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Building an Investment Platform: Ultimate Guide
The times when investment was only for institutional funds and large brokerage firms are long gone. Today, even a person with as little as $50 can open an investment account and start buying and selling stocks, shares, bonds, and ETFs without a problem.
This large-scale influx of retail investors to the global stock market happened within less than a decade due to the quick development of FinTech solutions and the growing accessibility of trading&investment resources. As a result of the FinTech revolution, trading apps have become user-friendly, intuitive, and largely accessible to all population groups.
Some of them are linked to the clients’ banking apps; others are standalone apps with extensive asset choice and support for crypto trading. Thus, users are spoiled for choice and don’t need to make any extra steps to open a brokerage account and start trading various assets.
These market trends have made the online investment platform market one of the fastest-growing FinTech sectors. Let’s look at a couple of figures to embrace the scale of change:
- The 2021 market size was $1.88 billion, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.9% until 2030.
- The expected market cap for online investment platforms is $4.4 billion by 2028.
- The total number of transactions in the online investment market is expected to exceed $2.4 trillion in 2023.
- The most promising niches in the online investment market are robo-advisors and portfolio management.
- The largest revenue share belongs to online investment businesses in North America; the Asia Pacific market is the second-largest segment in this sphere.
As you can see, online investment is gaining popularity pretty quickly, with the ease of use and smart tools for portfolio management encouraging user adoption. This evidence suggests it’s time to consider online investment app development as the next big thing in the software market.
So, if you’ve been considering software for investing in your next product offering, it’s high time to deploy it and reap a fair share of the growing market. Here we’ll tell you how to create an investment platform like this, what features to consider, and what budget to allocate to this project.
Investment Trading App Types
Once you decide to create an investment app, it’s vital to choose the app type with your business goals, end-user needs, and expected functionality in mind. There are three major types of trading apps on the market right now.
This type of investment software is immensely popular among users because it doesn’t require opening a new brokerage account and going through much paperwork. The investment functionality is either added to the digital banking interface or provided as a separate app but with the existing bank user’s login and verification data.
Thus, users don’t need to make extra moves, prepare documents, and sign endless forms; they may only provide a digital signature to verify their desire to open a brokerage account. Some banks even allow buying and selling securities within a single banking account, which simplifies the process altogether.
The most well-known and functional banking apps known to date are:
- Wells Fargo
Clients of Wells Fargo can enjoy a wide variety of mobile app features, such as depositing checks, sending and receiving money, adding cards to the digital wallet, setting card priorities, and getting financial advice.
The app also provides wealth and investment management functionality, such as zero commissions for stock and ETF trades, automated investing, team-based wealth management, and personalized investment planning and advice.
The bank also provides ready-made investment strategies for various client categories, such as retirement strategies, hi-tech investments, etc.
- Bank of America
This bank provides users with a 360-degree view of their transactions and accounts and allows them to pay bills, transfer money, and receive payments. It offers many proprietary tools to simplify and protect user transactions, such as Zelle® for money exchange and the Spending and Budgeting tool for smart budgeting.
Its Merrill Edge app allows investment in various securities, trading operations, and fund transfers between this app and the BoF banking accounts.
Chime’s all-in-one mobile banking app, available on Android and iOS, allows connecting the users’ bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts in a single place.
The best thing about Chime is that it’s free of charge; users can also get a debit card and a bank account for free.
Chime partners with Robinhood to allow easy investments for users (stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, etc.) directly from the Chime account without commissions.
- Capital One
Besides being an innovation-focused bank with a user-friendly and option-rich mobile app, Capital One also has a rob-advisor service for clients interested in automated investing activities. It’s called Capital One Advisors Managed Portfolios and works on creating investment portfolios reflecting a concrete user’s investment goals, degree of risk tolerance, and budget.
The key purpose of standalone investment apps is to ease the process of investing for users. They are provided by brokers connected to well-known stock exchanges and provide a rich spectrum of trading functionality for investors and traders.
Some famous examples of investment apps are:
This app is a popular robo-advisor with a large selection of tradable assets and an annual management fee of 0.25-0.4% for the user’s assets.
It helps users professionally manage their portfolios at low risk and for a low fee. The service has no entry threshold, but premium services are available for clients with $100,000+ deposits.
The app made a name for itself as a secure and functional savings app. There are no minimum balance requirements, and the fees are $3-$5 per month, depending on the user category.
Users can link their credit and debit cards to the app and set up the amount they will charge for investment in ETF portfolios. This way, the users can grow their investment portfolios without extra effort and set up investment accounts for children.
This app is ideal for users seeking safe and manageable real estate investment opportunities. The advisory fee is 0.15%, while annual asset management will cost 0.85%.
Users can participate in real estate investments with any sum of money they have at hand, reaping decent annual returns from real estate appreciation.
Stock Exchange & Traded Funds Apps
This app category is the most versatile, as it covers the greatest variety of trading and investment options and doesn’t limit users to conservative investment features.
Leverage trading, margins, financial derivatives, and other instruments are available in such apps to allow users to conduct different trading operations and grow their deposits. However, using these apps comes with a risk for inexperienced investors.
Examples of such apps include:
This app is considered the best option for active traders, as it allows trading with zero commissions. There is no minimum balance requirement, and zero fees are available for all trades with stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies.
The app is user-friendly and contains a news feed to keep traders informed about the latest updates that can inform their trading decisions.
- Charles Schwab
Another user-friendly and zero-fee app, Charles Schwab, is also highly beneficial for novice traders because of its huge database of educational resources and stock market research. It has no entry threshold and offers commission-free stock and ETF transactions.
The Vanguard trading app is one of the best-looking, intuitive apps on the market. It allows seamless control of the user’s account balances, performance, and assets. Users can conduct trades with a couple of clicks and review hand-picked investment options in the form of Vanguard ETFs.
Investment Platform’s Essential Features
Your feature options are quite rich when it comes to enhancing your online investment platform – it all comes down to your business needs and financial resources. Yet, some of them constitute a mandatory minimum without which an app won’t work.
So, how to create an investing app with a minimal set of features to ensure a seamless user experience and enable the core expected functions?
The feature list that you should consider is:
- New account setup/registration. It’s impossible to use an online resource without registration and login functionality. So, your first step is to equip the platform with user-friendly sign-up and sign-in features.
- User profile and dashboard. Users should be able to access their account’s status and overview all details about their balance, assets, and history of activities on the platform.
- Bank account/card linking. Since users are expected to trade securities, you should allow them to deposit and withdraw money somehow, which is possible only by linking payment requisites (e.g., a bank account or a debit/credit card).
- Deposits and withdrawals. As stated above, deposits and withdrawals are essential aspects of money movement to enable the financing of trading/investment activities on the platform.
- Stock trading panel. Users need to access complete data about the asset they want to sell or buy: a price chart, key stats and news about it, price history, etc.
Other features may cover advanced analytics, automated solutions, financial advisory, portfolio management, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to investment apps’ functions and perks for users.
Steps of Investment Platform Development
It’s time to cover the actual process of investment platform development to answer the question, “how to create an investment app from scratch?” As a rule, the algorithm of work on this software type is standard and includes the following phases:
#1 Market Analysis
It’s short-sighted to start the app’s development without understanding your target users, market, and the existing range of competitor products. A market analysis should be the first point in any development project. The insights you’ll derive from the analytical report should cover:
- Target audience
- End-user pain points and needs
- Features you can add to solve the customer’s problems
- Monetization methods
- Existing products and their business models
This information will inform your feature selection and overall approach to development, taking all guesswork out of the process.
#2 Regulatory compliance
Investment apps should comply with the regulatory landscape of your company’s and users’ jurisdiction. The regulations are pretty strict as you deal with user money and store sensitive banking and personal data. Relevant laws include:
- GDPR compliance for financial services in the EU.
- FTC rules and CFPB laws in the USA.
- FCA licensing in the UK.
#3 Team recruitment
Now that you know what app you need and what laws you should obey, it’s time to find a team to bring your project to life. Hiring an in-house team may be too costly for a FinTech startup, so we recommend an outsourcing company as a more flexible and affordable option.
Rates will differ according to the team’s location; here is a breakdown by geography.
|Specialist\Region||North America||South America||Eastern Europe||Western Europe||Asia||Australia|
#4 Feature and roadmap negotiation
Now that you have a team, it’s time to take more practical steps. You should negotiate the features you want to see in the app and discuss the deadlines and scope of work that should be done on your project.
Otherwise, your hired provider will not be able to give you a precise cost and time estimate for the investment platform
#5 UX/UI design
Design makes or breaks modern apps, and you shouldn’t underscore the value of design as well. Thus, it’s essential to work closely with designers to develop a sleek, functional design that your users will easily navigate.
#6 Technology negotiation
The next step requires closer project scoping with tech stack selection. You should decide whether you will develop native iOS and Android apps or will go with a cross-platform solution. You also need to choose the back-end development tools and design elements, bringing the whole app together.
#7 App development
This stage is the most important, as everything you’ve planned with the dev team before takes shape now. Back-end and front-end developers work on your platform’s features and test their functionality. At the end of the development stage, all parts are integrated into a single architecture.
#8 QA testing
Once the development stage is over, it’s time to test how it all works. Never ignore this step, as critical bugs and security loopholes can cost you money and reputation. So, we recommend conducting a security and code quality audit before the launch by subjecting your platform to manual and automated tests.
#9 Deployment and maintenance
Congrats, your app is up and running! But that’s not the end of its development journey; it requires 24/7 maintenance and regular feature updates. You can do the work on your own or entrust the outsourcing team with these routine activities for a monthly fee.
Cost Breakdown for Building an Investment Platform from Scratch
The financial aspect of building an investment app is very important for most businesses, as software development should be manageable and should not break the bank with hidden fees and unexpected expenditures. So, what should one count for when starting such a project?
Figures will definitely vary broadly depending on the location of your development team and the mode of development you choose (in-house, outsourcing company, or freelancers).
Hiring an in-house team is the most expensive variant, as you will need to finance their hardware and software, pay taxes, provide a social package to coders, etc.
Working with freelancers is the cheapest method, but you should assign a project manager to oversee the progress and unify remote workers’ efforts into a productive whole.
The golden middle is working with an outsourcing company, as you will pay less than for in-house development but will get a well-managed, ready-made team with a PM at your disposal.
Let’s combine the average hourly rates of engineers and the features we discussed in the previous section to arrive at a more or less realistic estimate for this project.
|Feature||Number of Hours||Price|
|Complete registration and verification||75-80||$3,750-$4,000|
|Linking of bank accounts||200||$10,000|
|Stock trading functionality||350-380||$17,500-$19,000|
|UX/UI design (main page, home screen of user panel)||200||$10,000|
One important thing to note about this cost breakdown is that the estimates were done for one platform only. If you want your platform to operate on two platforms – iOS and Android – you should multiply this figure by two.
Besides, this table covers only development. Your project will also include business analysis, project management, testing, and DevOps. Thus, the average price estimate for an investment platform is usually around $150,000.
The cost breakdown we’ve made is based on the average hourly rate of $50 for a coder in Eastern Europe. Depending on the team’s location, you will get different figures; keep in mind that the highest developer rates are in Australia and the USA.
If you’d like to get more precise estimates and clarity about the cost of your investment platform project, contact RNDpoint experts for a detailed cost breakdown.
Ways to Monetize Your Investment Platform
Now that your investment platform is up and running, you need to consider its monetization. You’ve invested a heap of money into it, so how will you achieve the ROI targets? This can be done in the three most popular and sure ways.
Commercials are a common element of any website’s layout, and most users are fine with them (if you don’t abuse the valuable content/ad ratio on your resource). The easiest way to earn money on your new investment app is to sell the advertising space to related projects.
Double-check the advertisers’ reputation and post only relevant ads on your pages, as poor-quality or scam projects may undermine your platform’s status.
Premium user tiers and subscriptions
Another popular option is to offer users several access options and privileges. By default, account registration and use should be free, as people come to your platform to invest money.
However, besides the standard package of features and functions available for everyone, you can introduce several premium tiers with special deals, early access to IPOs or seed rounds, and lower transaction commissions.
This way, it’s up to the user to decide whether they are okay with the free standard access or want to get more from your platform for a modest extra fee.
Commissions for transactions are a self-obvious revenue stream for most investment-related projects. However, the highly competitive market dictates new rules of the game today, and many platforms (like, for instance, Robinhood) attract users with zero transaction fees.
They probably rely on other sources of revenue and plan to drive more users to their resource with minimal commissions, which is also an approach worth considering. However, zero fees are still not mainstream, and your competitive advantage lies in reasonable fee percentages and tiers that allow users to minimize fees depending on their status levels on the platform.
Why Work with RNDpoint on Your Investment Software
RNDpoint is a FinTech software provider with a broad range of services and end-to-end financial and investment software development coverage.
- Fintech operations since 2014, resulting in 120+ successfully completed projects open for review.
- Full-service coverage, including DevOps-as-a-Service support, end-to-end security auditing, and consulting services for business performance optimization.
- Quick turnaround with fast and easy integrations using proprietary low-code software ProcessMIX. Lower development costs compared to native development solutions.
Find out more about us and our projects here to make an informed hiring decision.
Our review shows that the online investment market is on the rise, with more retail investors ready to explore new wealth growth and management options. It’s an ideal moment for building an investment platform and entering the market sector with a functional, safe, and feature-rich software product.
Software design doesn’t stand still, so only tech-savvy and innovation-focused businesses can survive in it. Work with RNDpoint on your next project, and you’re sure to beat the competitors with a technically superior investment app.
What are the types of investment platforms?
There are three main types of investment platforms available for users today: banking apps, investment apps, and stock exchange&traded funds apps. Each comes with particular functionality meant for simple and safe access to securities trading; some are linked to the users’ existing bank accounts, and others require opening a separate brokerage account and depositing money in it.
How much does it cost to create an investment platform?
The price of your investment platform will depend on many factors, such as hourly rates, the underlying technology, and the number and complexity of features you want to develop in it.
On average, development work on an online investing app takes 2,000+ hours of development. So, you may calculate the price by multiplying the work hours by your developers’ hourly rate.
However, given the full range of costs for business analysis, integration, and testing, be ready to spend around $150,000 on such a project.
What are the stages of creating an investment app?
Though your specific project may require some alterations, the standard algorithm of investment app development includes preliminary market research, regulatory framework considerations, development team recruitment, feature listing, and UI/UX design as starting stages.
Once you clarify the optimal technology mix with your team and confirm the design, the actual development work starts; the resulting app is then tested and deployed for users to try it out.
How do investment apps make money?
Introducing transaction fees is the most popular way to earn money with your investment app or platform. You may have a decent revenue stream from commissions as your user base grows and more people join the platform.
Another option is to create premium subscription plans on top of the free accounts by giving premium users added features, priority statuses, and various perks. Advertising may also be a lucrative source of revenue, as many commercial entities are ready to pay for banners with their ads on your website once it gets popular.