Six Advantages of Developing Cross-Platform HTML5-based Financial Apps: Part 1

With the advent of smartphones and tablets, there has been a marked change in how people connect to the Internet. Consumers can now connect to the Internet, anytime, anywhere. As a consequence, many new mobile apps are being developed, while a number of traditional desktop/laptop-based apps are gradually getting ported to mobile. Financial service organizations have been measured in their transition to mobile apps. (To learn more about the evolution of mobile financial apps read our recent post “The 3 Phase Evolution of Buy-side Mobile Apps). There are multiple advantages, which HTML5-based financial apps offer. In this blog post, I explore the top 6 advantages that HTML5 offers.

Advantage #1: One version of the financial app caters to clients across multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows etc).

HTML5 is a web-based, cross-platform specification. A de facto requirement for any modern mobile operating system is the inclusion of a HTML5-compliant web browser. All the leading mobile platforms use HTML5 as their base. This offers two distinct advantages:

  1. If financial apps are developed on HTML5, there’s no need to develop individual versions for the various platforms. This saves resources, both in terms of time and money.
  2. As HTML5 apps are web-based, they can be accessed via a mobile device, laptop or desktop. This ensures that clients are offered the same interface across all devices.

Advantage #2: HTML5-based financial apps provide 24-7 reliability.
Financial apps need 24-7 reliability.

There should never be a point in time, when a user can’t access the app.

The advantage HTML5-based financial apps provide in this regard is two-fold.

  1. There is one centralized database, and if a problem arises, it can be tracked and resolved.
  2. Also from a reliability point of view, HTML5-based financial apps lets you take care of the support yourself and not rely on the platform provider.

Advantage #3: HTML5-based financial apps provide a strong visual interface.

The new HTML5 specifications have a very strong charting interface. The best way to describe data in financial apps is by means of charts. HTML5 facilitates this need. The primary reason Internet usage has grown exponentially on smart phones and tablets, is the user experience these devices offer.

Charts and graphs are far more intuitive when viewed on mobile devices. HTML5-based financial apps offers features such as the ability to zoom in and out of charts or select particular data points by touching the screen, which is unique to mobile devices.

Advantage #4: HTML5 specifications let you employ an agile development process.

One of the primary problems with native apps is the approval process that platform providers have in place. The process can be tedious and time-consuming. The same issue arises when new features need to be added to financial apps. This kills any differentiation advantage you might get from being first-to-market.

HTML5 apps let you subvert both issues, as HTML5 apps are web-based and therefore require no approval.

Advantage #5: HTML5 specifications provide the functionality a financial app requires.

Native apps offer much more control over the device, but the difference is access to additional device features such as camera and additional memory. These features are nice to have, but enterprise apps, especially financial ones, generally don’t require access to these features.
Primary financial app use cases are requirements like updating price quotes, charting and pulling research and news. These can be handled efficiently in HTML5-based financial apps.

Advantage #6: HTML5-based financial apps are secure.

HTML5 is just a specification for rendering pages on the web. Thus it offers the same level of security, as any internet based application would. Apps that are standards compliant HTML5 applications benefit from the full browser security.

The major causes of concern in HTML5-based financial apps arise from using features such as cross-document messaging and clickjacking. Such features don’t add to the usability or power of financial apps and thus security is not a concern in using HTML5 for financial apps.

Now that I have outlined why HTML5 is an excellent platform for developing financial apps, in my next post I will provide step-by-step instructions on how we developed a HTML5-based financial app (P&L Tool) with our friends at OpenFin. This app will demonstrate the ease and speed with which a powerful HTML5-based financial app can be developed.