Low-code development in banking – a comprehensive guide

Eximee Team
Published 20/06/2024

In today’s digital era, banks face the challenge of rapidly evolving customer expectations, regulatory demands, and fierce competition. Traditional software development methods often struggle to keep pace due to their complexity and lengthy cycles. Intelligent banking solutions that digitize financial services offerings and improve customer experiences are essential. The low-code development process offers a solution by enabling faster, more efficient application creation with minimal hand-coding.
This guide explores low-code development in banking, highlighting its evolution, benefits, and key use cases. We will provide insights on selecting a low-code development platform, lay out a strategy for implementing it, and go through the process of building low-code banking applications.

Historical perspective on application development in banking 

Traditionally, banking relied on robust, secure, and highly regulated IT systems built using extensive coding. These legacy systems were secure and reliable but lacked flexibility. The introduction of online banking in the late 1990s marked a significant shift in the financial industry, but development remained slow and costly.

The 2010s saw fintech companies disrupt the banking industry with innovative, customer-centric solutions, highlighting the limitations of traditional banking systems. To compete, banks adopted agile development methodologies focusing on iterative progress and responsiveness to change. However, traditional coding still posed challenges in terms of speed and resource allocation.

Banks recognized the need for faster innovation while maintaining security and compliance. Low-code development platforms offered a solution by enabling shorter application development cycles and reducing the dependency on specialized coding skills. They were initially used for non-critical applications but as they matured, they supported complex business applications.

What is low-code application development?

Low-code development is an approach to software creation that minimizes the amount of hand-coding required. Instead of writing extensive lines of code, developers use visual interfaces and pre-built components to design applications. This method accelerates the software development process, making it accessible to both professional developers and those with less technical expertise.

Key features of low-code application development tools

  • Visual development tools – drag-and-drop interfaces allow users to design banking application components visually, simplifying the development process.
  • Pre-built templates and components – ready-made UI components and templates for common banking functions speed up development.
  • Automated code generation – the platform generates the underlying code based on the visual design, ensuring consistency and reducing errors in banking applications.
  • Integration capabilities – built-in connectors for integrating with core banking systems and third-party services.
  • Compliance and security – features specifically designed to meet banking industry regulations and security standards.

Advantages of low-code development

  • Speed and efficiency – rapid prototyping and development shorten the time to market for new banking applications and services.
  • Cost reduction – reduced need for extensive coding and testing, lowering overall development costs for banks.
  • Flexibility – the ability to customize and extend applications beyond what low-code platforms can offer, accommodating complex banking requirements.
  • Accessibility – empowers non-developers within the bank to participate in the development process, fostering innovation across the organization.
  • Consistency and quality – automated code generation ensures consistent standards and reduces the risk of errors, essential for maintaining trust in banking applications.
  • Enhanced collaboration – low-code platforms facilitate better collaboration between IT and business teams by providing a common language and tools. This collaborative approach ensures that business requirements are met more accurately and quickly, leading to more effective solutions.
  • Better customer experience – faster deployment of services leads to a better customer experience. Banks can quickly roll out new features, respond to customer feedback, and adapt to market changes, providing a seamless and responsive banking experience.

Key use cases of low-code in banking

Low-code development in the banking sector offers numerous opportunities to optimize processes, enhance customer experiences, and ensure compliance. Here are specific use cases where low-code solutions excel.

Digital transformation

Low-code platforms are instrumental in driving digital transformation initiatives within banks. They enable the modernization of legacy systems while introducing innovative digital solutions, enhancing the institution's agility, competitiveness, and adaptability to evolving market dynamics.
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Sales

By streamlining sales processes through automation, low-code development empowers banks to manage lead generation, customer engagement, and product recommendations more efficiently. This leads to increased sales, higher revenue, and improved customer satisfaction.
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Self-service processes

Low-code solutions facilitate the creation of secure self-service processes that empower customers to get things done in the bank without the need for branch visits. This reduces operational costs for banks and provides customers with the convenience of accessing services anytime, anywhere.
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Omnichannel banking

Low-code development enables banks to provide seamless experiences across multiple channels, including online banking, mobile apps, and physical branches. This ensures consistent and personalized interactions, regardless of the channel chosen by the customer.
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Process automation

Automating repetitive tasks and workflows such as account openings or compliance checks is made easier with low-code platforms. This improves operational efficiency, reduces errors, and accelerates the time-to-market for new banking products and services.
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Employee experience

Low-code solutions enhance employee productivity and satisfaction by automating routine tasks and providing intuitive tools for task management.
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Onboarding & KYC

Low-code development facilitates modern customer identification, enabling seamless digital onboarding journeys that boost conversions. By creating frictionless cross-channel processes, banks ensure a top customer experience and brilliant first impression, meeting customer expectations for safe and fast onboarding.
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Informing customers and managing communication

Low-code development platforms like Eximee offer tools for efficient inbound and outbound communication, delivering relevant information to customers anytime, anywhere. Banks can create dedicated spaces where customers access details on their issues, available services and products, self-service options across channels, and embed surveys like NPS or CES across channels to gather valuable customer feedback.
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Integration with existing banking systems and third-party services

Low-code solutions should seamlessly integrate with core banking systems, payment gateways, and external services. This creates unified data views, streamlines operations, and expands service offerings to meet customer needs effectively.

Choosing the right low-code platform for banking applications

Selecting the right low-code platform is crucial for banks to ensure they can leverage the full potential of low-code development while meeting industry-specific requirements. Here are key criteria to consider when choosing a low-code platform for banking.

Security and compliance

Security and compliance are paramount in banking due to the sensitive nature of financial data and stringent regulatory requirements. When selecting a low-code platform, banks must ensure it includes robust security features such as data encryption, secure authentication, and access controls. Additionally, the platform should support compliance with relevant regulations like GDPR, KYC, AML, etc. Built-in audit trails and regular security updates are also essential to maintain high standards of data protection and regulatory adherence.

Scalability and performance

Banks need a low-code platform that can scale with their growing needs and handle high volumes of processes efficiently. The platform should support both horizontal and vertical scaling, ensuring consistent performance during peak times. It's important to evaluate the platform's ability to maintain high performance and reliability as the number of users and processes increases.

Integration capabilities

Integration with existing systems and third-party services is critical for banks to create a cohesive technology ecosystem. The chosen low-code platform should offer robust integration capabilities, including APIs, connectors, and data integration tools. This ensures seamless connectivity with core banking systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and other essential banking applications throughout. Effective integration capabilities enable banks to streamline operations, enhance data accuracy, and provide a unified customer experience across different channels.

User interface and experience

A user-friendly interface is essential for both developers and business users who will be using the low-code platform. The platform should offer intuitive drag-and-drop tools, pre-built templates, and customizable components that make it easy to design and develop applications. Additionally, the platform should support the creation of responsive and accessible user interfaces that deliver a consistent and engaging experience across devices and channels. A good user experience in the development environment accelerates adoption and encourages collaboration between IT and business teams.
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Support and training

Effective support and training are crucial for maximizing the benefits of a low-code platform. Banks should look for vendors that offer comprehensive support services, including technical support, troubleshooting, and regular updates. Additionally, the availability of extensive training resources, such as tutorials, documentation, webinars, and hands-on workshops, is important to ensure that both developers and business users can effectively utilize the platform. Vendor-provided training also helps build internal expertise and promote best practices.

Strategy for implementing a low-code platform in the banking sector

Implementing low-code platforms in a banking environment involves a strategic approach to ensure seamless integration, maximize efficiency, and achieve desired outcomes. The following steps outline a comprehensive strategy for adopting low-code development in banks.

Assessment and planning

Stakeholder involvement

Engage key stakeholders from various departments, including IT, operations, compliance, and business units, to gather insights and build consensus on the objectives and expected outcomes.

Needs analysis

Conduct a thorough assessment to identify the specific business needs and processes that could benefit from low-code app development. Understand the pain points, inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement.

Strategic roadmap

Develop a detailed implementation roadmap that outlines the phases, timelines, resources, and budget required for the adoption of a low-code platform. Align the roadmap with the bank's overall digital transformation strategy.

Platform selection

Evaluation criteria

Define criteria for selecting a low-code platform, including ease of use, scalability, security, integration capabilities, and vendor support. Consider the specific regulatory and compliance requirements of the banking sector.

Vendor comparison

Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of available low-code platforms. Compare features, pricing, and customer reviews. Engage with vendors to understand their offerings and request demonstrations.

Decision making

Select a platform that best meets your bank's needs and long-term goals. Ensure the chosen platform can integrate with existing systems and support future scalability.

Pilot projects and proof of concept

Initial use cases

Identify a few critical business processes or applications to serve as pilot projects. These should be areas where low-code development can deliver quick wins and demonstrate value.

Proof of concept

Develop and deploy proof-of-concept applications to validate the feasibility, performance, and benefits of the selected low-code platform. Collect feedback from end-users and stakeholders.

Iterative improvements

Use the insights gained from the pilot projects to refine the approach, address any issues, and optimize the implementation strategy before a wider rollout.

Scaling and full deployment

Gradual rollout

Plan a phased rollout of low-code applications across the organization. Prioritize areas with the highest potential for impact.

Integration

Ensure seamless integration with existing systems and workflows. Leverage APIs and connectors to facilitate data flow and interoperability between the low-code platform and legacy systems.

Monitoring and optimization

Continuously monitor the performance and usage of deployed applications. Use analytics and feedback to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.
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Training and vendor support

Skill development

Provide comprehensive training programs for IT and business users to equip them with the skills needed to effectively use the low-code platform.

Ongoing support

Use vendor support to assist users during the transition and ongoing usage of the platform. It may include dedicated support teams, training, and consulting.

The low-code development process for banking applications

The low-code development process for banking applications typically follows a streamlined and iterative approach, enabling rapid application development and deployment. Here’s an overview of the key stages involved in this process.

1. Business analysis

Identify needs

Engage with stakeholders from various departments (IT, operations, compliance, business units) to gather requirements and understand specific business needs.

Define objectives

Outline the goals for the application, such as improving customer service, automating processes, or ensuring compliance.

Customer journey mapping

Analyze and map out the customer journey to understand touchpoints, pain points, and opportunities for enhancement. It helps in designing applications that improve customer experience.

2. Process modeling

Visual workflow design

Use BPMN to model the process. BPMN provides a graphical representation of business workflows, making it easier to visualize and understand the process flows. It includes defining the sequence of tasks, decision points, and integrations with other systems.

Stakeholder review

Share the process models with stakeholders to gather feedback and ensure alignment with business objectives and operational realities.

2. Development

Component assembly

Assemble the application using pre-built components and templates available in the low-code platform library.

Custom logic

Incorporate business logic through scripting or coding where necessary to meet specific requirements.

Integration

Use built-in connectors to integrate the application with existing core banking systems, third-party services, and other applications.

3. Testing

Automated testing

Utilize automated testing tools within the low-code platform to test the application for functionality and performance.

User acceptance testing (UAT)

Conduct UAT with a group of end-users to ensure the application meets their needs and performs as expected.

Iterative bug fixing

Address any issues or bugs identified during testing and iterate as needed.

4. Deployment

Staging environment

Deploy the application in a staging environment to conduct final tests and ensure everything works as intended.

Production deployment

Once validated, deploy the application to the production environment.

5. Monitoring and maintenance

Continuous monitoring

Monitor the application’s performance, user activity, and security post-deployment.

Feedback collection

Gather user feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Regular updates

Implement updates and enhancements based on user feedback and changing business needs.

Scalability

Ensure the application can scale to accommodate increasing user loads and new features.

6. Continuous improvement

Analytics and reporting

Use built-in analytics tools to track the application’s performance and impact on business processes.

Iterative enhancements

Continuously enhance the application by adding new features, optimizing workflows, and improving user interfaces based on data insights and user feedback.

Conclusion

Low-code development is transforming the banking industry by offering a more efficient and agile approach to application creation. By reducing reliance on traditional coding, banks can accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, improve customer experiences, and remain competitive in a fast-evolving market. However, it is essential to carefully select the right platform, address the specific challenges, and implement best practices to maximize the benefits of low-code development. With the right strategy and tools, banks can leverage low-code development to drive innovation, enhance operational efficiency, and meet the ever-changing demands of their customers.

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Eximee Team