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How To Build a Great Crowd-Investing or Crowdfunding App?

Crowdfunding an app has become popular among the entrepreneurs short on cash. You’ll find loads of guides, tips and company success stories with a quick Google search.

Yet, people really speak of the opposite – building a crowdfunding app for others. Think about it. The demand is obviously there. Seeking mass investments, getting loans and asking your fans to chip in online has become the new norm.

In fact, now may be the best time to build a mobile app for crowdfunding.

The State of The Crowdfunding Industry

The global crowdfunding market is forecasted to grow by 26.87% during the period 2016-2020.

And this growth refers not just to the popular reward-based model offered by the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but a few other niches as well:

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending
  • Equity investment
  • Royalty-based
  • Hybrid-based
  • Donations

Here’s a quick overview of how much money was raised in those segments in 2015:

crowdfunding_industry_2015_models

And on a global scale:

growth-of-crowdfunding-2015

As you can see, P2P lending proved to be one of the most popular funding options and netted over $25 billion dollars to prospective businesses. According to PwC’s analysis, the global P2P lending market can reach $150 billion or higher by 2025.

If you want to make your own crowd-investing app, think no further. The demand is already there.

How P2P Lending Platforms Work

The majority of P2P lending and crowd-investing platforms act as matchmakers between borrowers and lenders. They don’t put their own assets at stake, which makes it a quite “safe” business model for startups as well.

Income is generated through origination fees for borrowers and/or from the portion of interest charged to investors as the servicing fee. Additional fees may also apply to both parties. In return, borrowers benefit from a streamlined application process, fast decisions and multiple sources of funding.

According to the same research by PwC, 80% of funding on these platforms actually comes from institutional investors, unlike the reward-based crowdfunding model.

Yet, mobile crowd-investing applications are now marrying the traditional web P2P lending platforms with the benefits of crowdfunding websites and attracting a more informal crowd of investors.

Define Your Target Audience

As already mentioned, crowdfunding comes in different shapes and forms. In some cases, bakers merely loan the money and expect a repayment with an interest. Other platforms offer rewards, while more “serious” players help you get connected either with multiple investors interested in an equity share or open to lending six-figure sums to your business.

So, the first logical step of crowdfunding app development is to settle on the niche and scrutinize your target audience.

Ask yourself the following questions?

  • Do I plan to cater to professional investors only or not?
  • Will I offer loan payments?
  • Do I plan to offer equity shares to the investors?
  • Will I have an investment/loan cap e.g. $50.000 max per project or not?
  • How will I choose and vet the potential investors/lenders and funding seekers? Again the mechanism will be completely different for a casual investing/lending platform and the one geared towards closing larger funding rounds.

In this guide, we’ll focus on developing a casual P2P crowd-investing/crowdfunding app.

Key Features of a Crowd-Investing App

The first question to address is this – should I build two separate custom apps for bakers and business owners?

Nope, there’s no need to inflate the development costs and one app (on iOS, Android or both) is suffice.

You can create two separate registration and login forms that would be governed through the admin panel and deliver respective information to the two categories of users.

If we are talking about P2P lending apps, borrowers will likely log into the app occasionally – whenever they need to create a campaign or to check their repayment status. Otherwise, all the payments will be made automatically from their bank account. So most businesses focus on building an investor-facing app first.

A crowdfunding app may require having a web interface as well as creating and filling up the campaign details from mobile may be a bit cumbersome. So, you may want to allow users doing that from their laptops and then switching to a mobile app for monitoring, updates, and promotion.

Investment Opportunities

If you want to create a crowdfunding app for iOS, take a look at Crowd2Fund – a British startup helping small local businesses to get funded.

crowd2fund-app

The app features attractive campaign descriptions clearly stating the potential risks, equity share, possible tax relief (great to include if that’s applicable in your area), and the total funding required.

Additionally, investors are provided with detailed analytics on their current portfolio, which is arguably the single most important dashboard in your app. Users should clearly understand where their money goes and how they are working for them (or not).

LendingRobot Dashboard app is a great example of a companion app for investors that would allow them to check in on their portfolio performance. It could be a handy addition to your web app to steer up the engagement rates.

lending-robot-dashboard

Lending Opportunities

If you plan to develop a P2P lending app, check out Ledge and Taplend – two similar products allowing users to create loan requests and receive money either from friends or from financial institutions (in case with Taplend – a Ukrainian startup we happen to know casually :))

Ledge

smartselectimage_2015-09-24-13-31-43-2

Users can create simple loan requests in just a few taps and ask their connections to chip in. Ledge caps the loans at $5.000 max, while Taplend allows requesting larger sums of money.

Taplend

taplend

Once the campaign goal is met the funds are automatically transferred to your linked bank account or debit card. All the repayments are made automatically, according to the set terms.

In both cases, however, we are quite unsure what happens if the borrower doesn’t have the required sum in their account when it’s due. But it’s an important issue you’ll need to figure out before launching your solution to the market. Along with the fees/interest rates (if any) you plan to impose on the users.

Payments

Payment integration will constitute a large part of the total app development price in this case.

First of all, you’ll need to decide on the payment provider. We’ve compared different gateways, along with integration tips in this post.

Stripe, Braintree, and Paypal are typically the most common options. Ledge payments are powered by Venmo (as they’ve actually created this app). Considering that it’s a digital wallet, the funds are transferred from the user’s account straight to the lender and back according to the repayment terms.

So, Ledge basically doesn’t touch any money, which has allowed them to overcome a lot of regulations traditionally associated with the lending industry. Again, this is something you should look into before hiring the developers.

You can create a similar arrangement by integrating PayPal and taking the repayments out of the user’s’ balance there.

Additionally, you should allow lenders/borrowers to set their own repayment time frame and adjust the interest rates accordingly.

Most P2P lending apps will return the funds to the bakers if the campaign was not 100% funded. You may want to overlook that.

Also, if you plan to develop a crowdfunding app on Android, think about the additional security measures as this platform is more prone to malicious attacks and hacks. For instance, you may not allow installing your app on rooted devices.

To Wrap It Up

Your first major step is to decide the scale of crowdfunding you wish to support at your app. Next, you should map out your loan strategy and make sure you are following all the local regulations in place.

To fund larger projects, you may want to consider building a micro-investing app instead. Check out our market research in this niche.

If you plan to offer a simpler solution for lending money from friends, focus on creating a simple interface, instant sharing buttons, and seamless repayment options.

The cost to build a mobile app for crowd-investing will largely depend on the required functionality. You can check our previous guide about app pricing with an app project specifications template inside or just ping us directly with your questions!

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