Banks Jump into Personal Finance Apps Anyone Can Use

Not too long ago we took a look at how personal finance apps could actually be helping bank loyalty. It seems that banks are catching on to this trend and are now trying to use it to their advantage. As Mary Wisniewski recently wrote about in American Banker, some institutions are trying to earn themselves new customers by offering apps that anyone can use.

One example of this is Ally who has been promoting their app (which is still limited to a beta test at the moment) called Splurge Alert. This clever application informs users when they are near locations that might cause them to overspend. Taking it one step further, users can also program “Splurge Buddies” whom the app will message should you set foot into one of these tempting spots. While it may not be the most practical idea, there’s no doubt that it helps promote Ally — an online-only bank — to new consumers.

Similarly Capital One offers a credit monitoring app called CreditWise. In the description for the application, which was released just last month, the company makes sure to state that it’s “available to everyone not just Capital One customers,” with the first half of that statement actually appearing caps. The description goes on to say that the app is intended to help users “understand what makes up your score and find helpful ways to take action to improve it.”

As Alex Johnson, director of credit advisory service for Mercator Advisory Group, notes these products help banks, “establish their brand with noncustomers, particularly millennials who tend to gravitate to these types of mobile apps.” By offering a compelling reason to download an app and use it regularly, banks are opening the door to increased brand engagement and potentially even sales. While most customers are unlikely to seek out information on bank products they might not specifically need at that moment, finance apps afford brands the opportunity be there and supply them with information when they do. With that, such apps could be a potential goldmine for banks who need to sell services to survive.

Even if bank-built apps don’t necessarily do a hard push to sign up customers they could end up building customer loyalty simply by providing a strong user experience. At the same time banks should realize that the personal finance app space is a competitive one. Thus no bank can just crank out an application and expect downloads to soar — it needs to be something consumers find useful and isn’t just a clear marketing ploy. As Nicole Sturgill of CEB put it, users “will not care if [guidance] is coming from a bank or startup. It doesn’t matter. If the app is useful, you will use it.”

Once again banks are seeing the value in FinTech ideas. While some institutions like Chase have had squabbles with personal finance apps in the past, others now appear to be open to giving their consumers more choices. Additionally these brands are learning that providing content, information, and advice can be effective in courting new users  As a result, with the right app, banks could help strengthen loyalty among their current customers while likely bringing in new ones.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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