Consumers access finance apps over 1 trillion times in 2019, says report

Almost a quarter of customers in the Middle East region are receiving financial advice through apps

Payday-style applications offering fast money for one or two weeks can still be found in many countries on Google Play. AP
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Consumers accessed financial apps over a trillion times last year, more than double the rate since 2017, as more people used mobiles for payment solutions, according to a new report.

Globally, the monthly average users (MAU) of top ten financial technology apps grew 20 per cent year-over-year in 2019, while traditional banking apps’ MAU grew 15 per cent.

"Consumers accessed finance apps for tasks ranging from stock management to mobile banking to payments… showcasing mobile's central role in managing daily finances," California-based mobile market trends researcher App Annie said.

It found “loyalty and referral” programmes can help cultivate “deeper engagement” from customers who use finance apps.

Citi bank, for example, reported that 83 per cent of consumers - and 94 per cent of millennials - are more likely to participate in a loyalty programme offered by a mobile finance app.

Tech giants such as Apple and Google, which offer iOS and Android operating systems for smartphones respectively, have both recognised the importance of mobile platforms. Currently, Google is offering checking accounts options and Apple is offering credit cards to their users via mobile.

The key to mobile is “ease, accessibility and simplicity”, said App Annie.

“Features like face or finger recognition streamline the user journey… a good mobile experience can make trading stock or transferring money as fun as levelling up in a game or as engaging as social media.”

The Middle East – which has a high internet penetration rate and an advanced digital infrastructure – is not far behind in the use of financial apps.

Almost a quarter of customers in the region currently receive financial advice through mobile apps, a report released by the consultancy Ernst & Young this month showed.

Entertainment and fitness apps also gained traction worldwide in the last year.

“The ever-growing adoption of video streaming apps on mobile devices to watch movies, TV shows and live events helped bolster their demand,” said the report.

Globally, consumers spent 50 per cent more sessions on entertainment apps last year than in 2017. Whereas, they spent $1.5 billion (Dh5.50bn) on fitness apps in 2019, 130 per cent more than in 2017.

Not only are mobile apps growing but companies with mobile-first approach are also faring well, the report said.

Mobile-first companies saw 825 per cent higher average initial public offering valuation last year.

The three largest IPOs of last year were companies with mobile as a core focus of their business. Alibaba Group was at top with $167.6bn, followed by Prosus & Naspers ($100bn) and Uber ($82.4bn), said App Annie.

“Mobile-focused companies had a combined $544bn valuation, almost 6.5 times higher than companies without a mobile focus. These are further indications that mobile is essential to succeeding with customers in 2020 and beyond,” it added.

Consumers spent $120bn in downloading almost 204 billion mobile apps last year globally. Annual worldwide downloads have grown 45 per cent in three years since 2016 and 6 per cent annually. This figure excludes re-installs and app updates.

Downloads are largely fuelled by emerging markets, including India, Brazil and Indonesia, while consumers in mature markets like the US, Japan and Korea have seen download growth level off.