Financial App Development: To Build, Buy, or Both - Hydrogen
Financial App Development: To Build, Buy, or Both

Financial App Development: To Build, Buy, or Both

It’s a question as old as time – should you build, buy, or both? Well, maybe not as old as time but it has been debated for many years within every industry. This decision can vary greatly depending on many factors such as your organization’s size, global footprint, IT/development resources, budget, long-term plans, and your company’s strategy and vision.

Here at Hydrogen we speak to banks, financial service firms, and even startups on a daily basis and we encourage them to evaluate all of their options. 

So, let’s take a look at the various options.

Option One: Building a Fintech Application from Scratch

Building a financial application from scratch may be the right approach if you believe it will give you a sustainable competitive advantage, there are no other solutions available on the market, or you want to have full and complete control of the entire application. Now you may be thinking, “Of course I want full and complete control”, well that may be the thought when building from scratch, but what happens if key personal on the team leave? That full and complete control may leave with them.

Building a financial application from scratch is time-consuming and expensive. You need highly skilled development, engineering, business, and product team members on staff and if you don’t have this in place, hiring the right team is exhausting. Even with a team in place, it typically takes a year or more to develop an enterprise application. There is also a steep learning curve for any new development staff that joins your company, and the cost to maintain a custom application can get expensive.

Option Two: White-labeling a Financial Product

White-labeling a product has its advantages as well. In most cases, it’s less expensive than building from scratch and you can get your finance application to market faster. Unless you are looking for simple, embeddable widgets, these products rarely provide all of the functionality you need. Often times, it will still require customizing the product to make the application function how you, and more importantly, your users want.

Another problem we frequently hear about is, once one group within a company has created a new application, another business unit now wants to create another financial application. This business unit now has to go and research other third-party products and onboard yet another vendor. None of the data connects together and they have an even more disparate technology stack. This can become tedious and incredibly expensive if the organization decides to create multiple products in multiple regions across different business units.

Option Three: Leveraging a Low-Code Configurable API Platform

Building with a low-code configurable API fintech platform provides organizations with the best of both worlds. You leverage a quality, innovative, platform that can get organizations just about to the finish line when it comes to a complete application. Also, like white-labeling, it is less expensive and provides a faster time to market than building from scratch. However, unlike white-labeling a product, a platform like Hydrogen lets you quickly develop new applications and features from the same platform. This why we call our platform Hydrogen – atom element #1 – the only platform you will ever need for fintech development.

Important Metrics & KPIs

When talking with prospects and clients, we hear a few recurring questions or comments. What will this cost me? How fast can we get something to market? What does ongoing maintenance and support look like? What is the learning curve? Can we use this for other applications throughout our organization? These are great questions to ask and below is a table that provides a bit more context.

Metrics & KPIs
Build from scratch
White-Labeled Product
Low-Code Configurable Platform
Cost
$$$$
$$
$$
Time to market
Years
Months – Years
Months
Ongoing maintenance & support
$$$
$$
$
Learning curve
Steep
Moderate
Low
Used for multiple applications
No
No
Yes

Building with Hydrogen

Hydrogen’s platform consists of APIs, libraries, business logic, apps, and integrations that act as your fintech product innovation & development acceleration platform. Our team has decades of experience in the financial services industry and has spent tens of thousands of hours building our platform. Hydrogen makes it easy for organizations of all sizes to quickly spin up new applications utilizing ONE unified platform. On top of this, Hydrogen is constantly building new integrations into our platform making it easier for our clients to connect to the 3rd party tools and data sources needed to run their applications. Through our UI library, Element, beautiful user interfaces, and user experiences can be developed with react components, embeddable widgets, and custom white-label UIs.

So, if you are building a financial planning application today and in six months you want to build a wealth management application, you can do so without having to start over from scratch or purchasing another vendor’s product.

What is even more unique to Hydrogen is the ability to add blockchain components to your financial applications with our Molecule product. Maybe you had a need to add tokenization, crypto payments, or remittance to your application. You can quickly and easily do so with Molecule.

Use Case

But don’t just take our word for it. One of our large financial customers was planning to build a portfolio management application from scratch. They created a plan to execute this and it was going to take 18 months and $15M to complete. Instead of building from scratch, they chose to use Hydrogen and were able to get this new application to market in 6 months and for a fraction of the cost. On top of this, they now have a platform that they can utilize for any other applications they want to build, globally. No need to build from scratch or purchase other 3rd party products.


If an organization has an in-house development team, there is always the push to build because they can supposedly satisfy all needs. However, from my experience and observation, it is usually far cheaper and faster to buy than to build. After all, if a problem has been adequately solved in a commercial product, why solve it again? Why not focus on a new and more interesting problem?

Chris Doig, CIO article

So, what is holding you back from building multiple financial applications, the next Robinhood or Coinbase, or adding blockchain components to your application? Contact us today to get started!

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Hydrogen is the Global Fintech Acceleration Platform
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