The first wave of banking and fintech apps got high marks for delivering features that allowed time-crunched users to tackle important tasks. But the next wave of personal finance apps is going one giant step better by not going it alone. Driven by the realization that there is real strength in numbers, smart fintech companies are pairing, partnering and joining forces to deliver apps that offer life solutions (not point solutions) aligned with users’ lifestyles, life stages and context at the magical “mobile moment” when they reach to their fiercely personal devices for seriously helpful assistance.
Last week’s tie-up between Acorns – the fastest-growing micro-investing app in the U.S. with over 2 million investment accounts – and Clarity Money, the rapidly growing personal finance app with 450,000 users founded by Adam Dell, brother of Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell, is the latest in a raft of announcements by fintech startups determined to redefine personal finance.
Revolut, the app-based digital only bank, announced a partnership with pension manager PensionBee, allowing Millennials to combine their pensions in one plan, adding more pensions as they switch jobs. Starling Bank in the U.K. became the first in the country to partner with Transferwise, giving Starling customers direct, in-app access to TransferWise’s money transfer services. Stock trading app Robinhood, which already teamed up with StockTwits’ real-time social network for the financial and investing community, added TradeIt to its roster of partners, ensuring users can view brokerage accounts, place trades, and fund their account without exiting the experience, no matter which broker they use.
It’s a flurry of activity aimed at filling the growing “experience gap” in what financial services offer, and what users have come to demand, observes Sameer Singh, industry analysis director at app market data provider App Annie. “Finance apps started out with an aim to solve very specific problems.” But narrow focus and rigid UI is on the way out as more fintech startups band together to break new ground with apps that put users back in control.
Little wonder that App Annie calls out finance apps as one of the two top app categories poised for massive growth (the other is mobile commerce). Drawing from data offered exclusively to Forbes, Singh notes that the last two years have seen “phenomenal growth” in app sessions. In the U.S. alone app sessions on Android are up 50% to reach nearly 22 billion, up from 14 billion in 2014. In Europe (including Russia and Turkey) app sessions on the Android platform increased a whopping 180% to reach over 55 billion sessions in 2016, up from just under 20 billion sessions in 2014. Overall, App Annie counts around “200 billion financial apps sessions globally across iOS and Android.”