Best Investment Apps for 2021 – How to Build an Investment App

Best Investment Apps for 2021 – How to Build an Investment App

8 min
Feb 18 2021
The micro-investment app market is growing yearly as more users become interested in trading. According to Statista, this sector is popular with different age groups of Americans. Well-known applications like Robinhood and Acorns had an increase in downloads by 120% in 2016-2020. Micro-investing enables users to get passive income while supporting their favorite companies. It’s high time to build your own trading app. The investment industry has plenty of opportunities to create user-friendly features and bring innovative solutions. Ready for stock tracking software development? In this article, you’ll find some examples of the most popular and exciting apps for micro-investing. We’ll explain how they work and highlight some good features you could add to your own product.

How Does Micro-Investment Work?

An online investment platform is a tax-efficient service for buying, holding, and selling funds. It allows investors to monitor their finances and the whole market situation in real-time to quickly make changes when needed. Why are micro-investing apps so popular in 2021? Their ascension started back in 2008 when the Global Financial Crisis made many people disillusioned with the stock market. More than a decade later, another global financial crisis started due to the COVID-19 situation, motivating people to search for alternative sources of income. The users of investment platforms and applications value them for convenience and quick access to all the necessary information. In the case of a mobile app, there is also the absence of any technical jargon. The whole process is automated, people simply browse stock portfolios to choose the ones with a better rate of return. Typically, investment apps use algorithms to show users the slock they may be interested in, based on their priorities. The user interface is intuitive and visualizes all data. Creating an account, you usually add your credit or debit card. When we talk about “investment apps”, it can refer to various types of mobile applications: 1. Micro-investing apps. They enable users to invest small amounts of money, like a spare change from online purchases, saved on a deposit.
Examples: Stash, Acorns.
2. Robo-advisors. These apps use advanced algorithms to monitor the global market and give users the best investment tips.
Examples: Betterment, Wealthfront.
3. Stock trading apps. They allow any user to invest in stocks, funds, and options.
Examples: Robinhood, E*TRADE.
4. Stock simulators. These apps and websites use gamification techniques to teach people trading and micro-investing.
Mobile apps for micro-investment lowered the barriers for newcomers without prior knowledge or skills. How do these apps make money? For example, Acorns offers its users monthly plans for $1, $2, and $3. This app also has a program called Found Money – it allows you to earn bonus money for shopping at certain places and then invest it somewhere else.

Best Examples of Investment Apps in 2021


Acorns is one of the first and most popular apps for micro-investing. It keeps leadership in 2021, being available for Android and iOS users.
Screens of the acorns investment app
How the Acorns app works
What users like about this app:
  • convenient interface;
  • automated savings from paying online;
  • lots of programs (Family, Lite, Personal);
  • the well-developed retirement investment system;
  • a four-year free use for students.


This online broker allows its users to avoid trading commissions. Extremely popular because of this innovative feature, the Robinhood app became an important part of the GameStop short squeeze situation at the beginning of 2021. Since that, Robinhood’s downloads increased significantly.
Screens of the robinhood investment app
How the Robinhood app works
What users like about this app:
  • very simple interface;
  • no commissions;
  • works fast;
  • trades cryptocurrency along with stocks and options.


This app’s creators successfully implemented a lot of gamification techniques to teach people how to trade. Invstr is a perfect example of learning through fun challenges and competitions.
Screens of the invstr app
How the Invstr app works
What users like about this app:
  • learning while playing with virtual cash;
  • top performers earn real money;
  • asking advice from a community of investors.
Are you planning to make a game-like app that will teach trading? Gamification techniques keep users engaged and work excellently in many industries. Check out this article from our blog, it might interest you.


This is a newer stock simulator app, released in 2019. The main focus of Wealthbase is user-friendliness and social networking features. What users like about this app:
  • smooth work;
  • social media environment with chats and updates;
  • leaderboards and other gamified features.
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How to Make Your Own Investment App

If you want to build an app like Acorns or Robinhood, your focus should be on user-friendliness and innovative features. This is the best way to gain people’s interest and trust in such a competitive market. We’ll provide some tips to help you select and follow the best practices for building an investment app.

Intuitive User Interface

Why should a mobile application’s interface be intuitive? UX design makes it clearer, more understandable, and easier-to-navigate for each user. The best investment apps work well for both categories – a curious novice and an experienced investor. How do you develop an intuitive user interface for an investing app? You can follow these tips:
  1. Keep things simple.
  2. Focus on saving a user’s time.
  3. Think about how best to solve pain points.
  4. Create a rational, consistent user journey.
  5. Decide on the tappable (action) elements and indicators, alongside the walk-through (coach) elements.
  6. Choose the right colors of elements to encourage actions.
  7. Adjust in-app graphics to different screens.
  8. Carefully design your investment apps’ logo and icons.

Features for a User Account

An investor account will be a crucial part of your app. Make sure it enables personalization and has lots of exciting features.
Features for users on investment apps
Key examples of user functionality on investment apps
Some apps provide real-time market news for their users. Another useful feature is providing third-party integrations with other apps because people typically download products from different companies to figure out which one is best for them. Many apps offer visualized statistics of user activity. Are you planning to add some advanced features to your investment app? Here are some ideas to choose from:
  • individual progress bars;
  • leaderboards;
  • cryptocurrency;
  • multi-currency;
  • comparison of companies’ financial performance;
  • expert reviews;
  • risk prevention;
  • tax wrapping;
  • donations and charitable giving;
  • user statistics and reports;
  • in-app community;
  • tutorials and FAQs;
  • trading simulator;
  • free trial time.

Customer Support

Investing app users deal with lots of information that may be new to them. Provide fast support and problem-solving, and people will be much likely to use your app and rank it higher in stores. There are many ways to organize customer support:
  1. Comment & Review section where you can answer.
  2. E-mail support.
  3. Phone support with a callback.
  4. Chatbots for typical inquiries.
  5. In-app help center.
  6. 24/7 live chat.
  7. Personal advisor.
It’s best if you choose several different communication channels for your investing app. Do you want to foster the users’ trust? Make sure that you provide fast and quality feedback.

Modular Structure for Investment Apps

How do you implement the essential functions to your MVP and create the basis for later expansions and improvements? The answer is – creating functional blocks, or modules. They are easy to develop and maintain. Besides, a modular structure means you can create several versions of your investment app to offer free and premium subscription to users. You’ll find some examples of a trading app's functional modules in the chart below.
Module Description
Users Information on the profile, personal settings, history, dashboard, etc. You can make integrations with social media, Apple account, Google Calendar, etc.
Communication Public and private chats, direct messages, discussion boards, etc.
Trading Instruments to buy and sell, receive payments and watch transactions, check bids and deposits, and so on.
Markets Instruments to search, watch, collect and analyze financial data like price fluctuations and other numbers. Filters for searching and sorting. Graphs, candlestick charts, pie charts, or other kinds of visual representation.
Simulator Virtual training environment to learn how to invest and trade without risking real money.
Education Should be connected to a Simulator module to provide glossaries, tutorials, etc.
News Provides relevant daily information on stock markets and price influencing factors through integrations with news agencies, social media, digital newspapers, etc.
Experts Allows to read analytics and tips from experienced, renowned investors. It may become premium content that requires additional fees from users.
Notifications You can send reminders and updates to the users in the form of SMS messages, push notifications, e-mails, etc.

Data Security for Trading Apps

It’s not enough to create an investment app and invite users. Protection of their data is essential, especially when it comes to online transactions. Moreover, it’s a huge competition factor – the more secure your application is, the more likely investors will use it and recommend it to friends. And finally, advanced data security measures will help you avoid legal disagreements. The most common encryption standards are 256-bit and 2048-bit SSL certificates. Some investing apps use SIPC to protect money, stocks, and bonds. Other ways to enhance in-app security include two-factor authentication, PIN codes, and biometrics like fingerprint authentication.
Tips to secure an investment app
How to make a secure investment app
What else you can do to strengthen the data security system on your investing app:
  • provide your customers with quick tips on how to protect their passwords and other sensitive data;
  • offer long, random, unique passwords;
  • apply session management with an automatic logout and lockout;
  • isolate the components receiving sensitive data;
  • hire professional programmers;
  • thoroughly test your app’s security.

Cost to Make a Mobile App for Investments

Reading this article, you might have already realized that investing apps come in different shapes and sizes, e.g., have variable purpose and functionality. The complexity of your project will directly influence how much it costs to build an investing app. Another influencing factor is your preparation before you hire the development team. For example, you can conduct research to gather valuable information about your app’s potential audience and their needs. If you do business analysis, select a list of features, and even create an app’s prototype, it will be a significant price-reducing factor. How much time and money does it take to build an investment app? You’ll find some approximate numbers in the chart.
Stage Time Cost
Business analysis 80 hours from $2,000
Prototyping and UX/UI design 160 hours from $6,000
App development 720 hours from $40,000
Final testing and launch to stores 120 hours from $5,000
Updates and tech support 40 hours a month from $1,000
If you wish to build a product from scratch, the price will start from $53,000. In case you already have worked your idea in detail and only need the development and testing, the price will be around $45,000.
Many startups and long-existing companies find reasonable prices in Eastern Europe, where experienced developers’ hourly rate is from $30.
To sum up, the main pricing factors are:
  • business model (your audience, monetization strategy, etc.);
  • platform (iOS, Android, both);
  • type (simulator, advisor, gamified, etc.);
  • functionality (basic, extended);
  • design (custom, UX/UI, animated elements, etc.);
  • development team (experience, size, location, etc.)
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Bottom Line

The mobile investing market is constantly growing over the last five years. If you want to build and launch an app like Robinhood, Stash, Acorns, etc., it will require thorough planning. Working with Exceed Team, you get all stages performed for you, from business analysis and UX/UI design to app development, Q/A testing, and launch. Contact us, and let’s turn an initial concept into a full-blown product.
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