• Michael Weeding

Are Banking Apps are at the bottom of the “App Pile”, and if so should banks really care?

If you consider that the average Smartphone user will spend over 2 hours looking at their phone every day you would have to think that the home screen is valuable real estate and the Apps that hold the prominent position on this screen would benefit from increase branding and usage. This is not a domain that marketers can directly influence, what Apps a user chooses to place on this screen is entirely up to them and you would expect this is based on the ones that are most commonly used.

Out of general interest I spoke to some friends who use mobile banking and asked them what position their mobile banking App holds amongst their “App Pile”, the result was that not one person had their banking App on the home screen. Now I know this was not a scientific experiment based on a robust methodology, and I am not proclaiming that this research should be quoted in any strategic document, the only methodology I did apply was not speaking to anyone who works in a digital role within a bank as I would expect them to be viewing their banking Apps regularly as part of their job. I just wanted to share with you the result and pose the question that if this research was to be formalised would we find the same outcome and if so is this really a big issue, are we going to obsess more in the future about the second and third screens of the phone as much as we have about content that appears above and below the fold on the traditional Internet browser?

Intuit reported last year that the average logins to mobile banking per month was 8 which is low if we compare this to the Facebook App, Twitter or email that users would access daily, so with frequency of use low there would be no need to ensure it held a prominent home screen position ensuring that it was quick to access. Then again the other interesting result was that the majority of iPhone users had the default Weather App that came pre-installed still on the home screen despite saying that they rarely used it and had not moved it as it was there in case they needed it, debunking my theory on frequency of use determining App position. Maybe the core driver will be the level of interest in the content within the App, let’s face it while my account balance is important it is not as exciting as seeing the latest update from my social network.

So how will banks address this in the future as I expect that they would all like to think that their App will hold a prominent position on everyone’s mobile phone? I am sure many would answer this challenge by looking for enhancements that they believe will drive an increase in usage such as mobile payments and quick access to balances, but they may still not drive usage to be close the more frequently used social Apps. To make the content inside the App more interesting we should expect to see a number of mobile budgeting tools introduced, or we could see many banks go down the path of Spanish bank ‘La Caixa’ who has built over 70 Mobile Apps and has an App for nearly everything related in some way to money or banking. You would also expect the more dynamic banks will continue to look for new and interesting ways to integrate their services through providing “Shadow Features” into the more popular Apps, as they say if you cannot beat them join them.

If we wanted to think outside the box maybe Apple or Google will solve this dilemma for us by providing a premium service, with a fee of course that will determine the position the App loads onto a user’s phone. Whatever the ideas, as memory on the Smartphone continues to grow and as consumer keep adding more and more Apps to their “App Pile” I am sure the position of an App within a user phone is going to be a feature of many strategies in the future. I would be interested to hear your views?


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