5 Key Steps to Building a Secure Mobile Banking App

Secure Mobile Banking App

You might think that designing mobile banking apps is a straightforward process — but there are more considerations to take into account than you might think. This blog post presents the five key steps for building a secure mobile banking app.

In today’s digital era, many banks are adapting to mobile banking to improve their service to clients. Mobile banking apps can improve staff retention, brand affinity and client satisfaction. However, building a secure mobile app that promotes trust and loyalty involves more than merely downloading a vendor’s pre-built template from the app store.

This blog post presents the five key steps for building a secure mobile banking app.

They are:

1)Start with Research (Ensure all bases are covered);

2)Keep in line with compliance, best practices, and regulations;

3)Make sure you have security built into every component;

4)Design an appealing UX/UI from the ground up;

5)Build, test and regularly update your application.

Let’s jump right in and take a closer look at each of the five key steps listed above:…

Comprehensive research (ensure all bases are covered)

Here is an analogy: 

If you didn’t do your homework before building a house, you wouldn’t know how to construct it so that it is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Similarly, start with research if you want to build a secure mobile banking app. 

For this blog post, research would entail five core activities:

1) Market Research

2) Audience insights

3) Determine your goals and KPIs

4)Competition research

5)Define Features

Let’s explain each activity in more detail.

Market Research: The goal here is to uncover the latest trends and needs in your target market and identify possible use cases for mobile banking. You don’t want to build a product that no one will want to use, or that doesn’t provide anything new or innovative.

For example, some trends that you might want to consider researching are: 

  • Biometric authentication
  • Voice payments
  • AI-assisted Chatbots 
  • Mobile payments

Audience Insights: Understanding your customers is crucial to having a successful mobile app. Assess your potential audience and what they will need from a mobile banking app. 

For example, you might want to consider questions such as: 

  • What is their preferred mobile OS? 
  • What are their preferences when it comes to the interface of a banking app? 
  • Do they prefer using voice commands for banking? 
  • What are their pain points when it comes to traditional banking? 

Determine your Goals and KPIs: You have to decide what your goals and KPIs will be for the app. 

Considering the above, you will need to determine KPIs that allow you to measure success. 

For example, you might want to consider analysing the following metrics: 

  • Number of logins per day
  • Number of refunded transactions due to forgotten passwords
  • Average transaction value per user
  • Total number of downloads

Competition research: Trying to invent the wheel might be a fool’s errand, so make sure you investigate what competitors are already doing. 

It will allow you to focus your efforts on adding value and differentiating your product. 

For example, you might want to consider analysing the following: 

  • What security measures do they already have in place? 
  • Which competitors do you want to emulate? 
  • Does their platform allow for expansion and growth into other markets?

Define Features: If you built a plane without defining any features, it would likely crash and burn. In the same way, if you don’t define your features, you risk creating a banking app that wastes resources and fails to meet customer needs.

Your list of features should include both short-term goals and long-term goals for app expansion. 

For example, some features you might want to include are: 

Core Banking features – allows customers to access account information, transfer funds and pay bills.

Digital wallet features – allows customers to store their information and use it to make purchases online. 

More advanced features – enables customers to set up auto-pay and use mobile remote deposit capture, voice and biometric authentication, and other features that enhance security and convenience.

The key to note here is that the features you list should also consider your market research and audience insights. 

In addition, these features need to be compatible with your goals and KPIs.

The list of features is endless. The above only serves as an example for you to build upon.

Once you have all your features listed, prioritisation is the next step. You want to make sure that you focus on the right features that will provide value to your users. 

For example, you might want to consider prioritising security measures, digital wallets, and core banking features. 

At the end of the research phase, you should know: 

  • Your target market and their needs in terms of mobile banking. 
  • Your KPIs and what data you will measure to ensure the success of your app. 
  • What competitors are already doing in terms of mobile banking, and what measures will you implement to improve their services.

Of course, this is a simplified version of what research entails and would ideally involve several different methods. For example: 

  • Surveys 
  • Focus groups 
  • Customer interviews 
  • Staff observational studies in the field.

Once you have carried out your research, you will be ready to jump straight into the design phase of your mobile app.

Once you have completed your research, it is time to design and develop a secure mobile banking app. But first…

Keep inline Compliance, Industry Best Practises and Regulations

With its ever-evolving nature, technology can be a double-edged sword. The same technology that provides you with the opportunity to provide your customers with innovative services also places a huge burden of responsibility and obligations on you to provide a secured product.

Compliance is ever so crucial in the financial service industry. You must adhere to industry best practices and regulations such as GDPR, PSD2, GLBA, and ISO 27001.

For example, suppose your mobile app follows the ISO 27001 standard (ISO is an international standard used for best practice in systems and software engineering). In that case, your app will have to implement mobile banking security measures such as: 

  • Data Protection using Verified Boot  
  • 2-factor authentication 
  • Secure data storage 
  • Mobile malware detection systems 
  • Encryption of sensitive data.

In Australia, for example, an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) is required before any Fintech businesses can operate any of their services/product.

You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the law and your customers, so the importance of complying with industry best practices and regulations cannot be stressed enough.

Make sure you have security built into every component

Security is a major concern for all your users, even if they use your app to check their account balance.

Therefore security should be the foundation of your mobile app rather than an afterthought. You want to ensure your app inspires confidence in your users, leading to better customer retention and higher satisfaction ratings.

You cannot afford to have the user experience compromised by vulnerabilities in your app. Defective apps are likely to be abandoned by users, which will directly impact your bottom line.

To ensure the smooth running of your app, security needs to be baked into every component. It’s not just about making your mobile app secure but also ensuring that the infrastructure that makes mobile banking possible is also secure.

Some security features to implement in this case would be: 

  • Biometric login and authentication 
  • Monitoring and intrusion detection 
  • Ensuring that data is backed up regularly.
  • Data encryption 
  • Alerts and warnings 
  • Regular penetration testing.

Design an appealing UX/UI from the ground up

Whether designing a mobile app, website or other digital platforms, you should always think about your customer first. This may sound like common sense, but many companies fail to consider the user experience when designing their product, which can end up with disastrous results – uninstalls, scathing reviews, and loss of revenue.

If you don’t want to lose your customer, remember: 

  • Your product must be intuitive and easy to navigate. 
  • Your product must meet the customer’s requirements and be a valuable tool for them to use. 
  • Your product must be reliable, so your customers can trust it.

Your User Interface (UI) is often the first thing that people encounter when they use your product, so it’s extremely important that you pay attention to the appearance of your app.

Your UI should be enticing and intuitive, which means that it should be easy for your user to learn how to use it without much help. The point of having an app is to make life easier for your customer, so you must understand that your app is a tool, and its appearance should help to give it this functionality.

Designing the UI of your app is a job for your designers, but you can give input here and there on what you are looking for in the finished app.

UX (User Experience) is equally important. You should prioritise your customers’ needs to make them feel at ease when using the app, which might include:

  • Having a non-disruptive login process 
  • Providing the customer with relevant services based on their transaction history 
  • Providing the customer with appealing offers and promotions.

When designing an app, consider the insights you’ve gathered in the first step. Some design trends for bank apps include:  

Key activities during the banking app design phase:

Wireframing: Wireframing is a sketch of how your app will look and work. It is a blueprint that will allow you to see how each element is connected and how your app functions as a whole. 

Feedback collection: Throughout the design phase, it is best to gather feedback from clients and possibly the people who will be using your app. This way, you can ensure that your finished app meets their needs and expectations. 

Creating the first concepts: You might create several concepts and then choose the best idea. Typically, screens are created for home, navigation, transaction, and menu screens. However, this may vary depending on the requirements you have.

Prototyping: Once you’ve decided on your main concept, you will create a prototype that your team can test the app with real users. This is important because it allows for feedback and suggestions to be included in the app’s final stages.

Testing: When you have created a prototype, you will test it with real users. The way you test your app will depend on what you are creating. If it’s a mobile banking app, you will want to speak with different demographics and see how they interact with the app.

As a general rule of thumb, you should always be testing your app to ensure that it looks and functions the way it should.

You should have a complete UX wireframe, possibly different designs for the iOS and Android versions, and an interactive prototype at the end of this phase. 

Once the design process is over, you should have a very articulate brief ready to be handed to developers.

Build, test and regularly update your application

In the last step, the developer will turn the output of the design process into a functional app with the required functionality. This can be done using programming languages and frameworks.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Cross-platform or native: At this stage, you will be able to choose between cross-platform development (such as Cordova) or native development. In cross-platform development, you design and test once and then use the same code to create apps for different platforms. Native development allows you to take advantage of a particular platform’s (iOS or Android) unique features.

Programming languages: A number of programming languages can be used to develop your app. These include Swift for iOS apps and Kotlin/Java for Android apps. 

App development team or individual hires: For a project as important as a banking app. This ensures that there are people around who know what they are doing and can make sure that the development process goes smoothly. A lot goes on in the development process, and tons of tools/technologies are required. This is why it’s best to hire a team of experienced and qualified people. 

So, what goes on during the development of a mobile banking app? 

Coding: The developer will write code using coding languages relevant to your chosen platform. It is the part where the design work you did comes into play. 

Development sprints:  development sprint uses the Agile method to break development into stages, with each focusing on specific aspects of the app functionality. At the end of each sprint, a working version (known as a “build”) is released.

QA and App Testing: The “Build” is then tested with the help of QA (Quality Assurance) testers. QA is done with respect to the “test plan” defined in the design document. 

User Acceptance Testing: The client signs off the build when satisfied.

One of the benefits of development teams using agile methodologies is that they can change and amend the developed code as and when required. Plus, it provides transparency for the client. 

Deployment: Finally, after successfully testing the build and refinement, the app goes through a release process with your development team. After all of the official release processes have been completed, your app is finally published in the app store or the client’s website.

Well, that’s pretty much it.

A note on upgrades and customer support: 

Upgrades: Building a successful app is not a one-time job. Most apps require regular updates to keep up with the changing environment and provide the best experience possible.

For example, your app will likely need to be updated in response to new regulations or the development of new CPU architectures.

Customer support: Imagine if your app is not performing well or there are glitches in the background. You will need to fix these issues. It’s best to have a good system in place for customer support and an upgrade process that’s both efficient and secure.

In short, it’s best to be prepared.


There you have it: those are the five key steps to building a secure banking app. Creating a mobile banking app is no easy task, but your risk of failure will be greatly reduced if you follow these steps.