Citibank Launches Dedicated iPhone Application

image Earlier today, Citibank launched a dedicated iPhone app (iTunes link) powered by mFoundry. Previously, certain Citi cardholders could use the Firethorn iPhone app, but there was no App Store listing under the Citi brand.

The app, which is free to download, is currently number 10 in the App Store Finance (free) category. It will likely rise to the top, at least briefly, as Citi customers download the app.

The app is featured on the Citi homepage today (see first screenshot below) and is front and center on the Citi Mobile landing page (second screenshot below). The bank has also posted a nine-screen demo of the app here (see inset).

Anyone that’s ever used a mobile website will appreciate the Citi login screen (see inset below). A jumbo-sized numerical keypad is included below the signin area to make typing the PIN easier on the small screen. image

The Citi application does the usual four functions:

  • check balances
  • transfer funds
  • pay bills
  • find Citi branches and ATMs

The bank wisely informs users that their iPhone access can be deactivated immediately in the event of a lost or stolen phone by calling its toll-free number.

With this launch, four of the 10 largest U.S. consumer banks have a dedicated presence in the Apple App Store: Bank of America, Chase, and PNC Bank.

Citibank homepage features the iPhone app (2 March 2009)

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Left: Landing page for Citi Mobile (link, 2 March 2009)

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The Citibank application page in the iTunes App Store (link, 2 March 2009)

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Note:
1. See our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking for more information on the market. 

PNC Bank Launches iPhone Mobile Banking in Apple App Store

image You’d think that seven months after Apple launched the App Store for the iPhone, it would no longer be news when a U.S. bank adds an application to the store.

It’s not like a cost-prohibitive slotting fee is involved. Developers pay Apple exactly zero dollars to be listed in the store (note 1). Apple’s revenue is from the 30% share of any fees charged for an app. All the bank apps are free, so that’s not an issue.

But it is news since the addition of PNC Bank two weeks age (app here) brings the grand total of bank-specific apps to four, five if you count PayPal. Even if you include the several dozen banks supported by Firethorn’s multi-bank app, there are still no more than 40 banks supported (note 2). And there’s not a single credit union, yet. 

Here are the five App Store participants in order of their appearance:

Wells Fargo has an iPhone app, but it’s not yet shown up in the official App Store.

PNC mobile banking app
PNC’s entry is a full-featured app powered by mFoundry. Along with balance and transaction activity, it includes bill pay, funds transfer, and an ATM finder with location-based capabilities. Users must enable mobile banking from within online banking in order to use the app.

The app has risen from number 17 in the Finance category a week ago to 13 today (note 3). However, the app has not yet made it to the PNC website (note 4).

PNC iPhone App screenshots (11 Feb 2009)

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Notes:
1. The app does need to be approved by Apple, a process that can take weeks or longer.
2. Users can also track thousands of financial institutions through Mint or PageOnce.
3. Bank of America is #1, Chase is #4, PayPal is #5, Mint is #6, Firethorn is #9.
4. A PNC.com site search for “iphone” yielded just one result, an iphone listed in a mobile banking compatibility table. (Off topic: Note to PNC Bank, your site search doesn’t function in Firefox 3.0).
5. For more information on the market, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking and the latest forecast in last month’s Online Banking Report Online & Mobile Forecast.

Bank of America Knocks Mint Off Top of iPhone App Store Finance Category

image Bank of America, which has been at or near the top of the Finance category (free apps) in the iPhone App Store since its July 11 launch, was back at the top today (12:45 PM Pacific). Mint, which has been number one since its Dec. 22 launch, moved to number two.

Contributing to the rise in the App Store standing is BofA’s purchase of a feature spot in the iTunes store (see screenshot below). The release of a new version Dec. 28, is also helping the download count. 

The BofA application now leverages the location-based capabilities of the iPhone, automatically showing nearby ATMs without inputting a Zip code (see video below, posted in the BofA mobile media center here).


iTunes App Store main page
(20 Jan. 2009)

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Note: For more info on the market, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking.

Chase Bank, Mint Top the Charts with New iPhone Apps

imageimage No one knows for sure how Apple compiles the list of its top-selling iPhone apps, but it’s related to how many are sold during the past few hours. I’ve seen speculation that the measurement period is 2 hours (see note 1).

But there is no doubt about the benefits of rising to the top. The winner receives prime exposure in the iTunes Store and on the iPhone itself (see screenshots below).

I’ve checked the Finance category rankings dozens of times since the store opened in July, and the top app had always been Bloomberg with Bank of America usually the runnerup.

But Friday, a new top seller emerged in the Free list in the Finance category (note 2), Chase Mobile  while Bloomberg and BofA were each knocked down a spot to numbers 2 and 3. The Chase app was released just one week ago (12 Dec). But by Saturday morning (20 Dec), Chase had already been replaced at the top by online personal finance startup Mint, which released its iPhone app Monday (15 Dec), but it didn’t show up in the iTunes store until 1 AM Friday.  Mint stayed at the top all weekend and is still number one now (10 AM Pacific, 22 Dec).

imageIn the screenshot below and right, you can see the free publicity derived from holding the top spot. Also, note that you should put your name into the application. Bank of America, ranked number 3, neglected to include its name in the title, so it loses some branding value. Although, they would have to use BofA to fit into the space.  

Chase App (link to iphone App)
The Chase app itself is attractive and is similar to Bank of America’s with a login button to the website and an ATM/branch-finder utility. As of this evening, 64 reviews have been posted with an average 3.5-star rating out of five, slightly better than the 3-star rating of Bank of America’s iPhone app with similar features.

Mint App (link to iPhone app)
As expected from a company that is carefully using design to help distinguish it from the pack, Mint’s new app is great looking. Across all aggregated accounts, the mobile app shows account balances, transactions, and progress towards budget goals. A nifty alerts icon on the bottom provides a convenient way for users to keep tabs on important info on the go.

Another difference from most banking apps: Mint lets users choose whether they want password protection enabled after their initial login. If you choose to log out, then the app erases all data in memory, and you must log back in next time. If you choose not to log out, then your data remains visible until the next visit with no login required (note 4). This is a great convenience, but something that may not be allowed at regulated financial institutions.

Some users have reported trouble with the app on older phones. On my first-generation iPhone running version 2.1 software, the Mint app wouldn’t download. But once I upgraded the iPhone software to version 2.2, it downloaded flawlessly and all functions worked perfectly. In Mint’s forum, some users were reporting problems with the Budget feature, but it seems to work fine for me (forum thread) (note 3).

Top Apps in the finance category of iTunes’ App Store
(7 PM Pacific, 19 Dec 2008) 

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 Top free finance apps list displayed on iPhone:
          at 7 PM Pacific, Fri. Dec. 19                               at  2 PM Pacific, Sat. Dec. 20  image        image

Chase Mobile iPhone app                    Mint iPhone app main screen
main screen
(19 Dec 2009)                          (19 Dec 2009)

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Notes:
1. That 2-hour window could be about right. When I made this screenshot, the new Mint app was at number 10; two hours later (9 PM) it had risen to number 5 (see screenshot above). By 9 AM Saturday morning (20 Dec) it had risen to number 1.

2. The App Store divides the top apps into two categories, free and paid. The top 20 free apps are listed on the right side and the top 20 paid apps are listed on the left. The apps in the middle are listed by newest first.

3. These operating system incompatibilities, a real problem in pre-1995 online banking services, had largely been left behind when banks embraced the Web in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately, mobile banking will add to your tech-support costs. 

4. Mint also reminds users that they can choose to lock their entire iPhone for extra security.

5. For more info on the market, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking

Bank of America Sponsoring Popular iPhone Tip Calculator CheckPlease

image Like much of the Internet, many free iPhone apps have embedded advertising as their revenue model. The most popular tip calculator, and third-most-popular app in the finance category, CheckPlease, added advertising across the top of its calculator in its version 3.3 release (Nov. 12).

The current sponsor? Bank of America mobile banking, which has the second-most-popular finance app in the iPhone App Store. The advertising is handled by Mobclix, an advertising network focused on the iPhone and Android markets that debuted at TechCrunch50 in September. In a half-dozen visits, I’ve seen only the BofA ad. But the developer, Hardy Macia, says he’s seen several movies advertised on the app. 

Clicking on the BofA ad (first screenshot) takes users to the BofA landing page (second screenshot on right) hosted within the App Store environment, i.e., the pages are not displayed within the normal Safari environment. The only navigation options are:

  • Learn more (see 3rd screenshot)
  • Download (see 4th screenshot)
  • Visit bofa.mobi
  • Close (the X in the lower-right) which takes you back to the CheckPlease app

CheckPlease is a product of Catamount Software which has developed mobile personal finance software since 1994, when it launched PocketMoney for the Apple Newton. PocketMoney is now available for the Palm and iPhone. The company just added an ad-free version of CheckPlease for $0.99.

The free CheckPlease iPhone app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times according to its developer and owner of Catamount Software, Hardy Macia.

      CheckPlease iPhone App                       BofA landing page

  photo (2)          photo 

          Learn More page                                 Download page (note 1)

  photo (3)         photo (4)

Note:
1. Surprisingly, the buttons on this page are not clickable. To download the BofA app, iPhone users must close this screen and open the App Store button on the home screen(s) of their iPhone.

Citibank Credit Cards Coming to the iPhone Nov. 1, Powered by Firethorn

image Firethorn (owned by Qualcomm) has a new iPhone app called Mobile Banking for AT&T Customers. The app is currently ranked number eight in the finance category of the Apple iTunes App Store (see screenshot below). Of the transactional services, only PayPal and BofA’s Mobile Banking are higher.

Firethorn iPhone app (27 Oct 2008) The application can be used to access online banking at any of the ten financial institution holding companies, and their subsidiaries, currently supported by Firethorn:

  • 1st Bank (Colorado)
  • America First Credit Union
  • Arvest
  • BancorpSouth
  • Caroline First
  • Mercantile Bank
  • Suntrust
  • Synovus
  • USAA
  • Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo)

The Firethorn application has 27 reviews so far and has scored a 4-star average (out of 5), much better than the typical finance app (see previous coverage here). The main complaint is lack of coverage for the user’s bank, which is not the fault of the app.  In comparison, Bank of America’s app garnered 434 reviews and a 2.5-star rating.

I downloaded the application today and, unfortunately, I don’t have an account at any of the financial institutions; however, that will change next week if they hit the dates contained in the Featured Providers page.

Here are coming-soon financial institutions:

  • Citi Cards (Citibank) “coming Nov. 1” (previous press release here)
  • Chase Bank “coming soon”
  • Regions Bank “beginning this fall”

Firethorn Mobile Banking on AT&T in Apple iTunes App Store (27 Oct 2008)

Moneytrackin’ is First Major Online Personal Finance Management App to Make it Into the Apple App Store

image I’m certain most major PFM providers will have an iPhone app within the next six to 12 months. It’s a valuable product extension from a functionality standpoint (see note 1). Even more important are the marketing benefits from blogger/press coverage and the App Store listing itself. 

Mint posted a blog entry last week reviewing ten iPhone finance apps. The post drew two dozen comments, most asking when a Mint app would be released for the iPhone. Mint Product VP Aaron Forth replied, “We are busy working on one now.”

Most of the better-funded PFM companies are likely working on an iPhone app, but the approval process at Apple can easily take a month or more (one developer’s story is chronicled here). So we expect to see them trickle out over the coming months.

Moneytrackin iphone app for personal finance management 30 Sep 2008 The first established online PFM to make it into the iPhone App Store is Moneytrakin’, the Barcelona, Spain-based multi-language, multi-currency PFM (note 2). We covered its launch more than two years ago (here).

The company recently announced it had surpassed 5 million transactions tracked. Assuming 250 per customer, that’s 20,000 active users. According to Compete, U.S. website traffic averages 1,000 to 2,000 per month. But many (most?) of Moneytrackin’s customers are outside the United States.

The Moneytrackin’ program, released on Sept. 19, is currently the seventh most popular app in the Finance category.

Notes:
1. For more information, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.

2. There are at least a dozen check registers and mini PFMs in the App Store, but none are from established online PFM providers. The only exception is iBuxfer, which claims to work with Buxfer using its API, but was not developed by the company. And in fact, according to the comments in the App Store, may be violating Buxfer’s terms of service. All the more reason to get your own app into the store before someone else does.

Will eWallets Make a Comeback on the iPhone?

image Since the July opening of Apple’s App Store, we’ve been tracking the apps in the Finance category (see previous coverage here). But there are also several apps in the Productivity category of interest to financial institutions: the eWallets.

Ilium's eWallet for iPhoneThere are two wallets available in the U.S. iTunes store:

  • eWallet from Ilium Software: #46 in popularity in Productivity with a cost of $9.95 and rated 3.5 stars (out of 5) across 143 reviews (see inset)
  • Memengo Wallet: #48 in Productivity with a $0.99 cost and rated 4 stars across 43 reviews (website)

Web-based eWallets never took off because of security concerns and because they provided only marginal improvements in desktop productivity. However, a mobile version has more utility owing to sticky notes with password reminders and credit card info, helpful to users away from their desks.

How it works
Storage of usernames and passwords for websites is the primary use of eWallet, but it also has a Finance category (see inset above) where users can store credit card numbers and contact info (see screenshots below).

That info is helpful when using a card to make a purchase online or through the mobile phone. It’s also a great place to store the info in case the card itself is lost or stolen.

Financial institution opportunities
While these apps haven’t gained an overwhelming following, a financial institution could offer a free version that highlights its own card offerings while providing storage space for other card numbers. That way, you get your logo on the iPhone instead of Mint, Wesabe, or some other financial institution. 

The bank-branded eWallet could also include a financial calculator and direct connection to online banking.

Ilium iPhone eWallet showing credit card info    eWallet showing credit card detail

 Note:
1. For more info see our Online Banking Repot on Mobile Money & Payments.