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Mobile payments Updated: 21 Aug 2017

Banks will open their own app stores

The world of mobile apps is undergoing unstoppable growth, and the banking sector is following this phenomenon very closely.

According to the report "Where's That App? The Rise of Banking App Stores" by Gartner, bank IT and marketing managers are facing two fundamental challenges as regards mobile apps:

  • Banking apps are becoming less visible in official app stores (Google Play Store, App Store, etc.) due to the increase in the number of available apps.
  • The visibility of the apps on bank websites is being reduced as the range of apps increases. This factor is often made worse by the poor usability of the websites: the apps are usually displayed based on the business area we are accessing, making it difficult to get an idea of all the apps being offered by the bank. And even when there is a section displaying them, their descriptions are usually vague and, therefore, of little use.

According to Kristen Moyer, Research Vice President at Gartner: "Not addressing these two challenges results in a substantial negative impact on the bank's revenue, as well as on the customer's experience. Banks can use their own app stores to improve their publicizing, but only if the cost and complexity warrant it". In the light of these challenges, Gartner's report offers three tips for the technology, marketing and business line managers of banks:

Assess the need for opening their own app store

The two most relevant variables when assessing the need for opening a banking app store are the total number of apps and the presence (or absence) of a common API platform. There are three main options deriving from these variables:

  • App store: the implementation should be customer-facing and targeted at the retail, commercial and user sector of investment banking. It should include a full description of the app and its functions, user ratings and help information. In some cases it may allow direct downloading of the apps (in the case of Android) or link with some of the public app repositories (in the case of iOS). This is a suitable option for banks that already have more than 15-20 apps.
  • Website reorganization: in those cases where the banks have developed fewer than 20 apps (and lack an API platform), the best option might be to revamp the website in order to make it easier for users to find the apps and provide feedback. Banks have to make it easier for users to search for the apps they need, even if "they have to use a banner that reads 'Get your mobile app here'. Moreover, banks should provide a special section on their website listing all the apps targeted at customers [...] This will be more effective if the total number of apps is less than 20”.
  • Standard websites: the bank, having developed one single app, continues with business as usual.

Given the rapid growth of apps, Gartner believes that banks should assess the need for specific app stores by 2015. The consultancy firm expects that by 2016, 25% of the large banks will have deployed app stores to improve the publicizing of their apps, user experience and collaboration. As more banks deploy their stores, competitive pressure on latecomers will increase.