Mobile banking apps are increasingly becoming more important than bank branches. A recent study showed that people visit branches at less than half the rate that they use banking apps. The trend is only expected to accelerate, as banks continue to close branches and invest more heavily in technology. Not only do users demand functionality, but they increasingly demand better design and a more intuitive interface.
Every year, MagnifyMoney (where I work) conducts a study of the best mobile banking apps. This study aggregates user rankings from the Apple and Android app stores. User reviews of the 50 largest bank and credit union apps as well as prominent internet-only banks were included in the survey. The data was collected from the iTunes and Google Play stores during the week of November 30, 2016. The results this year show that consumer satisfaction has increased, as banks continue to invest and competition intensifies.
Best Mobile Banking App From A Large Bank – Chase
For the second year in a row, Chase was voted the best mobile banking app in the country for a large bank. Chase’s rating improved by 8% compared to last year. And that improvement was necessary to keep just ahead of Capital One. Chase’s app was applauded by users for a combination of design and functionality. Here is an example of a customer review:
“The interface is well designed [sic], intuitive and responsive. I cannot think of a single issue.” — Nov. 21, 2016.
Chase’s app has a lot of the features deemed most important by consumers, which includes fingerprint sign-on, mobile check deposit and the ability to see images of deposited checks. Consumers want to be able to do everything on the app, and Chase has been adding functionality throughout the year to keep people satisfied.
Bill Wallace, head of Digital Banking at Chase, noted that “Chase is committed to developing digital products that remove friction and offer a convenient banking experience. We appreciate the recognition from our customers.”
And Chase will need to continue to innovate if it wants to remain ahead. Capital One’s ratings improved 12% compared to last year, and just barely missed the first place position. Capital One’s improved ratings are the result of continued investment in functionality and design.
But the biggest year over year improvement came from Citibank, which saw its user reviews improve 19% compared to last year. Citi also added a lot of functionality, including the ability to buy and sell stocks from within the app.
Credit Unions Are Investing, Too
Credit unions struggled to remain competitive in the world of online banking. However, credit unions have learned their lesson and have been making good investments in mobile banking technology. The most popular credit union app belonged to Eastman Credit Union, which services Tennessee. Eastman’s recent update in September, which added Apple Watch functionality, was particularly popular and helped the credit union secure the top spot.
The Worst Mobile Banking Apps
The reviews in the apps stores tell a clear story. You can see when people are happy (Chase), but you can also see very clearly when people are not happy. The title of worst mobile banking app for a large bank went to BB&T. Its score of 2.8 was down from 3.8 last year – and far below Chase’s score of 4.5. But credit unions were not spared either. The least popular credit union app belonged to First Tech Federal Credit Union, which had a rating of only 1.9. Comments in the app stores point to disgruntlement with an update released in the fall. But there is good news for bank and credit union executives. If they want to know how happy (or unhappy) their customers are, they only need to look in the app store for rapid and immediate feedback.
Apps Are Fast Becoming The Primary Way To Interact With Consumers
When banks first launched apps, they were convenient tools to check your balance and keep on top of your spending. However, consumers are expecting – and banks are delivering – ever more functionality. Particularly with younger consumers, apps are becoming critical to attracting and retaining consumers. As one user of Citibank’s app wrote in his review, “It has come up a long way. Each update better than the last. Because of this app I rarely have to physically go to the bank.” Many consumers want to be able to do everything outside of the branch, and this trend will have profound implications on the future of banking and traditional branches.
MagnifyMoney receives advertising compensation from Chase. However, compensation from advertising partners did not impact the methodology or results of the mobile banking application survey, which were based upon user reviews in the app stores.