React Native – How Facebook Changed FinTech App Development

React Native – How Facebook Changed FinTech App Development

React Native is a hot topic right now in any branch of the software development industry but it’s not so obvious why it’s so important for FinTech. While there are so many ways to build an app, developers are certain that one is much better than the rest. How come React Native has dominated the market to such an extent? Let’s find out all about it and its influence on the world of FinTech!

React vs React Native

Before we dive into the exciting pool of reasons to choose React Native over other available technologies, let’s clarify some things. React Native is not the same thing as React (sometimes also referred to as ReactJS). The first one, the one we’re focusing on today, is the entire framework and formerly the heart of the latter – which is just a JavaScript library. The difference between them is important and they complement each other perfectly.

How React(s) came to be

In fact, their history is quite fascinating. In 2011 Facebook was not growing faster than before, but it already had an enormous user base. The system behind the app grew to an absolute monster of complexity and further development was becoming more and more troublesome. It was also a time of a rapid evolution of the Facebook Ads system and the monetisation system was being optimised to a large extent. Combined, it all brought chaos and slowed down the work of the developers immensely. Especially, when the problems grew in numbers proportionally to the size of the team.

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The biggest problem, according to Mark Zuckerberg, was focusing too much on HTML. The CEO noticed that switching to native wherever possible would make the app perform much better, but also development less problematic. However, native development on more than one platform could require a significant workforce and coordination between teams. Switching to a framework that allows for parallel development of versions for different platforms was an obvious choice.

Luckily, Jordan Walke, an engineer at Facebook was already working on the answer. In 2011 he used XHP, which is an HTML component library for PHP in order to create FaxJS and improve Facebook’s news feed. FaxJS some time later evolved into what we know today as ReactJS.

React Native was born in similar circumstances and to answer the same problems. The most important one was how to generate UI elements from JavaScript code running natively on a user’s device, instead of relying on HTML5 which was not efficient enough.

The solution was found during an internal hackathon organised in the summer of 2013, where Jordan’s team prototyped a universal mobile app development framework capable of doing what was needed. The results were so promising that the whole team was dedicated to developing what was called React Native. Just three years after publishing as open-source in 2015, React Native was the second biggest project on GitHub, which perfectly illustrates the scale of the success.

From social media to FinTech

But wait a moment, how can technologies created with social media in mind be so important to “serious” FinTech? It’s simple – they came out extremely versatile, light-weight and developer-friendly. It may come as a surprise to some, but FinTech apps vary from tiny ones, created with a bare minimum of functionalities and by small startups, through mobile banking solutions, to giant, corporate financial systems.

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Developing all of them, however, has a lot in common. It needs to be simple, cost-effective, cross-platform, secure and fast. React Native offers it all, and thanks to its popularity, it’s easy to outsource react native development, if needed.

Simple

React Native has a modular and intuitive architecture similar to ReactJS. It makes it easy for developers to start working with it and to jump into work in existing and complex projects. While in the case of some legacy technology stacks, onboarding a new developer may take weeks or even months, React Native projects are well organised by nature. Engineers just need very little time to understand the app’s logic. Thus, teams are flexible and scalable as needed.

Cost-effective and cross-platform

React Native makes all CFOs happy – not only because they save money due to the possibility of having an elastic development team. Savings also come from the ability to reuse large amounts of code, which obviously reduces work hours needed to deliver a cross-platform app to a minimum. How come? Code simply needs to be written only once to work on all popular platforms, including iOS, Android and UWP, but also Windows, macOS or even Oculus VR goggles. It’s much more than mere two-in-one, it’s development reducing costs by a factor of more than two for multi-platform apps. But there is one more thing which makes creating FinTech apps with React Native cheaper and faster: most of the features can be built with ready-made components that are just waiting to be used!

Secure

Just by being an extremely popular open-source project, React Native has thousands of security experts looking for vulnerabilities and fixing them 24/7. Nothing suspicious can hide in such strictly supervised code.

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Fast

There are two reasons React Native apps are so fast, especially on older mobile devices. First of all, the technology is finely tuned to make use of the GPU power to generate UI, instead of relying on just the CPU. While it cannot possibly be as fast as a “real native” app, React Native offers the maximum performance, while being cross-platform, so there is no better choice right now.

Is React Native an obvious choice for FinTech?

There are many frameworks out there that can be used in FinTech, but React Native seems to be connecting all of the dots in the optimal way. It offers what the creators want for effective work, while being able to run smoothly on almost any device a possible user has. There may be alternatives better at some aspects, but none seems to be a master of all. And React Native is the closest to it right now. Will it keep this status in the future? Only time can tell, let’s patiently wait for the next revolution in creating FinTech products!

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