When building a mobile-first product specially designed for the crypto economy, there are many aspects to consider throughout the planning, production and testing stages. The result? A mobile-first bank account that both crypto natives and the everyday spender love to use.
We managed to track down the ever-busy ‘Crypto Bank Squad’ to give us the low-down behind the making of the Bitwala app, now available on iOS and Android. Our team worked tirelessly to deliver seamlessly integrated onboarding, bitcoin wallet creation and fast liquidity straight to your mobile.
Who are we speaking to today? Maria, Jeremy and Shawn are our mobile product rockstars while Arif, Leo Emad, Arturs and Amit are the superhero developers working behind the scenes.
"First things first, how did the planning for the app come about?"
Shawn: Something like, “let’s build a kickass mobile app on iOS and Android as fast as we possibly can!”
Maria: The same planning that we do for any feature that we develop. To put it simply: UI/UX and tech concepts - necessary requirements - development - testing. There are some specifics when working with mobile apps in terms of how the app is going to look like in the app store and play store, going through their existing reviews etc. It was quite a lot of ‘new’ learning for us.
Jeremy: The necessity for a cutting-edge mobile app was obvious from the very first design sprint; our high paced modern lifestyles simply require it. We actually began the daunting process of creating an entire banking interface from scratch - ‘mobile-first’. This is standard design practice nowadays and ensures that the most essential components are prioritised effectively on that tiny little mobile screen. Expanding for the web is much easier, and organised, than the other way around.
Arturs: Planning was quite fast-paced. After rough ideas are formed, a lot is learned and improved on-the-go. Getting right into it allowed us to tweak certain aspects of the app that we weren't satisfied with.
"What was the ultimate goal of the app and when did you want that “eureka” moment to happen?"
Maria: Many users were asking for the app and for us, this was as well a must-have for the digital world our users live in. When we finished with the web app we immediately started to develop mobile.
Shawn: In this day and age a slick mobile app is absolutely vital for financial services. Our aim from the start has been to bridge the worlds between the crypto and fiat economies. With our new app, you can simply swipe between worlds to move Euros and Bitcoin seamlessly. Our app has been built in line with our company values, two of which are, ‘Users come first’ and ’Built for Trust'.
Jeremy: While we’re really proud of the web app, with the release of the mobile app, these two worlds now sit comfortably in your pocket and are only a swipe apart. This ease of use is something we’ve worked really hard to create, and are excited to share with the world.
"What most excites you about working on the app?"
Maria: It was very exciting to convert the functionality we have on the web to the mobile format, decide on what additionally we can give to the users and the whole excitement of building something new!
Arif: Of course, I'm also a Bitwala customer and heavy crypto fan. As a developer and as a user I was doubly excited to be able to manage my Bitwala account with the native application interface and some features that were not possible on the web (eg push notification, quick and secure login with fingerprint, etc.) and to be one of the developers of these solutions.
Leo: For a smooth banking experience, a mobile app is pretty mandatory. I was really excited to work on the app as I was able to bridge the gap!
Shawn: I was particularly interested in working on the sign-up process. To be able to convert our web sign-up process into an intuitive mobile experience was an exciting yet daunting task. In 2019, your sign-up process has to be slick or you risk drastic drops in conversion. To combine, plan and implement requirements from all stakeholders was a true challenge. My favourite part is the built-in video verification, this is going to be a game-changer and will allow a seamless onboarding experience for our users.
Emad: Alright, alright, alright … well, I remember one day we were in the big meeting room and we find out that we have only two months to build a mobile app from scratch; challenge accepted! We as the team built a smooth, sexy, beautiful, fast and reliable app, and there was no magic, no sir, it's called teamwork & We have a great team here at Bitwala, this app is proof that teamwork will work.
Jeremy: Making occasional trades on the web app is nice, but with the release of the mobile app the Bitwala Account is now a real banking alternative. Notifications, locking and unlocking your card, and of course, sending receiving and trading from anywhere is a powerful combination. We’re excited to use it ourselves and can’t wait to hear what people think of it.
"What’s your favourite feature?"
Maria: For me, the cherry on the cake is that you can sign off BTC transactions (Send BTC and Sell BTC) with the biometrics (your face identification or fingerprint). This is very exciting when you can sell BTC with such ease.
Shawn: To be able to hold and view my Euros and Bitcoin in one mobile app in a legitimate, regulated bank account is the top pick for me. I no longer need to open multiple apps or websites to check my finances, I can just swipe between the two worlds using my Bitwala app.
Arturs: I will give my vote for all the trading aspects. Buying and selling Bitcoin with Bitwala is now easier than changing your phone background image. That is something I consider a great achievement given many other complex solutions out there.
"What was the best part about working on the app?"
Maria: We are a great team and working together is always fun, even though we have so many challenges to overcome, the team spirit and dedication make it fun and exciting.
Amit: Learning React native as it was my first time working on mobile application development and it was awesome, I got to learn a lot of pretty cool things in the process, especially the many different aspects of security.
Emad: Debugging the React Native app was always fun if you know what I mean, react native is great. notLaunching.
Arturs: Great communication within the team and listening to Slipknot while working on Android, both of which were absolutely necessary for the astonishing app that we managed to put out there.
"Will there be more to come? Can you give anything away?"
Maria: Definitely, we are still just at the beginning and have lots of exciting ideas that we will bring to life. Stay tuned for more information and sneak peeks :)
Shawn: Absolutely! Two of my favourite company values at Bitwala are ‘Not another bank’ and ‘Users come first’. We look forward to constantly improving the app, releasing new features requested by you, whilst ensuring that they stay in line with our company values.
Jeremy: With the web and mobile apps live, the foundations are laid and we can now build upon them with confidence. Price alerts, finer grain controls, and of course more cryptocurrencies and possibly other digital assets, just to name a few. It’s a really exciting time at Bitwala right now, and I’m proud to work for a company with such an ambitious vision of the future.