Mobile: One-Size-Fits-All vs. Niche Banking Apps

us bank itunes iphone apps

US Bank’s iOS app lineup 

 

Early on in the smartphone era there was a debate as to whether native apps or the mobile web would carry the day. As an early iPhone user, I was solidly in the native apps camp. Some day there will be a better interface, but until then it’s an app world (though not every headline writer agrees). And now the question for financial institutions is not whether you need a native app, it’s how many do you need?

Until recently, most financial institutions hoped to have a one-size-fits-all mobile app, just like on the desktop. That’s the option that lowers development costs, simplifies tech support, and makes digital banking easier to manage. But since most financial institutions serve many customer segments, bundling too many features into one UI really gums up the overall experience.

So we are seeing more and more financial companies developing multiple native apps to support distinct business groups, customer segments, and even charitable activities. The most prolific? US Bancorp with 43 iOS apps alone, 28 of which are white-labeled for its affinity credit-card customers (see screenshot above).

Delving deeper, let’s look at the 25 most-popular free finance apps in the U.S. Apple App Store (data is from mid-March, when I started this post). The 13 financial institutions in that group have a combined 123 apps, for an average of nearly 10 per bank. However, excluding US Bank’s 28 white-label apps, the total is 93, or 7.2 per FI.

Bottom line: You may not need 7 or 8 apps, but it’s clear that multiple apps optimized for individual use have an advantage in usability and focus (ROI is a much more difficult question of course). In addition to a core mobile-banking app, most mid-size and larger FIs should evaluate dedicated apps for the following segments:

  • Youth
  • Small businesses
  • Mobile wallet/cards (credit/debit/prepaid)
  • Saving/budgeting/personal finance
  • Home buyers/mortgage/home equity
  • Car buying/auto loans
  • College financing/student loans
  • Retirement/wealth management/investing
  • Optional: Insurance, HSA, any other stand-alone business line

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Table: Number of iOS apps per financial services provider

Banks & Card Issuers: Total of 123 apps across 13 financial institutions

  • US Bank: 43 (14 branded, 28 white-labeled affinity partners, 1 nonprofit)
  • PNC Bank: 14 (all branded)
  • Chase: 11 (6 Chase branded, 5 JPMorgan branded)
  • American Express: 10 (8 branded, Plenti, Expert Care)
  • Citibank: 10 (all branded)
  • Bank of America: 9 (4 BofA branded, 5 Merrill Lynch branded)
  • Capital One: 8 (7 branded, 1 CreditWise)
  • Wells Fargo: 5 (all branded)
  • TD Bank: 3 (all branded)
  • Discover: 3 (1 branded, 2 Diners Club)
  • Navy FCU: 2 (all branded)
  • BB&T: 2 (all branded)
  • USAA: 2 (1 branded, Savings Coach)

Payments: 15 apps across 4 companies

  • PayPal: 9 (7 branded, Venmo, Xoom)
  • Square: 4 (all branded)
  • Western Union: 1
  • Google Wallet: 1

Insurance: 2 apps from 2 companies

  • Progressive: 1
  • Geico: 1

Personal finance/investing: 18 apps across 6 companies

  • Intuit: 13 (12 branded, Mint)
  • Credit Karma: 1
  • Digit: 1
  • Acorns: 1
  • Prosper: 1
  • Robinhood: 1

65 Most Popular iPhone Apps from U.S. Banks and Other Financial Services Companies

image This is a followup to last week’s 30 most popular iPad apps. Unlike the iPad, most major financial institutions have had an iPhone app for a year or longer. So the most-popular list reads pretty much like a who’s who of U.S. banking.

Observations:

  • Only 16 (25%) of the top-65 also have iPad apps
  • 36 (55%) apps are from banks representing 29 unique banks (i.e., 7 apps are second or third ones from the same bank)
  • 15 apps (23%) are from credit unions
  • Banks/card issuers command 6 of the top 10 spots (7 if you count PayPal)
  • The highest credit union is #23, Navy Federal Credit Union; Suncoast Schools FCU is second highest at #35

Methodology: Using an iPhone in the late afternoon today, I accessed the Free apps in the Finance category of the Apple App Store and sorted by “Most Popular.” I included apps only from U.S. financial institutions or from third parties that tap directly into financial institution data using account aggregation (e.g., from Yodlee, CashEdge, etc.). Pure content apps, like ING Direct’s ATM Finder, were not included even if from a financial institution.

Note: The first column below is the rank among all financial institutions (as defined above). The second column in the app’s rank within the entire App Store “finance” category. And the third column is the rank of that company’s iPad app, if they have one.

Table: 65 Most-Popular U.S. Banking Apps

FI Rank Finance Rank iPad Rank Company
1 1 Bank of America
2 2 4 Chase bank
3 3 Wells Fargo
4 4 PayPal
5 5 Capital One
6 6 1, 5 Pageonce
7 9 Mint.com
8 10 American Express
9 12 2 Square
10 14 8 USAA
11 15 Citibank
12 17 Regions Bank
13 18 Discover
14 19 TD Bank
15 20 PNC Bank
16 21 9 Fidelity Investments
17 23 6 E*Trade
18 24 ING Direct
19 25 SunTrust
20 26 US Bank
21 27 Schwab
22 30 PNC Virtual Wallet
23 32 Navy Federal Credit Union
24 35 7 TD Ameritrade
25 43 Barclaycard
26 44 22 BB&T
27 47 ShareBuilder (ING Direct)
28 48 Citizens Bank (RBS)
29 52 Vanguard
30 58 JP Morgan
31 66 M&T Bank
32 67 24 BBVA Compass
33 70 11 Expensify
34 78 15 Merrill Lynch, My Merrill
35 82 Suncoast Schools FCU
36 89 TCF Bank
37 93 Arvest Bank
38 103 SchoolsFirst FCU
39 105 14 TDECU
40 108 Charter One (RBS)
41 109 10 thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)
42 110 RBFCU
43 113 Wings Financial Credit Union
44 121 20 Merrill Lynch, Edge
45 122 Union Bank
46 124 Safe Credit Union
47 125 Service Credit Union
48 140 Comerica Bank
49 141 BECU
50 143 Zecco
51 151 DCU
52 158 NetSpend
53 160 Tyndall FCU
54 161 Golden 1
55 162 America First Credit Union
56 174 12 Mercedes-Benz Financial
57 178 Woodforest National Bank
58 179 TradeKing
59 182 M&I Bank
60 189 Wells Fargo, CEO
61 190 First Tennessee Bank
62 195 16 Bank of Oklahoma
63 196 SFEFCU
64 201 IBC Bank
65 205   VyStar Credit Union

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Note: For more info on mobile banking, see our previous Online Banking Reports.

Southern Bancorp Launches "Shake and Bank" iPhone App Aimed at Youth

image It’s been more than six months since we last featured a new mobile app from a financial institution (see Arvest Bank’s financial calculators). It’s not because of lack of activity, or importance. In that time, more than 1,000 financial institution apps have been introduced and the market has really heated up.

But we focus on what’s new and different. And for the most part, the class of 2010 and 2011 have been “me-too” entries. Which is exactly as it should be. Every mid-sized and larger bank and credit union needs at least one app in the iTunes store, so the last 18 months have been about gaining competitive parity. 

But things will start to get more interesting again as financial institutions:

Southern Bancorp’s new mobile app, Shake and Bank, ticks all four boxes. It’s an iPhone/iPod Touch app designed to give kids (or any account holder) a quick look at the balance in their account. As you can see below, Shake and Bank is pretty much self-explanatory:

1. Open app (note 1)

2. Shake iPhone

3. See balance

The app requires a setup code to launch. According to the iTunes entry, the code can be obtained through the bank’s website or at a branch. But as of today, I see no mention of Shake and Bank, or mobile banking for that matter, at their website.

Bottom line: I’m a sucker for pigs, so obviously I like it. But more importantly, Southern Bancorp makes it easy to monitor account balances with a simple kid-friendly approach. And parents will appreciate the help reinforcing the savings habit (note 1).

Southern Bancorp has $1.1 billion in assets and 40 branches in Arkansas and Mississippi.
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Southern Bancorp’s iPhone app targeted towards kids (link, 25 April 2011)

Southern Bancorp's iPhone mobile banking app targeted towards kids      image 

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Notes:
1. Since I couldn’t test the app without an account, I assume there is no subsequent login requirement once you’ve entered the setup code. And more importantly, I hope that it oinks when shaken. 
2. For more info on mobile banking, see our previous Online Banking Reports.

30 Most Popular iPad Apps from U.S. Banks and Other Financial Services Companies

image Apple tweaked its propriety algorithm that ranks apps in terms of popularity (Cnet article). Evidently the changes had an impact on overall rankings, but little or no effect on intra-category ranks.

That holds true with my casual observations within the finance category. Regardless, it seemed like a good time to visit the App Store and document which financial iPad apps are currently most popular (see Table below).

Note: The first column below is the rank among all financial institutions (as defined below). The second column in the app’s rank within the entire App Store “finance” category.

Observations:

  • The highest rated bank is Chase at number 9 in the finance category
  • There are only two banks (Chase & USAA) in the top 20
  • There are only seven consumer banks in the top 200 (Chase, USAA, Bank of Oklahoma, Trustmark, BB&T, BBVA, Bank of Texas)
  • There are more credit unions (8) than banks (7) in top 200 in the finance category
  • Still missing some huge banking names (Amex, BofA, Capital One, Citi, Discover, Mint, PayPal, US Bank)

My methodology: Using an iPad and iPhone, I accessed the finance category of the App Store and sorted by “Most Popular.” I am including only apps from any U.S. financial institution or from third parties that tap directly into financial institution data using account aggregation (e.g., from Yodlee, CashEdge, etc.). Pure content apps, like Schwab’s On Investing magazine, were not included even if from a financial institution.

FI Rank Finance Rank Company App Name
(+ company)
1 1 Pageonce Money & Bills (free)
2 2 Square  
3 3 Maximo Cavazzani (works with
TD Ameritrade)
iStockManager
4 9 Chase Bank Mobile
5 10 Pageonce Pro – Money & Bills
6 11 E*Trade Mobile Pro
7 15 TD Ameritrade Mobile
8 20 USAA  
9 21 Fidelity Investments  
10 22 Thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)  
11 29 Expensify Expense Reports
12 49 Mercedes-Benz Financial My MBFS
13 50 Wescom Central Credit Union Mobile
14 59 TDECU Mobile
15 67 BofAML (BofA Merrill Lynch) MyMerrill
16 68 Bank of Oklahoma Mobile
17 74 MACU (Mountain America) Mobile Banking
18 88 Trustmark National Bank  
19 96 thinkMoney (TD Ameritrade)  
20 97 BofAML (BofA Merrill Lynch) Merrill Edge
21 98 JP Morgan Mobile
22 107 BB&T Banking
23 114 thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade) VEO Mobile
24 131 BBVA Compass Mobile Banking
25 169 NASA FCU Mobile Banking
26 170 DATCU Credit Union Mobile Banking
27 182 SCU (Scott Credit Union) Mobile Banking
28 188 Bank of Texas Mobile Banking
29 193 GWCU (Goldenwest Credit Union) Mobile Banking
30 194 American Eagle FCU Mobile Banking

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Note: For more info on mobile banking, see our previous Online Banking Reports.

Arvest Bank Adds Suite of Calculators and Other Non-Transactional Services to iPhone App

image Like American Express, Arvest Bank is one of the dozen or so U.S. financial institutions with multiple apps in the Apple iTunes App Store (note 1). The bank has one app for account access and another which can be used only to find its branches and ATMs (app link).

Arvest iphone app v2.0

However, the non-transactional app, which debuted last November, is undergoing a major facelift, with version 2.0 due in the store shortly. The bank offered a sneak peek on its blog this week (see inset).

The update contains four new functions:

  • Calculators: The app now includes access to a suite of 40 financial calculators (e.g., loan payment calculator) saving customers the time and hassle of searching for similar tools within the App Store.
  • Customer Connect will use the user’s GPS location to provide location-sensitive customer service contacts, a great way for a financial institution to demonstrate their commitment to local service. 
  • Current Rates are easily accessible from a single button on the main page.
  • Arvest News houses its blog feed.

Bottom line: While these functions have been common on websites for a decade, as far as I know, this is the first app from a bank or credit union that includes all these features. Nice work.

Note:
1. In a search at AppFinder.com, there are currently 583 iPhone apps in the finance category with “bank” in their name or description. Another 483 contain “credit union” for a total of 1,066 banking apps. Not all of these are from financial institutions, but an estimated 70% to 80% FI apps.

With the Launch of Foursquare-powered Social Currency, American Express Now Has 7 iPhone Apps

In the spring, we predicted that 10 to 15 years from now there would be tens of thousands of iPhone apps from financial institutions alone (note 1). Our reasoning: Many (most?) larger FIs would have more than one app, perhaps dozens. At that time, nine financial institutions (note 2) were tied for most-prolific app deployers, each with two iPhone apps.

imageToday, I found out that American Express has blown that record away. With the release this week of a youth-oriented Foursqure-powered app, Social Currency (app link), the card issuer now has seven apps available for the iPhone alone (but still none for the iPad).

AmEx iPhone lineup
Two are from American Express Publishing (making the comparison to other financial institutions a little unfair):

  • Best New Chefs
  • Eat and Drink

Two are published by other companies:

And finally, three more from core card-issuers:

  • American Express used to access most AmEx cards
  • OPEN Forum for small business clients
  • mobileXtend that can only be used by employees of corporate clients who have licensed this service option 

American Express has seven apps available for the iPhone
Note: Shown here in search via iPad (22 Sep 2010)

American Express has seven apps available for the iPhone

Notes:
1. See Online Banking Report: The Case for Mobile Banking (published March 2010)
2. See Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking and Finance Apps (published April 2010)

First Finance Apps for Apple iPad Unveiled

image Apple loaded iPad apps into the main iTunes store today (see screenshot below). Search is limited and apps by category are not yet available, but you now can browse the iTunes store for iPad-optimized apps.

I looked at all 2,400 and spotted three financial titles — a credit card merchant terminal, a stock-info tracker (see below), and E*Trade’s Mobile Pro — plus a few calculators

I was disappointed that no banks or credit unions were represented. But the iPad launch is still 36 hours away, so I may still win my bet that Bank of America will be there on the morning of April 3.  

Apple iTunes App Store now features iPad apps (1 April, 5 PM Pacific)

image

E*Trade Mobile Pro for iPad (iTunes link)

image 

Credit Card Terminal for iPad from Inner Fence
(for Authorize.net users; iTunes link)

image

MarketScan by Michael Foster (iTunes link)

image 

Note: For more coverage of mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.