How can we ensure we have what it takes to implement a Fintech project successfully? There are a few things that you should cover to improve your chances of success.
Part 1: The list of the basics.
Software projects are still human-centric activities, so I cannot overstate the importance of the people working on the project. The selection and retention of the right talent is perhaps the most critical factor of all.
First of all, we need capable people. We need a great team, not just great individuals. We need knowledgeable, detail-oriented people with problem-solving skills who care about security. But some more difficult-to-measure factors are essential, too, like loyalty, trustworthiness, and dependability.
The team must undergo constant training in business, technology-related topics, security, and compliance.
There are some essential factors to consider when creating or evaluating the idea for a Fintech project or platform.
First, you’ll need to be acquainted with the project’s business or industry. You need to know as much as possible to consider many factors that can tip the project toward failure.
Then, you should thoroughly research the market, competitors, and leaders. It’s no good to invest money and time developing a product that already exists or for which there is no market. It’s also important to know how the business or industry is doing from an economic standpoint.
Last, we must ensure that our ideas comply with all laws and regulations. You may have an excellent idea, but if it happens to be illegal where you are operating, it will lead to nothing (or jail).
We cannot talk about Fintech without discussing technology.
What do you need to consider in terms of technology before starting a project?
First and foremost, the tech stack that we are going to use. We often want to use the latest and greatest, but when starting a long-lived project, this may not be the best option. New technologies may disappear or evolve long-term, leaving us unsupported, and they usually lack documentation and examples. And, of course, some time needs to go by before we can find answers on Stack Overflow.
Whatever technology we choose, it needs to be maintained by a team. I recommend against any library, framework, or tool with a single creator or maintainer. I learned this the hard way when in the middle of a project, we found some obscure, hard-to-fix bugs in the library and realized that the maintainer had abandoned the project.
Another vital thing to look for is the number of engineers available in the given technology. Even if we plan to program ourselves at the beginning or have some friends do it, we’ll need a team in the long term, and selecting the wrong technology can reduce the availability of developers.
Another thing to consider is if we are going to use a particular cloud provider. This may introduce some service or technology lock-ins that can make it difficult to change in the future as the product grows and new business opportunities arise.
There are a couple of basics to cover regarding data. Information is at the heart of Fintech and, as such, it requires special attention. In some cases, data access and APIs are exactly what some services charge for.
First, we need to understand which data we will store and the purpose of storing it. We must ensure we communicate our data use policies to users and that we handle data ethically.
If we store personal data, we must comply with legal requirements defined by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If there is personally identifiable information (PII), we must ensure that only authorized people access it and that any access or usage gets logged for audit purposes.
Once we define that we are storing personal data, PII, or financial data, we must take all reasonable measures to keep it safe and secure.
Another critical aspect of data is availability. If our product depends on specific data to service clients, we must take measures to ensure availability. We may need to take steps towards data replication and ensuring that it remains available if we face problems with some parts of the system or even cloud providers.
Every product or service needs users. We must not only acquire users, but also retain them. And they expect a certain level of usability, quality, and functionality from professional applications.
There certainly are basics to cover regarding this issue. We should not overlook the importance of simplicity and usability. If a user needs a manual or tutorial on how to use software, we probably haven’t designed it from their point of view. Users are unwilling to train themselves on how to work with each platform they download or interact with. They expect things to flow in a certain way.
Sometimes, simplicity and usability collide with another key factor: Adding value. The user needs to feel that the platform adds enough to their experience. We often design complex interactions by giving the user the ultimate flexibility and possibilities, while hindering the interface with lots of options and steps.
Users will stay if they perceive that the product is good quality. They need to feel safe while using financial services.
Product or Platform
There are some critical factors to consider when developing the product or platform. As Fintech projects are money-related, security, availability, integrity, and durability become essential.
If the platform is not secure, it can lose money, users can lose confidence, and legal issues may arise.
If the platform is unavailable, it can hurt trust or even create a massive run out of users, leading to a downward project spiral.
If platform integrity is compromised, users will again lose money and trust.
And we cannot overemphasize the importance of durability in this kind of project. People tend to invest their money in the long term and look for stable solutions or ideas that can stand the passing of time. Is our platform going to last two years? Five? Or ten and beyond?
No project is an island. We’ll probably be integrating multiple third-party services, products, or platforms. It’s crucial that we keep these integrations up to date and follow up with these third parties to make sure we know if they are having issues, security updates, or any other kind of service outage.
We must evaluate these external dependencies and the risks involved in using them.
Operations and maintenance
Another essential operation and maintenance aspect involves ensuring that we follow the best practices possible to reduce human error and operating costs. For example, we need to automate all deployments. Actually, we should automate everything that can be automated.
We also shouldn’t forget about backups. It’s pointless to store backups and later realize they cannot be recovered or are corrupted. We need to have a seamless backup policy and execution and ensure that we are testing these backups to retrieve them when needed.
And lastly, we should always have some logging and monitoring measures in place. We must know what’s going on and ensure that the platform is accessible and working correctly for users.
I left this for last, but I think it should be one of our main concerns. We must do everything we can to keep our product secure. Security is an ongoing responsibility, not something we remember once every blue moon.
Given that we are working with money and finances, I recommend you have regular third-party audits of the system’s security. Internal teams are often biased regarding the platform and its use. Having external people trying to attack it can be helpful, and you’ll gain some peace of mind.
And we cannot overstate the importance of training people: 95% of security issues arise from people making mistakes, connecting from unsecured places, sharing credentials, or installing unsafe software.
Training should be continuous so that the personnel learns about security and stays alert.
Fintech is one of the fastest-growing verticals in IT and is among the preferred ones by investors.
It’s a competitive industry where errors are expensive, both in terms of money and brand credibility.
When creating Fintech products or platforms, you need to transform an idea into a service people want to use. For this, you’ll need a team that uses technology and data to run a business that provides value. Those are the basics you need to get right.
From the idea to the operation and maintenance, there is a lot of room for improvement, but some things will make everything much easier if you get them right from the start.
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