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Banking App Development in 2023: Native vs Hybrid vs Cross-platform

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Are you looking to capture the growing demand for digital banking?

If yes, you might be already stuck with choosing an app development approach: native, hybrid, or cross-platform development frameworks. Given how upfront and personal mobile apps are to their users, it’s critical that you understand the benefits and drawbacks of the different routes before taking one.

While there are various criteria to look at, we want to emphasize the most important when developing a Fintech or mobile banking solution:

  • Security. Ensuring data protection by enabling security best practices is a must in a financial environment where users’ data is always under attack.

  • User experience. The key to your application’s success will be how intuitive and responsive it is to the customer’s needs.

  • Time to market. The pace of innovation and development in the financial services industry is exponential and competition is intense. If you want to get your app to market quickly, time to market should be a key consideration.

  • Cost. As a startup or a company looking to develop a branded mobile banking product, the cost of development will always be a key consideration.

Check out a quick summary:

Fintech App development: Flutter vs native vs hybrid

Further in this article, we will compare the three options in detail and help you choose the one best suited for your mobile banking app or e-wallet. Let’s dive in.

Native Financial App Development

A native app is developed within a mature ecosystem following the technical and user experience guidelines of the device’s particular operating system. The app will only be used on that specific operating system, using its native language.

Swift vs Objective C for iOS apps

When developing a native app within an iOS framework, developers have the option of using Objective C or Swift. Swift has several advantages over Objective C when choosing the coding you want to use to build your iOS fintech app. It was introduced by Apple and thus is a 100% native programming language. It is modern, with improved development approaches and it’s easy to learn and work with Swift. There’s less coding, more ready-made default options and it's twice as fast as Objective C. Thus, Swift apps perform particularly quickly and efficiently. More so, it is said by many in the tech industry that Swift will soon completely replace Objective-C.

Kotlin vs Java for Android apps

With regards to your choice of programming languages when you are developing an Android native fintech app, Kotlin is preferable to Java for a variety of reasons. First, Kotlin is fully compatible with Java. Then, Google has indicated that Kotlin has become a priority in developing Android apps. It’s also easier to work with Kotlin because developers can use shorter syntax, which significantly reduces the development time of the app.

Native apps have several important advantages over other alternatives. But these need to be weighed up against the disadvantages, which include the time it takes to get to market and the expense. Below we spell out the pros and cons of developing your mobile financial services solution as a native app:

Pros of native app development

  • Native apps offer better performance. They are much faster as they have been built within a framework that is native to the platform. They are generally more reliable and there is no question of cross-browser issues at all.

  • User experience. Native apps “feel right” because they have a look and feel consistent with most of the other native apps on the device.

  • They offer better security and data protection. Native app development allows developers more freedom to manage and solve security issues than hybrid or cross-platform development.

  • Users can easily access and utilize the built-in capabilities of their device e.g., their GPS, address book, camera, etc.

Cons of native app development

  • More time is needed to launch an app on two platforms because development can take anything from 6 months and more.

  • Specific expertise is required in developing native apps because more specific tools and languages need to be learned and there is a scarcity of developers in the market.

  • It’s expensive to build two different apps. However, the biggest misconception is that the company’s app needs to be available on both Android and iOS immediately. If the target audience shows an obvious preference for one platform over another, it may make sense to initially launch a native app on that platform.

  • There is very low code reuse across platforms, which translates into higher costs for the development of the app.

When is native banking app development the best option?

  • You are not in a rush to launch your solutions.

  • You have access to professionals, like Velmie or other development agencies, who have the development expertise required to build a future-proof native app.

  • Your budget is not tight and can be extended.

  • You are sure of the product-market fit and the envisaged offering has been thoroughly tested.

If you have answered “no” to any of these, then it would be wiser to start off with a cross-platform app development because this option offers most of the native development pros that are vital for fintech solutions while being more cost-effective, easier and quicker to launch.

Hybrid Financial App Development

Hybrid apps allow the developer to use a single code base to build apps that can operate across various platforms. So there is no need to develop a single app for a single mobile platform, you can build one that will operate on both iOS and Android platforms. They consist of both native and web solutions and have the same look and feel like a native app. The most popular development frameworks for hybrid app development include Ionic, Apache Cordova, Visual Studio.

Below are the pros and cons of opting for hybrid app development over native or cross-platform development.

Pros of hybrid app development

  • Faster time to market. Due to the single code base that can be used across multiple platforms, hybrid apps are easier to build and take less time to get to market. If you compare it with the time it takes to develop two native applications, building a hybrid app is about 20-50% faster.

  • Lower costs. Hybrid app developers are more affordable than native app developers. On average, developing and maintaining a hybrid app for iOS and Android costs 15%-50% less than developing two native apps.

  • Scalable and agile. New features are easier to develop and deploy on a hybrid app. You don’t have to update each app in the app store to wait for approvals. Bug fixes are platform-agnostic and these can be completed and put into production faster than on a native app.

  • Ease of maintenance. Opting for an intuitive hybrid solution can make it easier to update, repair and expand the functionalities, thereby lowering the costs.

Cons of hybrid app development

  • The performance and user experience (UX) of hybrid apps lags those of native apps. When building a hybrid app, it’s extremely challenging, even for the most experienced and skilled architects, to build an app that caters to different user types across different platforms.

  • Access to device hardware (GPS, camera, contact list, etc) may not be possible or may only be possible at a steep development cost via specific plugins that require unique expertise.

  • Hybrid apps have limited support from third party apps, for instance when integrating with payment processing providers. To make this possible, plugins or highly qualified developers are needed.

  • There are more security risks due to the restricted development opportunities to implement sophisticated security features.

When is hybrid banking app development the best option?

Hybrid banking app development does make sense if you are launching a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) on a limited budget and within a tight time frame. Hybrid apps are simple and if compared to other approaches easy to build. The fast development speed and cost-effective nature of developing hybrid apps makes this approach ideal for startups.

However, if the UX and app’s performance are vital and/or complicated functionality is required, you should consider opting for cross-platform or native app development instead. Also, given their weaker security capabilities, hybrid apps are not ideal for Fintech and banking solutions, where security is non-negotiable for users.

Cross-Platform Financial App Development

Cross-platform app developments use a native rendering engine and is regarded by many as the golden mean between native and hybrid app developments because it combines the benefits of both approaches and minimizes the downfalls. It is, however, often confused with hybrid apps when the only similarity is that the code can be reused for different platforms.

Why choose Flutter for a Fintech mobile app?

The most popular cross-platform frameworks are Flutter, React Native and Xamarin. However, Flutter, which is Google’s software development kit for building iOS and Android apps, is better suited to the development of banking and fintech apps for several reasons.

It enables easier development by reducing code development time. Its technology is proven: more than 100,000 apps have shipped using Flutter, among which are global industry leaders Alibaba, Uber and Airbnb. The technology is modern, having been introduced in 2017, and once there is a new functionality, Flutter has faster support services. Apps developed on Flutter are also almost indistinguishable from native apps, and thus provide the holy grail of app development - great user experience that is tailored for a specific operating system.

Pros of cross-platform app development

  • Cross-platform apps have a native app-like feel and great user experience. UX is tailored to the specific operating system, enabling smooth animations, applicable UI components, OS-specific interface elements and seamlessly works with gestures.

  • They are between 15% to 50% more cost-effective and quicker to develop than native apps and are similar in cost and the time it takes to get to market as hybrid apps.

  • Cross-platform frameworks like Flutter enable developers to build high-performance apps for both platforms while not compromising on application security. Numerous security features are available to maintain the safety of user data. These include secure storage, encryption API, third-party libraries for jailbreak detection, biometric authorisation, connection security and some other features.

  • Cross-platform apps are easy to maintain and its simple and fast to iterate features. The “hot reloading” feature enables developers to see changes made in code within seconds not minutes as you can do when using native technologies.

  • Easily integrated with cloud. Cross-platform apps are completely compatible with the cloud. The single source code is coordinated with various plug-ins and extensions to enhance the app’s scalability and functionality.

Cons of cross-platform app development

  • Cross platform apps have limited capabilities in terms of performance when compared to native app development. When comparing two similar apps containing the same functionalities, the native one will be faster. However, these differences in performance are usually small and almost indistinguishable for financial apps.

  • It might be hard to find high-level specialists that have the financial market understanding and the cross-platform development knowledge and experience needed to leverage the opportunities cross-platform apps offer in delivering a pure native experience.

Why is cross-platform app development the best option for Fintech startups?

By combining the best from native and hybrid mobile app development approaches, cross-platform apps, from our perspective, are an optimal solution for neobanks and fintech companies. These apps deliver a great user experience that is native to the device. They harness security best practices and provide scalability while remaining cost-effective and quick to launch.

Approach Suggested by Velmie

In an increasingly competitive market, it makes commercial sense to launch a mobile banking or fintech app as an MVP and then scale and extend it over time with the features that have been identified as the most valuable to your users and offer you the best return on your investment.

We consider Flutter (Cross-Platform) to be the best option for developing Fintech apps as it provides close to native capabilities while offering all the benefits of a cross-platform development approach. Thus, we built our white-label mobile banking app on Flutter. Contact us and we’ll advise you on the best suitable option for your solution.


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