Building a Better Financial App — Low-Code Platform Mendix Helps Companies Meet Customers’ Digital Needs

Building a Better Financial App — Low-Code Platform Mendix Helps Companies Meet Customers’ Digital Needs
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Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: April 4, 2018
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In a Nutshell: In the digital age, consumers expect convenience, but building professional-quality mobile applications from scratch can be costly and time-consuming. The low-code app development platform, Mendix, helps financial institutions keep pace with an advancing market by using an approach that emphasizes simplicity. Its easy-to-use visual interface lets developers quickly create apps that provide convenience for customers. Mendix also allows apps to install atop existing information systems with minimal coding, likewise easing integration. With this kind of efficiency, Mendix accelerates development, reduces costs, and decreases time to market, giving financial institutions a competitive edge.

Consider the traditional loan application process: a customer fills in forms with relevant personal information, and then waits a few days to hear back from the lender.

But what if that customer could provide some general information, like age and an income range, to quickly see the amount they could qualify for? What if he or she could move directly from there into the formal application process? And what if it could all be done on a phone or tablet?

This kind of ease and convenience is valuable to consumers, but not every financial service provider offers such expeditious service. Adapting old systems to meet modern needs can be expensive, time-consuming, and risky — all of which puts financial institutions at a disadvantage among competitors that got their start in the digital era.

Mendix is a low-code development tool offering a solution to precisely this problem. The platform offers fast, easy, and cost-effective app design that integrates with older financial service systems, supplementing and augmenting them to avoid costly and potentially problematic overhauls. With Mendix, financial institutions can quickly develop and deploy apps that their customers want, need, and (just as importantly) can easily use.

Mendix Logo

“We provide a platform for our customers to build solutions for themselves,” said Jasper van der Hoek, Enterprise Architect at Mendix. “They can focus on making the best experience rather than focusing on building a lot of technological details.”

A Design Philosophy for the Digital Era

Mendix was founded on the principle that successful digital products have user-centric designs. In the case of financial services apps, the goals are to improve access to information and services while simplifying user interactions. Mendix takes the same approach to developing these apps: simplify development so financial customers can enjoy simplified experiences.

The platform helps institutions produce effective financial service apps that offer digital solutions to traditional interactions. One example would be waiting in line at the bank for a teller. Instead of filling out slips in the lobby, people want to be able to transfer money or deposit checks using only their smartphones.

“Everybody just expects it to be on the phone,” van der Hoek said. “People are expecting a great mobile experience.”

Mendix’s user-oriented, mobile-first design philosophy helps financial service providers create that experience. The software’s elegant, visual approach to programming lets businesses rapidly develop and deploy effective apps suited to their consumers’ desires and needs.

Better User Experience through Model-Driven Programming

Mendix offers a low-code, model-driven method of app development. No coding is necessary to use the platform and build an application; the entire design process is visually based. Designers make screens and draw process diagrams using drag-and-drop interactions.

The simplified approach allows area specialists (for example, loan agents) to conceptualize and create user-centric apps (like the loan app discussed above) without in-depth technical expertise.

Mendix’s WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) approach also makes it easy to envision how apps will function. In this case, what the designer sees is what the end user gets. This allows designers to understand and interact with the app the way end users would, thereby building a product based on consumers’ needs and expectations.

Once a Mendix-made app is ready to deploy, it overlays existing information systems rather than altering or replacing them. The platform enables developers to produce effective, functional apps without the need to overhaul systems that otherwise couldn’t accommodate such interactions.

“They’re still somewhat limited by their existing processes that the mainframes allow,” van der Hoek said, “but they can still make that mobile experience on top of their legacy software and create a new experience in Mendix.”

Although the Mendix platform can be used without traditional coding knowledge, coding is required for legacy systems to interact with apps produced through Mendix.

“It’s a very flexible platform,” van der Hoek said. “There are many different standard technologies that we can integrate with, even if banks or financial institutions are still stuck with old mainframe systems.

“If you’re integrating with a mainframe from the 1970s, it’s very likely that there’s some arbitrary protocol that we’ve never used before. In that case, you can still do custom coding just to expose the data from the mainframe into the standard Mendix framework.”

This allows businesses to maintain the integrity of their data and continuity of service while still providing innovative digital solutions to customers.

“And then you can use the visual editor to build the rest of the functionality,” van der Hoek said. “That way, you can work with your business users and your stakeholders to build the best possible process.”

Mendix further facilitates this by making it easier to innovate and leverage new technology. Developers can test ideas using machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) without the need for major overhauls and investments. This design and integration process means easier development and deployment of better apps. And such simplicity means faster delivery of digital solutions to the consumers who want them.

Value from Fast, Iterated Development

Thanks to the platform’s functionality, app development through Mendix can be six to 10 times faster than through traditional means. A new app can launch in six weeks, and a new self-service portal in as little as 90 days.

This expediency makes Mendix a valuable prototyping tool. There’s no need to conceptualize the product, construct a mockup, test it, improve on it, and then build the final model. With Mendix, the functional prototype instantly becomes the final product.

Mendix encourages quick building, testing, and refining through an iterative development approach. All Mendix-made apps are, by default, hosted on the Mendix Cloud. This eliminates the need for financial service providers to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support a new offering. Moreover, cloud-based deployment allows testing to begin instantly; when a developer wants to evaluate functionality, he or she need only push the app onto the cloud and begin.

Portrait of Jasper van der Hoek, Enterprise Architect at Mendix

Jasper van der Hoek, Enterprise Architect at Mendix.

“If it doesn’t work, you’ll know in a few days and be able to start with a new idea,” van der Hoek said.

This sort of rapid feedback reveals what works and what doesn’t, allowing developers to quickly adjust, test again, and perfect the app. This approach also makes it simpler to pitch the app through a functional, accessible version.

“You can immediately just show it, rather than talking through some stuffy PowerPoint presentation,” van der Hoek said.

The ease and speed that Mendix offers means a faster time to market for innovative apps. This helps any financial service provider stay competitive in a marketplace constantly transforming under the influence of digital technology. And, just as importantly, it means service apps will more quickly find their way into the hands of the consumers who want them.

Effective Solutions for Institutions and Their Customers

In closing, Mendix offers efficiency: easy development, fast deployment, and an increased ability to meet consumer expectations. A lender using the traditional application method is at a distinct disadvantage to one that allows users to apply for loans without leaving their couches.

“The revenue that might have gone to somebody else now goes to our customers,” van der Hoek said.

In a competitive digital market, financial service apps must offer improved engagement and interaction through automation. Traditional app development through coding can meet these needs, but Mendix meets them faster. The platform’s expedient approach to development and deployment saves time and money, which means lower rates and better experiences for financial consumers.