Develop a MoneyLion platform

Financial emergencies can occur unexpectedly, causing a rush to cover bills or fill the gap between paychecks. The resulting stress can feel overwhelming, impacting everything from your daily routine to your mental well-being. Thankfully, cash advance apps like MoneyLion are emerging as lifelines for millions. These innovative solutions provide a crucial safety net, offering a quick and effective way to access small amounts of cash when needed most.

MoneyLion’s success story is a testament to the growing need for such services. With over 7 million users leveraging their cash advance features, budgeting tools, and investment options, MoneyLion is empowering a generation to take control of their finances.

 If you’re a business looking to make a real impact in the FinTech space, developing a cash advance app can provide a vital service to those in need, fostering financial security and peace of mind.

What is the Moneylion App?

MoneyLion is an app that provides users with a safety net through small, interest-free cash advances while also offering budgeting tools, financial insights, and even investment features, all designed to empower users to take control of their finances.

But their impact goes beyond immediate relief. MoneyLion also boasts a high engagement rate, with users averaging over four logins per week, showcasing its utility as a great budgeting and financial planning tool. Apart from that, MoneyLion has also garnered recognition within the FinTech industry, winning awards like the 2021 Benzinga Fintech Awards for Best Mobile App.

What Makes the Moneylion App Special?

MoneyLion goes beyond the typical cash advance app by offering a suite of features that promote financial wellness. Firstly, MoneyLion’s core cash advance feature, called “Instacash,” doesn’t charge interest. This is a great advantage compared to traditional payday loans, which can have exorbitant fees. Secondly, MoneyLion goes beyond just providing immediate cash.

Features like “MoneyLion RoarMoney” offer a debit card with cashback rewards, incentivizing users to save while they spend. Additionally, the “MoneyLion Invest” feature allows users to invest spare change from everyday purchases, fostering a long-term wealth-building strategy. By combining these features into a single app, MoneyLion creates a holistic financial management ecosystem that caters to a variety of user needs.

Key Market Takeaways for Cash Advance Apps

The cash advance app market is experiencing explosive growth, fueled by rising demand for accessible financial tools. Verifiedmarketreports predict significant revenue increases and a remarkable CAGR throughout the period of 2023 to 2030.

Key Market Takeaways for Cash Advance Apps

Source: Verifiedmarketreports

Several factors contribute to this trend. For individuals, cash advance apps offer a convenient and often more affordable alternative to traditional payday loans, providing essential financial safety nets. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that nearly 40% of Americans struggle to afford basic living expenses, highlighting the need for tools that bridge financial gaps. Cash advance apps can be a lifeline for these individuals, offering small, interest-free advances to cover unexpected costs.

Businesses are also recognizing the value of cash advance apps. Fintech giant PayPal recently partnered with Earnin, a leading cash advance app provider, to offer its users instant access to earned wages. This partnership exemplifies the growing integration of cash advance apps into mainstream financial services.

Cost to Build a Cash Advance App like Moneylion

Development StageDescriptionEstimated Cost
1. Research & Planning$5,000 – $20,000
Market ResearchAnalyzing competitor apps, target audience demographics, needs, and regulatory landscape.$2,000 – $10,000
Feature PlanningDefining core functionalities (cash advance, budgeting tools), potential future additions, and user journeys.$1,000 – $5,000
Business Model DesignDetermining revenue streams (subscription fees, interchange fees) and pricing strategy for different features.$2,000 – $5,000
2. Front-End Development$20,000 – $80,000
User Interface (UI) DesignCreating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes for a user-friendly and intuitive interface.$5,000 – $30,000
Mobile App DevelopmentBuilding the app for iOS and/or Android platforms, with native app development typically costing more than cross-platform solutions.$15,000 – $50,000
3. Back-End Development$30,000 – $100,000
Server-side DevelopmentBuilding core functionality, including user authentication, secure data storage, and integrations with financial institutions.$20,000 – $60,000
Security FeaturesImplementing robust security measures like encryption and access controls, and ensuring compliance with relevant security standards.$5,000 – $20,000
API IntegrationsConnecting with banks, credit bureaus, and fraud detection services, with costs varying depending on chosen APIs and data access needs.$5,000 – $20,000+
4. App FeaturesVaries
Cash Advance FunctionalityIntegrating with a payment processor to facilitate cash advances and repayments, including fraud prevention measures and risk assessment tools.$10,000 – $30,000
Budgeting ToolsRanging from basic expense tracking to sophisticated budgeting functionalities with custom categories, analytics, and goal setting.$5,000 – $20,000
Financial InsightsIntegrating with financial data providers and developing algorithms for personalized insights, with costs increasing with customization.$10,000 – $50,000+
Investment FeaturesOffering investment options involves additional development and regulatory compliance costs, integration with brokerages, and portfolio management.$20,000 – $100,000+
5. Testing & Deployment$5,000 – $15,000
Quality Assurance (QA) TestingEnsuring app functionality across different devices and operating systems through rigorous testing to identify bugs and ensure a smooth user experience.$3,000 – $10,000
App Store Submission FeesFees associated with publishing the app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.$200 – $500
Total Estimated Cost$90,200 – $335,500+

What Factors Can Affect the Overall Development Cost?

The above cost breakdown given above is just an estimate, as the actual expense of developing your app can fluctuate depending on your specific needs. Let’s see what they are,

1. App Platform

The initial development platform you choose, whether iOS or Android, can influence costs. While Android boasts a larger user base, developing for both platforms typically adds extra expenses. Many businesses might choose to launch on Android first due to its wider reach, then consider iOS development based on user demographics and market fit.

2. UI/UX Design

A user-friendly and intuitive interface is also very important for retaining users. The quality of the UI/UX design can affect development costs. Apps requiring extensive testing iterations to achieve a seamless user experience will naturally cost more. Investing in a well-designed interface upfront can lead to long-term benefits in terms of user engagement and brand loyalty.

3. App Development Team Size & Expertise

The overall size and expertise of your development team are significant factors that determine the cost. It is more cost-effective in the long run to hire a dedicated team of experienced developers than to work with freelancers. An expert development team with a proven track record in fintech app development can efficiently meet your project goals and deliver the maximum return on investment.

4. App Maintenance & Updates

Regular maintenance is also essential to keep the app functioning smoothly, address bugs, and implement security updates. The costs associated with maintaining and upgrading the app to meet evolving market demands and technological advancements can be substantial. Factoring in these ongoing costs is crucial for sustainable app development.

5. Location of the App Development Agency

The costs of development can vary significantly depending on the location of your chosen development agency. Outsourcing development to regions like Asia or Africa, where hourly rates tend to be lower compared to the US or UK, can be a strategy to manage your overall budget. However, carefully evaluate the agency’s expertise, communication capabilities, and cultural alignment when considering outsourcing.

6. Technology Stack

The underlying technology used to build your app (programming languages, frameworks, and tools) can impact development costs. Advanced technologies like AI, ML, and speech recognition offer exciting functionalities but can increase development costs. Weigh the benefits of these advancements against your budget and prioritize the technology stack that best optimizes development time and cost while achieving your desired functionalities.

7. Features and Functionalities

The complexity and number of features directly affect development costs. A basic cash advance app with limited functionalities will naturally have a lower expense than an advanced app with budgeting tools, financial insights, and investment options. While including more features adds value to your app and attracts users, carefully plan your feature set to optimize development costs and prioritize the most essential functionalities for your target audience.

What Tech Stacks Would be ideal for building a secure and scalable cash advance app?

Getting the right technology stack is crucial for building a secure and scalable cash advance app. Here’s a breakdown of some key considerations:

1. Backend Development

In cash advance apps, backend development handles core functionalities like user authentication, transaction processing, and secure data storage.

Programming Languages

Java or Kotlin are popular choices for robust backend development due to their scalability and security features. These languages are well-suited for handling complex financial transactions and data processing.


Spring Boot (Java) or Ktor (Kotlin) offer efficient backend development frameworks. They provide pre-built modules for tasks like security, database interaction, API creation, streamlining development, and ensuring code quality.


SQL databases like PostgreSQL or MySQL offer a solid foundation for storing user data and financial information. These established databases are secure and can handle the high volume of transactions typical in cash advance apps. For real-time data analytics, NoSQL databases like MongoDB can be integrated.

2. Frontend Development

Next comes the front-end part, which deals with all the elements the user will see while using the app,

Programming Languages

Swift (iOS) and Kotlin (Android) are the native languages for each platform, ensuring optimal performance and user experience. For cross-platform development, frameworks like React Native or Flutter can be considered. These tools allow businesses to write code just once and deploy it on both iOS and Android, potentially saving time and resources.

User Interface (UI) Frameworks

Frameworks like Material Design (Android) or Apple’s SwiftUI (iOS) provide pre-built UI components and design patterns. These tools streamline the development process, promote a consistent user experience across platforms, and ensure a modern, user-friendly interface.

3. Security Measures

Integration with secure payment gateways like Stripe or Braintree is essential for handling financial transactions safely. These services offer robust fraud prevention tools and comply with industry security standards.

Data encryption, both at rest and in transit, is crucial for protecting sensitive user information. Implementing strong authentication protocols and authorization mechanisms further bolsters security.

Would it be Beneficial to Allow Some App Functionalities to Operate Offline?

Keeping certain functionalities to operate offline in a cash advance app can be highly beneficial for user convenience. 

1. Offline Budgeting Tools

Core budgeting functionalities like expense tracking, category allocation, and basic income/expense visualization can be made available offline. The app can store transaction data locally on the user’s device. When the device regains internet connectivity, the app can synchronize this data with the server, ensuring all information is up-to-date.

2. Limited Transaction History

Allowing users to view a limited transaction history offline provides them with some level of access to their financial activity even without an internet connection. This feature can be limited to a specific timeframe (e.g., past week or month) to avoid storing excessive data on the device.

3. Basic Financial Insights

The app can pre-calculate and display basic financial insights like remaining budget or upcoming bill due dates. These calculations can be based on past transactions stored locally and wouldn’t require real-time data access

How Do Cash Advance Apps Like MoneyLion Generate Revenue?

Cash advance apps like MoneyLion are changing the financial landscape, but how do they make money? Surprisingly, a 2023 study revealed that over 60% of cash advance app revenue comes from fees associated with premium features and subscriptions, not just interest on loans. 

While this can be the primary revenue stream, let’s also explore some other key strategies:

1. Interest and Fees

A core revenue stream for cash advance apps comes from the interest charged on advanced funds. Cash advances typically offer a more competitive alternative to traditional payday loans with exorbitant interest rates. However, cash advance apps may also levy fees for services like origination, late payments, or account maintenance.

2. Subscription Models

Some cash advance apps offer a tiered subscription model. By paying a monthly or annual fee, app users can unlock premium features like expedited loan processing, increased borrowing limits, or access to exclusive financial resources and educational tools. This strategy provides a recurring revenue stream for businesses.

3. In-App Advertising

Carefully integrated in-app advertising can be another revenue source. By displaying targeted ads based on users’ financial interests and needs, businesses can generate income without significantly disrupting the user experience.

4. Affiliate Partnerships

Cash advance apps can partner with financial institutions or other businesses to expand their offerings and diversify revenue streams. For example, an app might recommend credit cards or budgeting tools from partnered companies and earn a commission if users sign up for those services through the app.

5. Cross-Selling Financial Products

The user base of a cash advance app represents a valuable audience for other financial products. Businesses can leverage the app to promote and sell additional services like savings accounts, credit cards, or insurance policies, earning commissions on each sale.

6. Data Analysis and Insights

The anonymized and aggregated data collected through user interactions within the app holds value for credit bureaus and financial institutions. Cash advance apps can generate revenue by selling these insights to help other businesses improve their credit risk assessment models and gain valuable market data.

7. Late Payment Fees

While not ideal, late payment fees can incentivize timely repayments and generate additional income for the business. However, it’s crucial to implement these fees responsibly and transparently to avoid harming user trust.

8. Referral Programs

Encouraging user acquisition through referral programs can be a cost-effective strategy. Offering discounts or rewards to users who refer friends and family incentivizes app growth and monetization as new users sign up and potentially utilize cash advances, which benefits the business.

9. Premium Data Insights

For businesses and researchers willing to pay, cash advance apps can offer more in-depth, anonymized data insights on user behavior and financial transactions. This premium data can be valuable for understanding market trends, identifying financial needs, and making informed business decisions.


How to Develop a Cash Advance App like MoneyLion?

Building a cash advance app like MoneyLion from scratch requires a well-defined development process. Here’s a breakdown of the key stages involved:

1. Market Research and Planning

First, start by conducting thorough market research to understand your target audience, their needs, and existing competitor offerings. Next, successful cash advance applications will be analyzed to figure out the best practices and potential gaps in the market. This initial planning phase forms the basis for a competitive and user-centric application.

2. Feature Definition and Prioritization

Clearly define the features your app will offer. Start with core functionalities like user registration, loan application processing, secure payments, and transaction history. Give priority to features based on user needs and business goals. Consider including budgeting tools, financial insights, or educational resources to differentiate your app and promote financial wellness.

3. Technology Stack Selection

Choose a secure and scalable technology stack that aligns with your app’s functionalities and budget. The chosen languages, frameworks, and databases should be well-suited for financial transactions, data security, and future growth.

4. App Design and Development

This stage involves designing a user-friendly and intuitive interface for both the mobile app and potentially a web dashboard (for account management). Here, prioritize a clear and simple layout that facilitates better navigation and a seamless user experience. Once the design is finalized, development begins, building the app’s functionalities based on the chosen tech stack.

5. Security Implementation

Security is paramount. Integrate robust security measures like data encryption, secure login protocols, and multi-factor authentication. Utilize reputable payment gateways that comply with industry security standards. Regular security audits and penetration testing are crucial to identify and address vulnerabilities.

6. Testing and Refinement

Rigorous testing is essential. Test the app’s functionalities across different devices and operating systems to ensure smooth performance and identify any bugs. Gather user feedback during beta testing to refine the app and address any usability issues before launch.

7. Deployment and Launch

Once testing is complete, it’s time to launch your app on the chosen app stores (iOS App Store and Google Play Store). Create a unique marketing strategy to generate awareness and attract users. Continuously monitor app performance, user feedback, and market trends to inform future updates and improvements.

Top 5 Cash Advance Apps Like Moneylion App in the USA

Here’s a look at the top five cash advance apps alongside MoneyLion, popular in the USA,

1. Dave – Banking & Cash Advance


Platforms Available: Android, iOS

Download: Over 10 million downloads

Ratings: 4.3 stars on Google Play Store, 4.7 stars on Apple App Store

Dave offers mobile banking services along with cash advances (called “Floats”). The app focuses on avoiding fees whenever possible, relying on optional tips and subscriptions for revenue. Dave boasts a strong user base and positive ratings, making it a solid competitor in the cash advance app space.

Dave recently surpassed 10 million downloads and boasts a growth rate exceeding 700% year-over-year. The company secured a $100 million Series D funding round in 2021, indicating investor confidence in its innovative approach to mobile banking and financial wellness.

2. Brigit: Borrow & Build Credit


Platforms Available: Android, iOS

Download: Over 5 million downloads

Ratings: 4.6 stars on Google Play Store, 4.8 stars on Apple App Store

Brigit positions itself as a tool to “bridge” the gap between paychecks. The app offers small cash advances without interest but may charge a membership fee for access to premium features like budgeting tools and credit builder loans. Brigit’s focus on credit building can be particularly appealing to users looking to improve their financial standing.

Brigit recently partnered with Mastercard to offer a debit card with budgeting and rewards features, further expanding their financial management services. 

3. Earnin: Make Every Day Payday


Platforms Available: Android, iOS

Download: Over 10 million downloads

Ratings: 4.0 stars on Google Play Store, 4.7 stars on Apple App Store

Earnin allows app users to access a portion of their wages before payday. This unique approach avoids the concept of a loan altogether. Earnin primarily relies on optional tips for revenue. With a large user base and good reviews, Earnin is a strong contender in the cash advance app market.

Earnin recently launched “Earnin Health,” a feature that allows users to access up to $100 to cover unexpected medical bills. 

4. Chime: Online Banking with Credit Builder


Platforms Available: Android, iOS

Download: Over 10 million downloads

Ratings: 4.2 stars on Google Play Store, 4.7 stars on Apple App Store

While not strictly a cash advance app, Chime offers mobile banking features with a unique early access option for direct deposits. This allows people to access a portion of their paycheck before the official payday. Chime also offers tools for credit building and budgeting, making it a comprehensive financial management platform.

Chime boasts over 10 million users and processes over $24 billion in monthly transactions, solidifying its position as a major player in the mobile banking space. Partnering with Visa and offering early access to direct deposits has fueled Chime’s impressive growth.

5. Klover: Instant Cash Advance


Platforms Available: Android

Download: Over 1 million downloads

Ratings: 4.4 stars on Google Play Store

Klover focuses specifically on providing instant cash advances. The app offers a transparent fee structure and emphasizes responsible borrowing practices. While Klover’s user base is smaller compared to some competitors on this list, it remains a viable option for users seeking quick access to cash.

The app recently introduced a loyalty program rewarding users for on-time repayments and responsible financial behavior, demonstrating their commitment to fostering healthy financial habits.


Cash advance apps are more than just a quick fix; they’re stepping stones to financial empowerment. By offering budgeting tools, financial insights, and even investment options, these apps can equip you with the knowledge and resources to take control of your finances and build a brighter future.

Developing a cash advance app isn’t just about profit; it’s about creating a positive impact. Businesses have the opportunity to become champions for financial well-being, offering a helping hand to those struggling to make ends meet. By prioritizing user needs and creating a user-centric approach, businesses can not only build a loyal customer base but also contribute to a more financially secure future for millions. Cash advance apps have the potential to revolutionize the financial landscape, fostering financial inclusion and empowering individuals to achieve their financial goals. The time to act is now – will your business be part of the solution?

Want to Develop A  Cash Advance App ? 

Idea Usher can help you turn your vision into reality. With over 500,000 hours of coding experience in the FinTech field, our team of experts can design and develop a user-friendly cash advance app that prioritizes financial wellness alongside access to funds, just like MoneyLion. Let’s discuss how we can help you make a better impact on the financial lives of your users.

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Q1: How do cash advance apps make money?

A1: Cash advance apps typically generate revenue through a combination of fees and premium services. While they might not charge interest, they may impose a flat fee or a percentage of the advanced amount for using the service. Additionally, some apps offer premium subscriptions with features like budgeting tools, faster cash advances, or access to larger amounts, providing another income stream.

Q2: How to create a money lending app?

A2: Developing a money lending app requires a multi-pronged approach. First, define your loan criteria and target audience. Next, prioritize robust security measures and compliance with financial regulations. The app should handle borrower verification, loan application processing, and secure disbursement of funds. Integrate with payment gateways for automated repayments and consider features like progress tracking and communication tools. Remember, building trust and transparency are key to a successful money-lending app.

Q3: How to create a loan app for free?

A3: Building a fully functional loan app for free is unrealistic due to development costs, security needs, and financial regulations. However, you can explore open-source loan management software or low-code platforms that offer basic functionalities. These options require some technical expertise and might not cater to complex loan structures. Remember, financial services involve sensitive data, so security and compliance are paramount. It’s advisable to consult financial professionals before attempting to launch a loan app.

Q4: How do you create a loan system?

A4: Crafting a loan system involves several crucial steps. First, define loan types (e.g., personal, mortgage) and eligibility criteria. Develop a robust credit assessment process to evaluate borrower risk. Ensure secure data storage and implement loan origination features for application processing and approval. The system should also handle loan disbursement and automated repayment scheduling and integrate with payment gateways. Finally, modules for delinquency management and customer communication for a comprehensive loan system should be considered.

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