilities.
During first-time user onboarding, adding tutorials and how-to pop-ups can help new users better understand the app. Designers must also consider a user's physical abilities when creating the app, keeping users with vision impairment or less skill in mind.
Fintech super apps also ask users to provide extremely sensitive data to the platform. The app first needs to build trust with its users before collecting this private information. The tutorials and help sections will give users more confidence in using the application.
And if that sounds like a lot… it is! It can be a daunting task for a developer to be able to check all the boxes for accessibility and still be convenient for a wide range of users.
It takes extra planning, but for less tech-savvy users, designers can consider ways to improve their user experience with a simple user mode or allow for a user to customize their page view. This can help people access the features of the app that matter most to them.
Integrations & Tech Stack
Super apps can be built for one company, encompassing all their services. This tends to be the case with traditional banks, also called incumbent banks. They can also be a combination of smaller apps and micro platforms.
Neobanks, or challenger banks, are online-only banks that partner with or integrate other apps and services on their platforms to offer a broader range of features and compete with larger financial tech apps.
When integrating with other services and apps or even deciding which tech stack to use, you rely on a third party to be up to date and secure. This is a huge risk and can make creating a fintech super app challenging.
The developers of all the components, the integrated tools, programming languages, APIs, and other connected apps need to ensure all parties are reliable and taking the responsible steps and precautions to remain up to date.
Financial institutions must adhere to several regulations, laws, and licensing at the local, state, and federal level. Fintech's popularity is rising, and the industry is expanding rapidly. As it grows, regulation and compliance are needed to protect consumers and investors.
Regulations vary in different government jurisdictions and according to the financial services offered.
Suppose the super app is a standalone app with different features. In that case, it can be challenging to keep track of all the regulations for each service and in each region, it will be used in.
If it is many apps combined into one, each party needs to comply according to what they are providing.
The main regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom are:
Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA): Regulates and supervises banks, insurers, credit unions, investment firms, and other financial services.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): Regulates financial firms offering consumer financial services, operating by charging fees to members in the financial service industry.
Payment Systems Regulator (PSR): Promotes competition and innovation in payment systems, working for the best interests of consumers that use them.
The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA): Firms working together to improve the financial wellbeing of UK consumers
Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG): A private group that releases guidance on how to comply in the financial sector.
The main regulatory bodies in the European Union are:
European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA): A financial market watchdog focused on regulation, facilitating cooperation between EU nations, securities legislation, overseeing markets, and investor protection.
Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA): Prevents and impedes money laundering, sets standards, and supervises financial institutions.
European Central Bank (ECB): Establishes the policies for the EU, sets objectives and interest rates, and administers foreign exchange reserves.
European Banking Authority (EBA): Identifies weaknesses and ensures transparency in financial systems.
Because there is no universal standard, to operate in the UK and EU, developers have to check with all of the different regulatory bodies to make sure their mobile app complies. Operating in the US adds a completely new set of rules to abide by.
Having a legal team or compliance officer working alongside the app development team is important.
Trying to ask developers and designers, who are not legal specialists, to understand the complex requirements set forth by these regulatory bodies is unfair and likely to result in significant problems down the road. An expert must weigh in as the platform grows and becomes a viable product.
A legal professional keeping tabs on the complex laws through the product’s life cycle will protect your company, team, and consumers from mistakes and delinquent behavior.
Privacy & Security Challenges
Maintaining security and user privacy is another challenge for fintech super apps. A financial super app is a tempting target for hackers with malicious intent. Programming the app with methods to stop fraudulent activity seems easy on the surface.
Still, with the broad user audience, the app also needs to be able to differentiate between fraud and outlier user activity.
Data Security & Protection
Data collection and processing technology embeds into every mobile app, from banking to social media.
What are the risks of super apps? The risk of super apps is storing all of a customer’s sensitive information in one consolidated location. It is crucial to secure any consumer data that is collected. A data breach opens the doors to legal action and could destroy a company's reputation in the long run.
When building a fintech super app, developers should test, debug, and attempt to “penetrate” their system to ensure hackers cannot find a way in. Additional layers and features to protect their users include:
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Allowing users to choose if they'd like notifications about all actions in their account
Regular password changes after a prolonged period
Sharing Customer data between integrations
Suppose the super app combines mini platforms or independently developed micro apps. In that case, challenges may arise when sharing customer data. Ensure the legal and compliance team works with the development teams to ensure all data is utilized legally.
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The fintech sector is growing, and as the market becomes more saturated, finding investors and the capital to launch a new start-up is becoming more and more difficult. The team required to build a super app for the financial tech market requires many departments, and costs quickly add up.
In addition, the concept of a super app is to keep users all in one platform. Convincing users to come to your super app will require advertisements and winning over customers to get the initial mobile app download.
It will be complicated as super apps compete with BaaS (Banking as a Service) and mobile applications adopting embedded finance (placing financial products in a traditionally non-financial platform) to their existing apps.
Innovative thinking is required to identify gaps in the market. Aim to fill those needs to bring new customers in. Once the download has happened, you must make sure your fintech super app offers a service that is worth the user staying rather than exploring another app in what is becoming a saturated market.
Why are Fintech Super Apps Important?
Fintech super apps are essential because they allow people easy-to-use options for their digital payments, mobile banking, and investing. It will enable regular people to access knowledge and be more active in their financial endeavors. They give the more tech or financially savvy individuals access to everything they need all in one place.
Build the Next Fintech Super App
Fintech super apps are a laborious process to build. As we live in the age of open banking, cryptocurrency, and online trading, they make it easy to do everything one needs with their money on a standalone platform.
Are you ready to build a fintech super app for the UK or EU market? MVP Match connects companies with top-tier talent to set your fintech super app apart from the others. Hire an MVP expert or team of experts to build your app today!