Facebook Financial & Banking Apps Have Only 263 Daily Users

image It's been a while since we looked at the actual usage of payment, personal finance, lending, and banking apps on Facebook (previous coverage here; see note 1). And assuming the numbers provided by Facebook are accurate, it's not good news. 

Overall, the banking and personal finance apps have anemic usage levels totaling just 263 daily users (for apps with more than 1 daily user). That does not include virtual currencies or stock tracking/investing applications (see note 2). In comparison, the most popular general Facebook app, FunWall, has more than 3 million daily users.

But the number will grow rapidly if major financial institutions add balance inquiry functionality such as (#4) MyMoney from Fiserv's Galaxy unit (previous coverage here) and mShift's Key Point Credit Union app discussed here (only 1 daily user, so it did not make our table).  Activity in Facebook personal finance apps yesterday (13 March 2008):

Name (parent) Daily Users
1. PayPal (eBay) 80
2. Billmonk (Obopay) 55
3. LendingClub* 26
4. MyMoney (Fiserv) 17
5. PayMe 14
6. Debt Manager 10
7. Prosper 7
8. FriendFunds 7
9. UPside Visa Card Balance Reader 6
10. Web Money 6
11. Buxfer 5
12. IOU (Sanjay Madan) 5
13. Split It (TD Bank) 4
14. MoneyExchange (Revolution Money) 4
15. IOU (Jonas Neubert) 3
16. Mortgage Calculator 3
17. BillTrack 3
18. Insurance Marketplace 2
19. Wesabe 2
20. FB E-Wallet 2
21. Intuit Tax Tips 2
TOTAL 263**

*See comment 1

**Does not include apps with less than 2 users

Notes:

1. You cannot make a meaningful comparison with last summer's activity because Facebook changed the way it reports usage. Previously, the company reported the number of application downloads and now it shows the much, much smaller "active daily user" total. For example, in July 2007, LendingClub had already had more than 11,000 downloads. Under the new measurement system it tallies just 26 daily users which puts it in third place (see table below).

2. The leading stock tracking app, Fantasy Stock Exchange, has 7,990 daily users. The most popular virtual currency AceBucks has 11,300 daily users.

Online Financial Services Scorecard: November 2007

Compete Online Banking & Financial Services Scorecard: Nov. 2007

Commentary
The revolving credit season was off to a quick start as credit card applications posted a double-digit increase. However, all other product categories declined.

  • Monthly credit card applications rose 11% in November and conversion was up for all but one tracked company. Almost all companies experienced double-digit application growth as well.
  • Several key companies in the mortgage refinance space experienced significant losses among both shoppers and submitted leads/applications. Purchase shopper activity dropped 8% from October while applications saw a 19% drop.
  • Home equity saw a 27% decrease in shoppers, and a 13% decrease in total leads and applications.
  • In deposits, there was a slight decrease from last month in shoppers and applicants for savings and checking accounts. High-yield savings had 13% fewer shoppers. However, with large application growth turned in by several companies, total application volume slipped just 1%.

About the Financial Services Scorecard
In April, we introduced the Financial Services Monthly Performance scorecard produced by Compete. It summarizes the overall performance of 23 large U.S. financial institutions and lead-generation sites. Refer here for the detailed methodology as well as companies tracked.

Online Financial Services Scorecard: October 2007

Update, Dec. 10: The original chart, published Dec. 7, contained a mistake in the home equity application count. The correct number, shown above, is 82,362 instead of the 111,139 in the previous chart. NetBanker and Compete regret the error.

In April, we introduced the Financial Services Monthly Performance scorecard produced by Compete. It summarizes the overall performance of 23 large U.S. financial institutions and lead-generation sites. Refer here for the detailed methodology as well as companies tracked. 

Commentary
Online credit card applications were up as consumers prepared for holiday shopping. In contrast, home loans continued their downward trend.

  • Monthly credit card applications rose 4% in October and conversion was up 5 points, reversing the prior month-over-month trend. 
  • Several key competitors in the home loans refinance and purchase categories saw significant losses among both shoppers and submitted leads/applications bringing total submitted mortgage activity down 11% from September.
  • Home equity saw a 14% decrease in shoppers and a 14% decline in total leads and applications submitted. Both direct lenders and lead aggregators saw declines this past month.
  • In deposits, there were 4% more shoppers across all categories (checking, savings and high-yield savings).  Only checking, however, was able to convert that into more online applications with a 7% increase.

Bank of America’s Online Banking Base Up 11%

The world's largest online banking base (note 1) grew an impressive 11% year-over-year, rising to 22.8 million active users, an increase of 2.2 million from 30 Sep 2006 (note 2). 

Bill payment grew slower, up 7% or 800,000 users, ending the period at 11.6 million active users. Overall bill pay volume is $224 billion annually, or $1,600 per user per month. Bill pay as a percent of online banking fell more than one point to just under 51% (note 3).  

Online Banking     Bill Pay     % of OL using Bill Pay

2007        22.8 mil            11.6 mil              50.8%

2006        20.6 mil            10.8 mil              52.4%

Change    +2.2 mil            +800,000            (1.6%)
                +10.7%               +7.4%

Notes:
1. As far as we know, no bank in the world has more active online users; however, one could argue that PayPal, with 37.5 million active users in the latest quarter, is larger. Interestingly, ING Direct is closing in on BofA on a worldwide basis. With its Sharebuilder acquisition, ING Direct has 20 million accounts worldwide, about 30% in the United States, although not all are active, which BofA defines as being online within the past 90 days.

2. According to Doug Brown, Bank of America's SVP Product Innovation E-Commerce Channel Services, as cited during his BAI Retail Delivery presentation.

3. See Online Banking Report #137, p. 28, for totals back to 2000. 

Online Financial Services Scorecard: September 2007

Compete online financial sales chart

In April, we introduced the Financial Services Monthly Performance scorecard produced by Compete. It summarizes the overall performance of 23 large U.S. financial institutions and lead-generation sites. Refer here for the detailed methodology as well as companies tracked. 

Commentary
In September, leads for home equity, mortgage purchase and refinance continued to decline. Regular savings accounts also dropped significantly, although the high-yield version savings booked an 8% increase.

Other highlights in September:  

  • Within the deposit category, checking accounts and regular savings declined; however, the high-yield category showed good growth with 137,000 online applications from two million shoppers, 11,000 more than last month.
  • While there were 8% more online credit card shoppers this month, lower conversion rates resulted in a 3% decline in submitted applications. 
  • On the loan side, both home equity and purchase mortgage categories experienced more shopping activity. But once again, a decline in conversion rates resulted in fewer submitted leads/applications. 
  • Refinance mortgages continued to slide in both online shopping activity (down 14%) and submitted leads/applications (down 8%). Several lenders saw double-digit percentage declines.

Web 2.0 Takes Over the Top-10 Internet Domains

Here's a great slide from Mary Meeker's Web 2.0 Summit presentation (download at Morgan Stanley) showing the dominance of social networking sites. If you haven't been able to get management to buy off on your social media plans, circulate this slide.

These are the top 10 domains now compared to two years ago as measured by Alexa. The red sites on the left have dropped out of the top 10 giving way to the green sites. Web 2.0-oriented sites can now claim six of the top-10 slots, including four social networks: FacebookOrkut (Google), Myspace and Hi5, and two user-generated sites:  YouTube and Wikipedia.    

Also according to Morgan Stanley, worldwide Internet use passed the 1 billion mark early last year, and is estimated to hit 1.3 billion this year. The chart also shows the distribution of Internet users by region. Note the dominance of the red part of the bar, and, no, that's not Republicans, it's Asia/Pacific.

Online Financial Services Scorecard: August 2007

Compete's online financial services purchase activity

In April, we introduced the Financial Services Monthly Performance scorecard produced by Compete. It summarizes the overall performance of 23 large U.S. financial institutions and lead-generation sites. Refer here for the detailed methodology as well as companies tracked. 

Commentary
In August, the continued rise in interest rates led to a drop in home equity, mortgage refinance, and credit card applications while deposit accounts and purchase mortgage applications were up.

Some highlights from the monthly activity: 

  • Credit Card applications were down 2% overall, but Chase (27%) and Capital One (5%) grew applications and conversion compared to July
  • Savings applications were up across the group with the exception of Citibank which posted a 13% decline
  • For high-yield savings, only HSBC and ING Direct saw both application and conversion growth
  • Home equity application/lead volume and conversion dropped across the group with declines observed at 9 of 16 providers
  • Purchase mortgage  application/lead volume was up over July with Countrywide and Capital One both showing notable growth
  • The refinance mortgage market was flat overall, masking strong application/lead growth at Countrywide, E-Loan and NexTag while declines were recorded at LendingTree/GetSmart, LowerMyBills and Low.com

Mint.com Traffic = $17 billion bank

Compete's latest data confirms the spike in traffic at three-week old online personal finance startup Mint. The startup created considerable buzz after winning the $50,000 grand prize at TechCrunch in September (see previous coverage here).  

According to Compete, Mint's 200,000 unique visitors in September equaled that of $17-billion Webster Bank, the 64th largest U.S. bank or thrift holding company according to American Banker (Q1 2007). It will be interesting to see if Mint experiences a dramatic traffic decline after the publicity-driven visits slow down.   

Traffic at Mint.com (blue) vs. Webster Bank <websteronline.com> (red)

Mint vs Webster Bank traffic

Keeping Your Credit Score at 98.6 Degrees

Just like a fluctuating body temperature is an indicator of your underlying health, your credit score is a similar measure of your financial well being. Yet, in a recent poll of Facebook users age 18-24, we found that fewer than 20% had seen their credit report or credit score within the past year (see note 1, 2).

Furthermore, today's tightened credit market has put a premium on having a good credit score, even in the upper end "prime segment." Here's the tease from the top of the Personal Journal section of today's Wall Street Journal, "Lending squeeze raises the bar on credit scores." (article here, see note 3).

Clearly there is a need here. Most U.S adults, especially younger ones, should track their credit score at least quarterly. However, fewer than 10% of adults subscribe to credit monitoring services, partly because of their cost and partly because of the hassle (see note 2).

Banks, credit unions and card issuers are ideally suited to fill this gap. At a minimum, low-cost one-click access to their credit score would provide customers with an important early warning system to stave off potentially debilitating personal finance woes (note 4).

Notes:

1. Be aware that this is a completely unscientific online poll of 200 Facebook users who say they are age 18-24 in their Facebook profile. The results should NOT be projected to the larger population. It was conducted on July 23, 2007 by Online Banking Report (see note 2).

2. For more information, see the latest Online Banking Report on Credit Monitoring.

 3. And over at another Dow Jones effort, the FiLife blog, the writers have been on a bit of a mission to pressure banks and card issuers to make credit scores freely available to customers (see post here). FiLife is a joint effort between Dow Jones and IAC, the parent of Lending Tree and GetSmart.  

4. According to the FiLife article cited above, among top-10 banks, only WaMu currently provides free access to credit scores for its credit card customers (see inset).

The Aging of Facebook Makes it a More Appealing Platform for Financial-Services Firms

Facebook traffic from comScoreDue to Facebook's roots as a college-only social networking site, as recently as last year you had to use a .edu email address to gain admittance, it has remained a young person's playground much longer than MySpace. However, much to the chagrin of my college-age niece and her friends (note 1), Facebook has aged rapidly this year.

As you can see in the inset, in May, comScore reported that more than half of Facebook visitors were 25 or older (see full press release here and note 2). Using this chart, we estimate the median age of a Facebook visitor was about 23 a year ago and now it's closing in on 30 (I'd guess 27 or 28 based on the comScore data). Even more frightening for the younger set: last month there were 2.6 million more unique visitors over age 35 than in the 18-24 category. We noted this trend at MySpace last year (here).

Significance for Banks
As you consider your social networking strategy, don't think it's only for the under-25 crowd. Some of your prime customers, the 30-somethings with new families, new cars, new homes, and accelerating careers, also keep in touch with friends via social networks. Refer to Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance, for a long-term forecast and strategic options for financial institutions. Also, see our earlier post on the Top-10 Banking & Money apps on Facebook here.

Facebook Lingo Defined
For those of you new to Facebook, Ad Age ran a sidebar off its lead article this week, This 23-Year-Old has Google Sweating, explaining a few key Facebook terms:

  • Minifeed: Like an RSS feed, that automatically updates everyone on your friends list of any changes you make to your profile, including removing items. This feature caused a bit of a revolt, due to privacy issues, when introduced last year. But now it seems to be an important part of the network. It's especially critical for the viral spread of new applications such as Lending Club or Chipin. Unless they opt out, every time a Facebook user adds an application to their account, all their friends are notified in the mini-feed.
  • Poke: The virtual equivalent of smiling at a co-worker passing in the hallway; a way to connect with someone without the more formal protocols of email, text, or voice messaging.   
  • The Wall: A place to write comments on your friends profile, or respond to comments on yours.
  • Tag: Allows users to associate names with the people in the pictures they've posted. As Ad Age says, "a college grads worst nightmare when it comes to the ever-crucial job search."

Notes:

1. This summer, my niece, a college sophomore, couldn't believe that I had a Facebook account. And she was more than a bit skeptical of my claim that I was tracking the social network for my blog and newsletter. To her, it's a privileged place for her friends to communicate: uncles, aunts, and especially parents, are definitely not on the invitation list. It will be interesting to see what happens to the hip kids as the establishment invades their turf. The Wall Street Journal had a similar story this week about fellow workers and even bosses requesting to be added as friends in social networks (here).

2. comScore is reporting the demographic profile of visitors, NOT the active-user base, i.e., those that maintain profiles. Active users would undoubtedly skew younger.