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Banks Gear Up (or not) for Upcoming Apple Pay Release

By Jim Bruene on October 14, 2014 7:42 PM | Comments

image If all goes well, some time within the next week Apple Pay will be up and running. Short-term it won't cause a ripple in market share or consumer behavior (see previous post), but long-term it is likely to be seen as an important mobile-payments milestone.

Regardless, I look forward to using it. But with only a couple contactless terminals in my usual Seattle haunts, I guess I'll be buying lots of coffee at Peet's and Tully's while I test it.

But I digress.

imageThe subject for today is what banks are and aren't doing to ride on Apple's mobile coattails. There has been little FI marketing so far, other than PayPal's NY Times full-pager poking fun at it (15 Sep 2014, see inset). And some media buys from Visa and MasterCard.

Eleven financial institutions were named at the official Apple Pay launch Sept 9. Six major launch partners below and 5 "coming soon" issuers (see note 1).

The big six have been almost silent since the first week when four of the six issued press releases, emailed customers (note 2) and/or posted promos on their websites.

Issuers may now be gearing up their marketing machines, which were caught relatively unaware last month due to Apple-prescribed secrecy, for an pre-holiday Apple Pay push. However, I would not be surprised if major issuers, who've already seen contactless card usage fizzle, take a wait-and-see approach for the remainder of 2014.

In any event, it will be interesting to watch. 

_________________________________

Apple Pay FI launch partner marketing to date
_________________________________

American Express 
   Press release: No
   Email: None reported
   Website promotion: None reported
   Website site search: Nothing listed

Bank of America
   Press release: No
   Email: One reported by The Financial Brand (link) though I did not receive
   Website promotion: Nothing now, but promo reported at launch by Jim Marous in The Financial Brand
   Website site search: Links to landing page (link)

Capital One
   Press release: link
   Email: One sent to my consumer account (12 Sep)
   Website promotion: None reported
   Website site search: Nothing

Chase
   Press release: Quoted in Apple's official release (link)
   Email: One reported by MediaLogic (link) though I did not receive
   Website promotion: Nothing now, but promo reported at launch by The Financial Brand
   Website site search: Nothing

Citibank
   Press release: link
   Email: None reported
   Website promotion: Nothing now, but promo reported at launch by The Financial Brand
   Website site search: Nothing

Wells Fargo
   Press release: link
   Email: Two sent to my consumer account (11 Sep and 19 Sep)
   Website promotion: Nothing now, but promo reported at launch by The Financial Brand

   Website site search: Nothing

______________________________

Second wave issuers
______________________________

Perhaps because they are smaller and must try harder, three of the six next-wave Apple Pay issuers (note 1) have promos running on their websites today:

Barclaycard homepage (one of three promos in rotation)

image

PNC Bank homepage (in lower left corner)

image

US Bank homepage (one of 3 promos in rotation)

image 

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Notes:
1. The 5 other issuers mentioned at the Apple launch were: Barclays, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, US Bank, USAA. Yesterday, Arvest Bank announced it was supporting the system as well.
2. Despite having 10 card accounts (4 business and 6 personal) across the six launch partners, I have only received emails from two (Wells Fargo on Sep 11 & 19 and Capital One on Sep 12).

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Categories: Apple, Mobile Payments

Why (Most) Banks Need Not Worry About Apple Pay (Yet)

By Jim Bruene on September 15, 2014 5:04 PM | Comments

image I'll admit to being caught up in the hype. The 48 hours after Tim Cook revealed Apple's long-rumored foray into payments were some of the most exciting times in fintech since the 1995 to 1997 period when most of the online "firsts" happened (see note 1).

And we're seeing more thoughtful fintech posts in the past week than we used to see in an entire year. Thanks especially to Tom Noyes, Cherian Abraham, Brian Roemmele, Celent's Zilvinas Bareisis and finally today from Gonzo's Steve Williams for helping me see beyond the hype.

I can add little that hasn't already been said to the discussion about NFC, payment ecosystems, or the future of mobile payments. Clearly, it marks a turning point for mobile payments and improved U.S. security, and the play-out will be fun to watch.

The one area I haven't seen covered: What does all this mean for the 10,000 U.S. banks and credit unions not on the 11-name list at launch (note 2)?

So here's my take on the impact of Apple Pay on small- and medium-sized FIs over various time horizons: 

In the short term (2014): ZERO

In the medium term (2015-2016): ZERO

In the long run (2017+): Something, but impossible to quantify at this point
                                     (it could even be net positive)

Here's why bank/CU execs (outside the top-20 credit-card issuers) should not lose sleep over what Apple is doing:

1. Apple Pay (in the physical world) can only be used at contactless terminals
Supposedly, there are 220,000 contactless terminals in the United States. But if you've ever tried to use one, you know that 200,000 of them are either not working or are buried behind beef jerky on the counter. This will change rapidly as merchants upgrade during the next few years.

2. It's complicated to use (at first)
First, you need an iPhone 6, then you need to figure out how to use Apple's Passbook program, log in to iTunes or take a picture of your card, successfully authorize it, enable TouchID and so on. Millions of early adopters will figure all that out, but then they won't be able to find a working contactless terminal (see #1) and then they'll forget all about it.

3. The number of your customers that care enough to move deposit accounts for NFC payments is near zero (for now)
Let's do the math. Assume that a year from now there are 5 million Apple Pay active users (making at least one transaction per week) or 2.5% of U.S adults. If you have 20,000 customers, that means 500 will be active users of Apple Pay. Most will be happy to use their existing Capital One, Citi, and other rewards credit cards for the transactions. Very few will care that your debit card doesn't work on the system. Let's say it's around 25%. That means you have something like 125 customers who are disappointed with your mobile payment capabilities. If they like you otherwise, how many will move their checking account to get an Apple Pay-enabled version? While the number is probably zero, let's say it's 5% to 10%. That means you could lose 6 to 12 customers. Using the 80/20 rule, only one or two of them are profitable. Will it hurt to lose two profitable customers? Sure, but it's not going to be on your top-10 or top-25 list of worries.   

4. There are ways to mitigate any lost wallet share to Apple-Pay issuers
Even if my math in #3 is way off, or you are concerned that you will take a material hit to the bottom line, or you just want to be part of Apple Pay, easy routes will undoubtably be built to get your cards enabled into Apple Pay. Maybe not in 2014 (or even 2015), but certainly within the next couple years. And even if I'm wrong and you are locked out of the iPhone indefinitely, you can create an Apple Pay poaching program where your customers make their charges on a bigco bank card, then you automatically pay those charges off and essentially transfer them to your customer's checking account.

So my final advice. If you have an employer (or spouse) that's been reluctant to fund your iThings, now is the perfect time to do an upgrade (just don't show them this post).

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Chase homepage shown to existing customers (15 Sep 2014)
Note: All three links on bottom of page go to the iPhone6 "Apple Pay" features page at Apple.com which leads with Chase (link)

image 

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Notes:
1. Or perhaps 1999 when Paypal/X.com made P2P payments happen or even 2005/2006 when Zopa/Prosper/LendingClub launched consumer credit exchanges.
2. See Apple Pay launch event clip here, complete with transcript.

Comments

Apple Touches Off First Wave of Mobile Banking Biometrics

By Jim Bruene on June 4, 2014 7:12 PM | Comments

image We've known this day was coming ever since Apple acquired AuthenTec two years ago for $350 million. That was real money back in the pre-Beats/Nest/Oculus days.

Monday, Apple made it official at its annual developers' conference: The fingerprint authentication system built into the iPhone 5S (Touch ID) will open to outside developers in the next iOS update (v8.0 expected in mid-September). That means that app publishers, including banks, credit unions & wallet providers, will be able to use it to provide initial authorization into a secure app. 

image The new feature was demonstrated on stage by logging in to Mint (see inset, screen cap tweeted by Bradley Leimer Monday). In the demo, Mint users are prompted to use the touchpad to open the app (the small type says, "Please authenticate in order to proceed"). Users are also given a password option.

Most likely, banks will use Touch ID, as well as other handset-resident biometric systems (note 1) to deliver "read-only" access to data. It's an approach that's been catching on around the world even before Apple's biometric wizardry. Citibank is the most recent to provide a no-login glimpse in its mobile app (called SnapShot), rolling it out nationwide two weeks ago (press release). It's also used at Westpac (NZ), Commonwealth (AU), Bank of the West, City Bank of Texas and many more (note 2).

For anything transactional, such as a wire transfer, banks will likely require additional authentication (see our Nine Circles of Security).

And of course, these security changes will generally need to be optional for customers until they become commonly accepted practices. Most users are still extremely wary of security on mobile phones, even though it is a marked improvement over the desktop (note 3).

While it's too early to know if any financial institutions will have it enabled by September, one fintech payment provider, CardFlight, wasted no time, announcing support for Touch ID just a few hours after the Apple keynote (note 4).

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Notes:
1. Celent's Jacob Jegher showed me his facial recognition login on his Android phone (Samsung?) at last month's FinovateSpring. Very cool, though he doesn't have it enabled since it slows up the login process just slightly.
2. Malauzai Software powers more than 90 credit unions and banks alone (post).
3. See our latest report on Mobile Security (March 2014, subscription) for more info.
4. Cardflight will be showing off its latest tools at our first developer event, FinDEVr, 30 Sep 2014, in San Francisco. 

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Mobile Monday: Top 50 iPhone and iPad Apps in the Finance Category

By Jim Bruene on January 7, 2013 8:38 PM | Comments
app store logo.jpg

I knocked around Apple App Store last week researching our year-end Online Banking Report. Below are the current top free finance apps in the U.S. store (note 1). While there are not a whole lot of surprises, several are notable:

  • Credit Karma maintains its top-10 ranking (#9)
  • Intuit has three of the top-10 apps (#4, 6, 8) plus #30
  • Two of the top-5 financial institution iPhone app providers (PayPal and Capital One) do not yet have iPad apps
  • Three credit-monitoring apps are in the top 32 (Credit Karma #9, Intersections #23 and Experian #32)
  • Two banks each have two apps in the top 50: Capital One (#6 and #34) and PNC (#25 and #42)
  • Five fintech startups made the top 22 (Credit Karma #9, LearnVest #15, Lemon #19, Pageonce #20, Manilla #22); all but Lemon are Finovate alums (note 2)

Methodology: I first listed the top 50 iPhone apps from the "Free Finance" category (column 2). Then I went to the iPad store and found their corresponding iPad app rank (column 3). I then listed all the remaining iPad apps in the top 50 and their corresponding iPhone rank (last 20 rows below).

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Top iPhone/iPad Finance Apps in Apple App Store (USA)

Company iPhone Rank iPad Rank
PayPal 1 none
Chase 2 3
Bank of America 3 1
Mint (Intuit) 4 5
Wells Fargo 5 2
TurboTax (Intuit) 6 31
Capital One 7 none
TaxCaster (Intuit) 8 16
Credit Karma 9 none
American Express 10 7
Discover 11 13
Citibank 12 10
USAA 13 8
State Farm 14 47
LearnVest 15 none
Yahoo Finance 16 11
Easy Envelope Budget 17 42
US Bank 18 26
Lemon 19 none
Pageonce 20 23
Fidelity 21 12
Manilla 22 none
Identity Guard (Intersections) 23 none
Navy Federal FCU 24 none
PNC 25 19
iSpending 26 116
Barclaycard 27 35
Mortgage Calc (Zillow) 28 20
TD Bank 29 none
Quicken Money Management (Intuit) 30 17
TD Ameritrade 31 27
FreeCreditScore.com (Experian) 32 55
Pocket Expense 33 15
ING Direct (Capital One) 34 none
Quicken Loans 35 none
E*Trade 36 33
Spending Tracker 37 28
SunTrust 38 none
Western Union 39 none
iSpreadsheet 40 9
BB&T 41 46
Virtual Wallet (PNC) 42 40
Bloomberg 43 22
Budget 44 none
Expensify 45 53
Ally Bank 46 none
HSBC Personal 47 none
H&R Block 48 24
Bluebird (AmEx) 49 none
Seeking Alpha 50 none
Below top 50 iPhone    
Craigslist mobile not in finance 4
Money Magazine none 6
ShareBuilder (Capital One) 114 14
CNBC 55 18
Real-time stock tracker 64 21
Vanguard 58 25
Morningstar Stockinvestor 198 29
Personal Capital 92 30
Regions Bank 54 32
Visual Budget 62 34
Merrill Lynch 84 36
Bloomberg TV 125 37
Mortgage calculator (Trulia) 102 38
SmartMoney Retirement Planner (Dow Jones) none 39
Bills for iPad (iBear) not in top 300 41
Budgets for iPad (iBear) 162 43
Checkbook free 53 44
Smart Budget 120 45
TD Ameritrade Mobile Tracker 86 48
EZ Financial Calculators 63 49
Schwab 60 50

Source: Netbanker observation of Apple App Store directly from iPad and iPhone around 6 PM Pacific, 7 Jan 2013

None = No app listed with the App Store for that device

------------------------------

Note:
1. The Apple ranking system is a bit of a black box. But it's generally believed to weigh heavily recent download activity.
2. Easy Envelope Budgeting (#18) is from a San Francisco-based Web developer Dayspring Technologies founded in 1998.

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Crossing Channels: Email Confirmation of Call-Center Conversations

By Jim Bruene on August 13, 2012 10:12 AM | Comments

image Someone in our house dropped their precious iPhone onto the floor Friday and cracked the screen into a hundred pieces (note 1). So after grabbing a new 4S model, I proceeded to do the online upgrade. Unfortunately, the new phone was unable to connect to AT&T. So, after a bit of Googling turned up no solid clues for a DIY solution, I was forced to dial the carrier's 800 number.

It turned out to be an easy fix, simply reading off a pair of of 21-digit numbers from the iPhone box while the CSR flipped a few switches on her end (note 2). And I really liked the AT&T rep, who managed to be efficient yet personable (note 3), so it was a net positive experience with the carrier.

But what really impressed me was the followup email I received shortly after completing the call (see below). It outlined what had transpired and provided several useful links to help in the migration from the old phone to the new. In addition, the company wisely encouraged self-service account management with several links below the signature line. Finally, the company inserted the name of the actual rep I'd talked to at the bottom.

Bottom line: I'm a huge fan of email for financial services communications (note 4). It's timely, it's searchable, it's easy to use, it's instantly archived, it works on every device and it helps the customer feel like their bank/CU/card issuer is holding itself accountable. And if done right, it can save additional costly service calls. All this goodness for virtually no cost.

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AT&T email confirmation of call-center service change (11 Aug 2012)

AT&T call center confirmation email

Notes:
1. I'm not naming names, but she knows who she is.
2. Memo to Apple/AT&T: If you must use 21 digits, please insert some spaces so a human can read them.
3. Even though I have a personal account, I ended up in the "Business Solutions" call center, so their may be a higher level of service in this area.
4. See our report, Email Banking: Revitalizing the Channel published two summers ago (subscription).

Comments

Apple Just Put a Mobile Wallet In 100+ Million iPhones: But Is This Passbook a Friend or Foe of Banks?

By Jim Bruene on June 12, 2012 1:46 PM | Comments

iPhone Passbook app If it wasn't obvious already, Apple is becoming the operating system of your life. And since money touches much of what we do, it's no surprise that the company is moving into the payments side.

Actually, Apple is already there. The most valuable company on the planet is already the biggest payments issuer, with 400 million payment-enable iTunes accounts.

Now, when iOS6 becomes available this fall, Apple will be the biggest mobile wallet provider as well, when 100+ million iPhones automatically getting one with the new OS upgrade.

The new baked-in wallet app is called Passbook, I presume because iWallet was taken, or Apple is saving it for something even bigger.

But regardless of the name, Passbook has broad implications in payments and commerce in general. One look at the UI (inset) shows what banks are up against. An app loaded with store cards! Just what a gazillion big-spending early adopters have been hoping for (congrats to Target and Starbucks for leading the way again).

The main reason iWallet Passbook is such a big deal, besides the Apple halo effect, is that it automatically opens your "virtual card" when you walk in the store. Yes, you read it correctly. Automatically. Opening. Mobile. Payment card. 

Starbucks "card" in Apple's PassbookFor example, when you walk into Starbucks its virtual store card, rendered in 2D bar code, will be triggered on your phone. You just swipe the lock-screen notification, enter a PIN (if necessary), scan your phone at the POS, drink your coffee and enjoy the perks (see below).

Is the POS experience dramatically better than using your Visa/MasterCard plastic? Not really during those 15 seconds of your life, but it's not worse either. Shaving 2 seconds off transaction time is not what this is about. It's the retailer value-adds that make it a huge winner.

Smart merchants will tack loyalty points/rewards/amenities (how about a free shot of vanilla in that latte?) on to Passbook-enabled purchases and you will soon be conditioned to pay with your phone. Really, just having your receipt stored safely away in the Passbook app could make the difference between using the store card vs. MC/Visa.

Because Apple wants to be platform, not a bank, they are making the tools available to developers to create apps that play nice with Passbook along with all the other iPhone utilities. So I see this as bank/issuer friendly, so far anyway, though not everyone will benefit.

While this is only speculation, I see a couple things likely to happen:

1. Proprietary single-brand (closed loop) payments make a comeback: With a direct connection to the front-screen of your iPhone as soon as you walk in the door, retailers can put together compelling in-store loyalty offers on the fly. For example, I can walk into Best Buy, and up pops my store loyalty card on the front of my iPhone. And they can dangle all kinds of bennies at me in real time, while encouraging me to pay with my Best Buy credentials rendered in a QR code on the screen (and later via NFC or a "cloud" connection).  

2. Banks and card issuers partner with retailers to become the preferred "Passbook card:" For stores that don't want to bother with the payments piece, instead of presenting a store card with the customer walks in the door, they could present the preferred partner card. For example, Costco, which only takes American Express, could launch an AmEx Passbook card when customers walk in the door.

3. The beginning of the end for paper receipts: Users will have the comfort knowing their receipts are all accessible via iPhone (and in the iCloud). So they will opt out of paper receipts at the register.

4. Mobile offers/coupons just found a new home: If you want iPhone-wielding consumers to see your offer, Apple just created an instant place to store (and discover) deals. I'm not sure if this is good or bad for ad-supported banking, but it's something to consider.

Bottom line: I could go on (for instance about Siri integration), but my head is about to explode with all the possibilities. Time will tell, but I think we just witnessed a watershed moment in mobile-enabled shopping and payments. 

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Recommended reading:

  • Read the full analysis by Glenbrook's Scott Loftesness here.
  • Fantastic stuff on on Quora too (HT to Brad Strothkamp for the link via Twitter).
  • The list of all the features via Techcrunch.
Comments

30 Most Popular iPad Apps from U.S. Banks and Other Financial Services Companies

By Jim Bruene on April 20, 2011 7:05 PM | Comments

image Apple tweaked its propriety algorithm that ranks apps in terms of popularity (Cnet article). Evidently the changes had an impact on overall rankings, but little or no effect on intra-category ranks.

That holds true with my casual observations within the finance category. Regardless, it seemed like a good time to visit the App Store and document which financial iPad apps are currently most popular (see Table below).

Note: The first column below is the rank among all financial institutions (as defined below). The second column in the app's rank within the entire App Store "finance" category.

Observations:

  • The highest rated bank is Chase at number 9 in the finance category
  • There are only two banks (Chase & USAA) in the top 20
  • There are only seven consumer banks in the top 200 (Chase, USAA, Bank of Oklahoma, Trustmark, BB&T, BBVA, Bank of Texas)
  • There are more credit unions (8) than banks (7) in top 200 in the finance category
  • Still missing some huge banking names (Amex, BofA, Capital One, Citi, Discover, Mint, PayPal, US Bank)

My methodology: Using an iPad and iPhone, I accessed the finance category of the App Store and sorted by "Most Popular." I am including only apps from any U.S. financial institution or from third parties that tap directly into financial institution data using account aggregation (e.g., from Yodlee, CashEdge, etc.). Pure content apps, like Schwab's On Investing magazine, were not included even if from a financial institution.

FI Rank Finance Rank Company App Name
(+ company)
1 1 Pageonce Money & Bills (free)
2 2 Square  
3 3 Maximo Cavazzani (works with
TD Ameritrade)
iStockManager
4 9 Chase Bank Mobile
5 10 Pageonce Pro - Money & Bills
6 11 E*Trade Mobile Pro
7 15 TD Ameritrade Mobile
8 20 USAA  
9 21 Fidelity Investments  
10 22 Thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)  
11 29 Expensify Expense Reports
12 49 Mercedes-Benz Financial My MBFS
13 50 Wescom Central Credit Union Mobile
14 59 TDECU Mobile
15 67 BofAML (BofA Merrill Lynch) MyMerrill
16 68 Bank of Oklahoma Mobile
17 74 MACU (Mountain America) Mobile Banking
18 88 Trustmark National Bank  
19 96 thinkMoney (TD Ameritrade)  
20 97 BofAML (BofA Merrill Lynch) Merrill Edge
21 98 JP Morgan Mobile
22 107 BB&T Banking
23 114 thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade) VEO Mobile
24 131 BBVA Compass Mobile Banking
25 169 NASA FCU Mobile Banking
26 170 DATCU Credit Union Mobile Banking
27 182 SCU (Scott Credit Union) Mobile Banking
28 188 Bank of Texas Mobile Banking
29 193 GWCU (Goldenwest Credit Union) Mobile Banking
30 194 American Eagle FCU Mobile Banking

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Note: For more info on mobile banking, see our previous Online Banking Reports.

Comments
Categories: Apple, Apps, Mobile Banking

American Express Wants to Power Your iTunes Purchases

By Jim Bruene on February 15, 2011 4:05 PM | Comments (1)

image How much does the average American Express cardholder spend in the iTunes store each month? A lot. And how often do you go to iTunes and change your default card? Never. Is it worth $5 to have your card powering an iTunes account? To American Express it is.

I'm sure the card company's spreadsheet shows a payback within a year or two on incremental interchange alone. But more important is the added stickiness these frequent Apple purchases give to the card. Plus, it can't hurt to associate your brand with the most valuable tech company on the planet.  

The fine print
To earn the five-song credit, cardholders must make a purchase with their Amex card between Feb. 10 and March 15. That earns a statement credit equal to five song downloads. It doesn't say which song price-point is used in the calculation, but I'm guessing the standard $0.99.

Relevance to Netbankers
It's always good business to get your card installed as an automatic payment source. Interchange goes up, credit card receivables improve, and you've added one more electronic hook to the account. So consider taking a similar approach and offering a small bounty after your card is used with a new biller.

iTunes promo on main Amex account page (Business Gold, 11 Feb. 2011)

iTunes promo on main American Express account page

Enrollment screen (link)

 Amex Enrollment screen

Comments (1)

The iPad: One Million Shipped in First Month, but Still No U.S. Bank or Credit Union Online Banking Apps

By Jim Bruene on May 3, 2010 5:13 PM | Comments (4)

image Apple today said it has shipped one million iPads (one of which went to a lucky Mint user, see inset). I don't think that's a surprise to anyone who's even mildly interested in tech.

It's debatable whether the iPad is a laptop killer, but if nothing else, it's a really capable portable media and game player. Given its appearances on The Grammys, Modern Family, Lettermen, and so on, and with Apple's cachet, how could the iPad not sell a million?

But the iPhone arrived with even more hype, and it took more than two months to sell a million back in the summer of 2007. But it was much more expensive considering the price of the phone and $800+ per year to AT&T. And there was no App Store back then: it was just email, SMS, Safari, YouTube, stock tracking and of course, my personal favorite, the weather button.

So I'm not surprised the iPad has consumer appeal. But I am surprised that no major U.S. financial brand, other than E*Trade (see screenshots below) has a native iPad app yet in the U.S. store (notes 1, 2). I expected at least a half-dozen by now. But there have been very few new apps in the iPad store across all categories. Only nine new apps have launched since April 3 in the finance category, bringing the total to 39 (see note 3; original post here ).

So, it may not entirely be the fault of the FIs. There is probably a logjam of apps waiting for approval from Apple. We look forward to seeing what the FIs and PFMs bring to the iPad throughout 2010.

E*Trade Apps: iPhone vs. iPad
Note: Relative size is accurate; see CNET's comparison of iPhone vs. iPad versions across 20 popular apps (previous post on why you need an iPad app here)

image      image

Notes:
1. Square also had its app available at launch, although they have yet to launch credit card processing, so it's not really functional yet. Card processing is expected to launch later this week when the iPhone app becomes available.
2. (Updated May 4 with "la Caixa" info and search info) They don't show on my U.S. iPad, but Spain's "la Caixa" added an iPad app to the U.S. store a few days ago (link) and Banco Sabadell has one in the U.S. store (link). Also, I just learned (May 4) that if you search specifically for the Spanish banks on my U.S. iPad, they do show up and have been successfully downloaded.
3. There are many mysteries of the App Store. One new one is the discrepancy between what's shown on my iPad vs. what's in the iTunes store. On my iPad, 30 finance apps showed on April 3, and there are now 39, for a growth of 9. iTunes shows 61 available today, up 18 from the 43 available on April 3. None of the extra 22 in iTunes are from financial institutions.
4. For more on mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

Comments (4)

Why You Should Build an iPad Banking App (Even Though You Don't Need To)

By Jim Bruene on April 11, 2010 9:51 AM | Comments (4)

One week into the iPad era there are still no banks or credit unions with iPad-specific apps (note 1). There also aren't any major PFM or other financial brands present, other than Square and E*Trade. Mint's not even there yet.

What's going on? On Friday, The Financial Brand's Jeffry Pilcher tweeted the question that's on a lot of bankers' minds:

                     image

While I suspect Jeffry is mostly being provocative, it's a question worth discussing. Should financial institutions build an iPad app?

The Web experience on the iPad is outstanding. It has a lightening-fast Safari browser built in. It loads my bank's webpage as fast or faster than my MacbookPro or Thinkpad X41. The iPad virtual keyboard makes it easy to type username and password. And for the most part (Flash is a problem), websites look and perform perfectly on the iPad (use ipadpeek.com if you want to see what your webpage looks like in an iPad layout).

So yes, online banking works fine on iPads. But you can say the same thing about most evolutionary products. Telephone calls work fine on corded phones. Cars work fine without cup holders. Refrigerators work fine without ice makers. And so on.

An iPad app isn't about utility, it's about a great user experience. The ability to click on a banking button on the main iPad screen and launch a perfectly sized online banking app shaves 30 to 45 seconds off the traditional browser-based approach (open Safari, navigate to my bank, and find the login button). There are also things you can do with an app, such as location-aware ATM/branch finder, that make it a better experience (note 2). 

So here's why most major financial brands should have an iPad app now:

  • Free publicity (part 1): As of today, there are only 39 iPad apps in the Finance category. Each of the 562,000+ iPad owners, and millions of others browsing the iTunes App Store, would see your brand showcased there.
  • Free publicity (part 2): There was, and is, a tremendous amount of hype around the iPad. Being the first bank/CU in your country/state/region/city/neighborhood with an iPad app will net you numerous mentions online and in print.
  • It's cool: While financial institutions are rightly focused on the basics right now, there is still considerable value in being seen as a technology leader.
  • It's inexpensive: Building a basic iPad/iPhone app is a relatively simple project. If it did nothing more than connect to online banking and show nearby ATMs/branches, you'd receive most of the benefits listed above.
  • It's the future: Apps and widgets will play a large role in banking info delivery going forward, especially in mobile banking. You should be designing apps for every significant platform. In the U.S. that means the iPhone and Android, then iPad and Blackberry after that (see note 3).

And one final note for the 67 U.S. financial institutions that already have iPhone apps. Yes, you still need an iPad one. While the iPhone app runs fine, it is displayed in a small window the size of an iPhone. Users can press a button in the lower-right corner to doublesize the app, but images and text become fuzzy, and it just doesn't look right (although it is functional as you can see in the screenshots below).

Bank of America's iPhone app displayed on iPad screen (5 April 2010)
Note: Click on the images below to see the quality difference

              Normal size                                                             Double sized

 image      image

Notes:
1. As of 11 PM Pacific April 10, the only major financial brand with an iPad app is E*Trade MobilePro, which is more about stock trading, not banking.
2. For more on financial apps and the iPhone, see our March 2009 Online Banking Report.
3. For more on the importance of mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.
4. Hat-tip to Banking Kismet for blogging on the subject.

Comments (4)
Categories: Apple, Mobile Banking, iPad, iPhone

Banks Shutout on iPad Opening Day, But Square is There

By Jim Bruene on April 4, 2010 9:16 PM | Comments

image After months of hearing about the iPad, I finally got my hands on one Saturday afternoon. It's a great piece of technology, but if you have an iPhone, you pretty much already know what it's like.

While the iPad runs all 150,000 apps available for the iPhone, developers are encouraged to produce iPad-optimized versions to take advantage of the significantly bigger-screen real estate.

When you open the App Store on the iPad, it focuses almost entirely on iPad apps. You have to do a specific keyword search to find non-iPad apps that work on the iPhone.

And I was surprised that neither banks nor credit unions are represented among the 30 Finance category apps available on April 3 (see screenshots below), a situation likely to be rectified with a flood of banking and credit union iPad apps during the next few months. It's definitely a place you want your brand represented (note 1).

imageThe only big financial services brand that made it to bat on opening day was E*Trade MobilePro (which hit the store last Thursday), and another trading app, iStockManager, to be used with TD Ameritrade.  Bloomberg, too, had its popular info app available on day 1 (see screenshots below for all 30 finance apps).                                       

The biggest surprise in the iPad Finance category was Square, the much-touted card-to-card payments service from Twitter's founder, which released its iPad app on April 1 (see inset). We'll be testing Square this month and hopefully using it to take last-minute credit card payments at our upcoming FinovateSpring Conference.                                                                                  Square's iPad app

The 30 iPad finance category apps available on the launch day (3 April 2010)
(Note: Organized by "featured")
Page 1: Apps 1-12                                                     Page 2: Apps 13-24image   image

Page 3: Apps 25-30

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Note: For more coverage of mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

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First Finance Apps for Apple iPad Unveiled

By Jim Bruene on April 1, 2010 6:22 PM | Comments

image Apple loaded iPad apps into the main iTunes store today (see screenshot below). Search is limited and apps by category are not yet available, but you now can browse the iTunes store for iPad-optimized apps.

I looked at all 2,400 and spotted three financial titles -- a credit card merchant terminal, a stock-info tracker (see below), and E*Trade's Mobile Pro -- plus a few calculators

I was disappointed that no banks or credit unions were represented. But the iPad launch is still 36 hours away, so I may still win my bet that Bank of America will be there on the morning of April 3.  

Apple iTunes App Store now features iPad apps (1 April, 5 PM Pacific)

image

E*Trade Mobile Pro for iPad (iTunes link)

image 

Credit Card Terminal for iPad from Inner Fence
(for Authorize.net users; iTunes link)

image

MarketScan by Michael Foster (iTunes link)

image 

Note: For more coverage of mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

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Categories: Apple, Apps, Mobile Banking, iPad

What Does the New Apple iPad Mean for Banking?

By Jim Bruene on January 27, 2010 3:08 PM | Comments (4)

image_thumb11Apple today introduced its latest invention, a gigantic $499 iPod Touch called the iPad (inset shows iPad, Kindle, vs. iPhone; note 1).

It's a gorgeous piece of technology that will soon be the movie-watching, ebook-reading device of choice for the rich and famous. But what does it mean for the average financial institution?

Tactically, it should have almost zero impact. Your iPhone/iTouch app should work pretty much the same on the iPad. There may be some design tweaks your programmers will need to understand, but the basic functionality is the same.

It would make a wonderful giveaway item, either as part of a high-end business/private banking package (note 2), or as a sweepstakes prize.     

So those of you who already have an iPhone app launched, or in the pipeline, can stop reading now. But read on if you haven't yet hopped on the app bandwagon.

___________________________________________________________________________

ipad_portrait_landscape.png

The movement to apps, and away from old-school "browsing," is unstoppable. The iPad joins a growing list of new devices (Android, Kindle, etc.) that are app-primary, browser-secondary (note 3).

It's a massive shift that's happened in less than two years, beginning in July 2008 when Apple opened the iPhone platform.

The popularity of apps is changing how users tap online info. Even power laptop/desktop users are making dramatic changes in their information consumption. For example, within a few months of the Apple app store launch, I had already moved 12 of my routine info-gathering tasks to the iPhone. The speed/convenience of pressing a single button vs. navigating to a website via the browser is a significant improvement in user experience. More than a year later, my habits have changed little. 

The change from serving customers who were "online browsers" and are now "mobile app users" has profound implications for banking. Instead of talking to your customers in batch- mode with built-in time delays, you are now real-time, feeding data to customer on the go, where they need up-to-the-minute status on their cash situation.   

In many ways, the ROI for real-time banking (and here) is more dramatic than online-batch banking. The ability to stamp out POS fraud, to nip budding customer service nightmares, and just plain get closer to the customer, all bring nice returns on the mobile investment (note 3).

Notes:
1. Photo credit: TechCrunch post today.
2. For more info on using a dedicated device for small business customers, see our October Online Banking Report.
3. Groundswell author and Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff calls this the "splinternet."
4. For more info on financial services opportunities on the iPhone, see our March Online Banking Report.
5. Initial response online was mixed, 2,700 readers of CrunchGear, voted "thumbs sideways" today (link, results at 4PM Pacific below)

ipad_poll.png

Comments (4)

Watch the First Mobile Payment Made via Starbucks Card iPhone App at Downtown Seattle Location

By Jim Bruene on September 24, 2009 4:39 PM | Comments (5)

imageJohn Cook, a Seattle tech blogger at TechFlash, was apparently the first customer to use the new Starbucks Mobile Card iPhone app to purchase coffee at the Seattle Columbia Center Starbucks. The video was posted at 3 PM yesterday. For more info on the app, see yesterday's post.

He had a little trouble getting the point-of-sale scanner to read his iPhone-app-generated barcode, but after an extra few seconds (25 seconds actually) of wiggling the phone, the transaction worked (the transaction begins at about the 1:19 mark). Hopefully, with a little practice, users will know where to place their phones in front of the scanner for easy reading. He also demonstrates a card reload after the purchase (at 3:05 mark).

Notes:
1. The myStarbucks app has moved up to number 6 in the iTunes app store, while the mobile card is at number 29 (as of 4:30 PM Pacific).
2. The mobile payments capability is live at all 16 test locations as of yesterday.

Comments (5)

Starbucks Launches First Dedicated iPhone App for Stored-Value Cards

By Jim Bruene on September 23, 2009 6:35 PM | Comments (3)

image This is a huge day, and one that I hadn't expected for at least another couple years. The convergence of mobile payments and caffeine. What more could a mobile banking geek and coffee connoisseur want? 

Starbucks pioneered stored-value cards and launched its first card in 2001. Today, it became the first company (note 1) to create an iPhone app exclusively for a payments card. Apparently, Finovate alum mFoundry helped build the app (cnet story, thanks Brandon).

Users were offered $5 extra credit on their first Starbucks card reload of $25 or more made from the new app. Registered cardholders received an email notification earlier today urging them to "turn your iPhone into a Starbucks card." (see screenshot below).

Note, the Starbucks Card Mobile app (app store link) is in addition to the regular myStarbucks app which has a store locator, coffee/drink info and a favorites-sharing function (app store link). That app also launched today (notes 2, 3). 

The app is gorgeous and shows how important design can be in creating a trustworthy and easy-to-use payment product (note 4). For example:

Home screen (left screenshot):

  • The card balance is immediately and prominently displayed

Reload screen (middle screenshot)

  • Uses big, easy-to-read buttons--remember, this is a small screen, with a giant green, full-width Continue button  
  • Current balance repeats at the top

Mobile payment screen (right screenshot)

  • The bar code for mobile point-of-sale payments (test only, see below) is rendered over a background image of the card, complete with card number, a nice touch to reassure users and Starbucks baristas that this is the real thing.

Analysis
Of course, the mobile commerce and banking community will be abuzz about the mobile payments test. At 16 Starbucks locations (8 in Seattle and 8 in Silicon Valley), iPhone users will be able to pay at the counter using a barcode generated on screen (right screenshot). Luckily, several Starbucks are within a couple miles of my home so I'll be able to report back with results as soon as the test locations are live.

But I think the stored value card management functions are more interesting for the present. Just think if you had an application that looked like this for your debit or credit card. Think of the brand-value uptick, PR notice, and word-of-mouth buzz. 

Starbucks Card Mobile screenshots (23 Sep 2009)

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Email announcing the new mobile card app (sent to a registered Starbucks cardholder in the mobile payments test market, 23 Sep 2009, 12:43 PM Pacific)

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Notes:
1. Starbucks is the first company in the U.S. to have a dedicated app for a payments card. Although unaware of any elsewhere in the world, I would expect that card apps exist, at least in Asian markets.
2. The main Starbucks app is currently the 33rd most popular free app in the store and number 1 in Lifestyle; Starbucks Card Mobile is number 46 overall and 3 in Lifestyle (6 PM Pacific).
Update (9 PM Pacific): myStarbucks has moved to number 19 and Starbucks Card Mobile to 38.
3. The Starbucks apps are huge, 6.3 MB for the regular and 3.7 MB for the card, so makes sure you have good reception or are connected via WiFi.
4. However, I have been unable to log in to my actual Starbucks account as of 7 PM Pacific, owing perhaps to overloaded servers.
5. For more info on financial institution opportunities, see our Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via iPhone.

Comments (3)

ING Direct Releases Home Loan Toolkit for the iPhone

By Jim Bruene on September 4, 2009 12:05 AM | Comments (1)

imageHave I mentioned that the iPhone is amazing? I'm not sure if it's because it's so useful having a computer in my pocket 24/7, or that it gives me so much material for Netbanker and Online Banking Report (probably the latter).

Now that we are beginning the second year of the App Store, we are starting to see some more interesting things on the finance front. For the first year it was all about tip calculators, balance inquiry, ATM locators, and manual-entry expense trackers.

This summer, we're beginning to see the bigger potential with the launch of remote check depositing from WV United Credit Union and USAA (which also loaded helpful auto insurance features into its app). And Apple's new OS 3.0, which supports push notifications, will be a boon to mobile banking apps.

But that's just the beginning. There will be an app for anything you might want to do with your finances. The latest: a free Home Loan Toolkit for prospective home buyers from ING Direct Australia. The app appeared in the U.S. App Store yesterday (here).  There's no mention of it on the bank's website yet, but Google pointed me to the well-designed microsite (here) supporting the app (screenshot below).  

It's pretty straightforward with just three functions:

  • Calculators to determine how much you can afford to borrow and what the payments would be
  • A call-me request form
  • Average home prices by area

Screenshots from ING Direct Australia's new iPhone app (3 Sep 2009)

image   image   image

 image       image 

ING Direct Australia iPhone Home Loan Toolkit microsite (link, 3 Sep 2009)
Note: The five iPhone screenshots (above) rotate through the iPhone pictured below. Alternatively, users can scroll through the screens with the control under the phone.

image

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Note: For more info on the native iPhone apps, see Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via iPhone.:

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Banking Apps in the Google Android Market vs. Apple iPhone App Store

By Jim Bruene on August 24, 2009 6:10 PM | Comments (4)

image A few weeks ago, we noted a milestone at Apple's iPhone App Store, 1000 apps available in the finance category (U.S. store). I was been curious how that compared to Google's Android Market so today I did a quick comparison.

The Android market now has a respectable 211 apps in the finance category. However, few financial institutions have staked a claim. Only, Bank of America and Alliant Credit Union, had branded apps (see note 1, 2).

In comparison, the iTunes App Store has 11 U.S. banking apps and 3 from U.S. credit unions. That's up from 6 banks and no credit unions when we published our most recent report on the subject (see note 3).  See the the following table for details. Did I miss any? Let me know in comments or email jim@netbanker.com

  Google Android (Rank) Apple App Store (Rank)
Number of finance apps 211 1,089
Number of U.S. bank-branded apps (note 1)

(number shown is rank in the finance category)
#2 Bank of America #1 Bank of America
#2 USAA
#3 Chase
#4 Wells Fargo
#10 E*Trade
#13 Citibank
#28 & 32 PNC Bank
#43 BBVA Compass
#156 IBC
#409 1st Mariner Bank ATM/Branch locator
#962 Plaza Bank Mtg Calc
Number of CU-branded apps #30 Alliant CU -- ATM Locator #185 Tech CU
#327 CUloc8 (TDECU)
#411 iDeposit (WV United FCU)

Source: Online Banking Report tally, 24 Aug 2009

1. In addition, Qualcomm's Firethorn unit has an app that works with several dozen banks and card issuers including Citi, Chase, Wachovia, SunTrust and USAA. It's ranked tenth in the Android Market and 15th in the iPhone App Store. Also, in the Android Market, Visa has a beta app that works with Chase cards ranked #77. However, according to commenters, that test is ending in September.
2. There are another 15-20 international banks listed in the iPhone App Store.
3. Our Online Banking Report on iPhone Mobile Banking was published March 11, 2009.

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1,000th iPhone Finance Application Added to Apple App Store Today

By Jim Bruene on July 30, 2009 6:23 PM | Comments

imageToday marked an Apple App Store milestone of sorts, the 1000th application available in the Finance category (USA store). Finance is less than 2% of the total store, which now stands at 63,300, according to AppShopper.com

Lucky number 1000 was Easy Mortgage (iTunes link), a $0.99 mortgage calculator from Italian developer Nexus (screenshot below).

image Four other new Finance apps debuted today, just missing the 1000 mark: 

  • #997 MLM: A multi-level marketing guide from PTAJ Marketing for $2.99
  • #998 Renting: A guide to renting a house or apartment from also from PJAT Marketing for $2.99
  • #999 Forex: A guide to foreign exchange trading again from PJAT Marketing
  • #1001 TaxTax: A $1.99 sales tax calculator from Canbuffi Web Development

Bottom line: These thousand apps are just the tip of the iceberg for the Finance category. It will likely grow to well over 10,000 during the next few years as most major banks and credit unions add their own apps to the mix. 

Currently, there are fewer than 50 financial institutions with their own dedicated app, including eight of the top 15 (most popular based on recent download volume): 1st (Bank of America), 2nd (Chase), 3rd (Wells Fargo), 4th (PayPal), 8th (E*Trade), 12th (Citibank), 13th (USAA) and 14th (multiple banks via Firethorn).    

For more info on the features and benefits of a good financial institution iPhone app, see our recent Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via iPhone (March 2009). 

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Categories: Apple, Mobile Banking, iPhone

Another reason for banks to push out a native iPhone app

By Jim Bruene on May 28, 2009 10:46 AM | Comments

imageRumors abound that Apple will super-size its iPod Touch next year with a 7- to 10-inch-screen version. VentureBeat has a compelling picture (inset), although it's not likely to be authentic.

The thinking is that this device fits nicely between the $299 iPod Touch and the $999+ MacBook with a price in the
$600- to $700-range.

The device is expected to run the iPhone OS and use the same touchscreen interface as its much-smaller siblings. That makes it the perfect in-home device for running any of the 40,000+ apps available in App Store. 

Why it's important
Because there are apps for everything, this device could become the de facto controller for key in-home systems running the television, DVR, telephone (especially if it has a built-in web cam), heating and air conditioning, plus the audio system, of course. It will also be perfect for checking the weather in the morning, the traffic on the way out the door, reading feeds, twittering, and sharing YouTube videos and photos with visitors at the kitchen table. 

And while those are the interesting uses, the Apple device will also be a convenient way to access all types of information, from Google, to ESPN, to your bank balance, all with the touch of button.

Significance for banks and credit unions
If Apple works its magic yet again, this device could end up in the living room of half the upscale households in the world.

image While this device can run a browser to access any website, the user experience is much better with a native app (see note 1). And when push notifications become available in the next OS release, it will be even better.

Note:
1. For more information on why you must build a native iPhone app for your financial institution, see our recent Online Banking Report on iPhone Mobile Banking.

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Categories: Apple, iPhone

Technology Credit Union and TDECU are first CUs with native iPhone Apps

By Jim Bruene on May 22, 2009 9:42 AM | Comments (3)

More than 10 months after the iPhone App Store launched, two U.S. credit unions have joined the application marketplace, which numbers more than 40,000 in the U.S. store alone.

The first was Texas Dow Employees Credit Union (TDECU), whose ATM and shared-branch locator, Culoc8, launched on April 29, according to the company's Twitter page (below, link). image

image

The TDECU app (see inset) is unbranded and can be offered by other CUs to their members. 

Eaton Family Credit Union is offering CuLoc8 to members on its website (see below).

image

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image Yesterday, Tech CU, became the first credit union with a full-featured branded native iPhone app (App Store link, see note 1). The app (see below) includes full online banking functionality and an ATM/shared branch finder (second screenshot). The credit union also added something we haven't seen yet, an iPhone optimized feed of its blog, Money Savvy (third screenshot). Nice touch.

Tech CU has offered a mobile website since Sept. 2007. 

image    image   image

Note:
1. America First Credit Union was the first CU with native iPhone support via its participation in Firethorn's shared mobile banking app which launched in Nov. 2008.

Comments (3)

Apple iPhone Print Advertisements Feature Personal Finance Apps

By Jim Bruene on April 16, 2009 5:06 PM | Comments

image_thumb8Apple must be one of the more lucrative advertisers these days at the Wall Street Journal. Apple has bought the back page more times than I can count to show off the iPhone and more-importantly, the diversity of applications available (see inset, note 1).

Lately, Apple has run "theme" ads showing applications related to a single category. Last week (Thurs, 9 April), the back of the A section showed personal finance apps (see left column below). Yesterday, the apps all supported small business and ran on the back of Marketplace (B) section (see right column below).

The only app to make both lists: personal finance superstar, Mint, which even scored top billing in the personal finance page, occupying the upper-left corner, where it's blurb would likely score the highest readership. 

The Apple website also has themed app guides. The managing money page (see screenshot below) features again features Mint, which gets the biggest graphic, Bank of America, who's app was featured in dozens of Apple ads in 2008 and earlier this year, Bloomberg, Gas Cubby, iXpenseIt, Save Benjis, and Home Finder.

Bottom line: Financial institutions should think about how to add similar money management functionality to their mobile and online offers. As Aite's Ron Shevlin pointed out in a comment here last week (emphasis added):

.....(the FinovateStartup participants) you talk about are helping people manage their financial lives, while the banks are [still] focused on helping people manage their financial accounts.

Big difference.

Table: iPhone apps listed in recent WSJ ads (clockwise from upper left)

Personal Finance Theme Small Business Theme
Helping you stretch your budget, one app at a time. Helping you run your small business, one app at a time.
Date: 9 April 2009 Date: 15 April 2009
Mint.com (PFM) Credit card terminal
Gas Cubby (mileage tracker) Print & share (document management)
Spotasaurus (parking finder) FedEx Mobile
RepairPal (mechanic finder) Jott (voice recording/transcription)
AllRecipes.com (recipe finder) iXpenseIt (expense report mgmt)
GoodGuide (product finder) Jobs - Time Tracking
WootWatch (cheap gadgets) Analytics App (website analytics)
Save Benjis (shopping comparison) LinkedIn
RN Dining (rewards dining) LogMeIn (remote computer access)
Find an Apartment YellowPages.com
Cellfire (mobile coupons) Mint.com
Barista (how to guide) Quicksheet (spreadsheet)
Wi-Fi finder Air Sharing (file manager)
CompareMe (price calculator) Nomina (name/trademark search)
Loan Shark (loan tool) SimpleMind Xpress (brainstorming)
Small Spend (mini PFM) Keynote Remote (presentation tool)

Apple's Money Management page on its Website (link, 16 Apr 2009)

image_thumb1

Notes:
1. My apologies for the image quality, taken via iPhone naturally.
2. For more info, see our latest Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via iPhone.

Comments

New Features in iPhone OS 3.0 will Help Banking Apps

By Jim Bruene on April 2, 2009 6:02 PM | Comments

imageApple's new iPhone operating system was announced last week. There are more than 100 new features that will make the phone even more valuable plus 1,000 new APIs to keep developers innovating like mad. The new OS will be available "this summer."

Most changes are relatively minor, but two are significant for online banking and personal finance apps:

    image

  • Push notifications: Apple currently offers this feature only on its built-in email and SMS application (see screenshot below). But with OS 3.0, application developers can push notifications to the iPhone without the app being launched. For banks, that means you can show users when a new transaction, message, or alert is available to view.
  • imageIn-app purchases: This is probably less important for financial institutions who generally don't charge transaction fees for mobile or online services. However, non-bank financial apps can now charge transaction fees for value-added services such as an expedited payment or a credit score. The transactions are processed via Apple so now customers needn't provide the app developer their credit card number.

imageBottom line: We believe every financial institution large enough to offer online banking should support the iPhone platform. With OS 3.0, it's even more important to be in the App Store. For more information, see the latest Online Banking Report on Mobile 3.0 -- iPhone Edition (see announcement post).

 

 

 

 

iPhone home screen (30 March 2009) >>>
Here's my main iPhone screen showing push alerts (clockwise) for new text messages (11), new emails (196), voice mails (6), and application updates (2).

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Categories: Apple, Mobile Banking, iPhone

PNC Bank Launches iPhone Mobile Banking in Apple App Store

By Jim Bruene on February 12, 2009 4:42 PM | Comments (3)

image You'd think that seven months after Apple launched the App Store for the iPhone, it would no longer be news when a U.S. bank adds an application to the store.

It's not like a cost-prohibitive slotting fee is involved. Developers pay Apple exactly zero dollars to be listed in the store (note 1). Apple's revenue is from the 30% share of any fees charged for an app. All the bank apps are free, so that's not an issue.

But it is news since the addition of PNC Bank two weeks age (app here) brings the grand total of bank-specific apps to four, five if you count PayPal. Even if you include the several dozen banks supported by Firethorn's multi-bank app, there are still no more than 40 banks supported (note 2). And there's not a single credit union, yet. 

Here are the five App Store participants in order of their appearance:

Wells Fargo has an iPhone app, but it's not yet shown up in the official App Store.

PNC mobile banking app
PNC's entry is a full-featured app powered by mFoundry. Along with balance and transaction activity, it includes bill pay, funds transfer, and an ATM finder with location-based capabilities. Users must enable mobile banking from within online banking in order to use the app.

The app has risen from number 17 in the Finance category a week ago to 13 today (note 3). However, the app has not yet made it to the PNC website (note 4).

PNC iPhone App screenshots (11 Feb 2009)

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Notes:
1. The app does need to be approved by Apple, a process that can take weeks or longer.
2. Users can also track thousands of financial institutions through Mint or PageOnce.
3. Bank of America is #1, Chase is #4, PayPal is #5, Mint is #6, Firethorn is #9.
4. A PNC.com site search for "iphone" yielded just one result, an iphone listed in a mobile banking compatibility table. (Off topic: Note to PNC Bank, your site search doesn't function in Firefox 3.0).
5. For more information on the market, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking and the latest forecast in last month's Online Banking Report Online & Mobile Forecast.

Comments (3)

Chase Bank, Mint Top the Charts with New iPhone Apps

By Jim Bruene on December 22, 2008 10:17 AM | Comments (1)

imageimage No one knows for sure how Apple compiles the list of its top-selling iPhone apps, but it's related to how many are sold during the past few hours. I've seen speculation that the measurement period is 2 hours (see note 1).

But there is no doubt about the benefits of rising to the top. The winner receives prime exposure in the iTunes Store and on the iPhone itself (see screenshots below).

I've checked the Finance category rankings dozens of times since the store opened in July, and the top app had always been Bloomberg with Bank of America usually the runnerup.

But Friday, a new top seller emerged in the Free list in the Finance category (note 2), Chase Mobile  while Bloomberg and BofA were each knocked down a spot to numbers 2 and 3. The Chase app was released just one week ago (12 Dec). But by Saturday morning (20 Dec), Chase had already been replaced at the top by online personal finance startup Mint, which released its iPhone app Monday (15 Dec), but it didn't show up in the iTunes store until 1 AM Friday.  Mint stayed at the top all weekend and is still number one now (10 AM Pacific, 22 Dec).

imageIn the screenshot below and right, you can see the free publicity derived from holding the top spot. Also, note that you should put your name into the application. Bank of America, ranked number 3, neglected to include its name in the title, so it loses some branding value. Although, they would have to use BofA to fit into the space.  

Chase App (link to iphone App)
The Chase app itself is attractive and is similar to Bank of America's with a login button to the website and an ATM/branch-finder utility. As of this evening, 64 reviews have been posted with an average 3.5-star rating out of five, slightly better than the 3-star rating of Bank of America's iPhone app with similar features.

Mint App (link to iPhone app)
As expected from a company that is carefully using design to help distinguish it from the pack, Mint's new app is great looking. Across all aggregated accounts, the mobile app shows account balances, transactions, and progress towards budget goals. A nifty alerts icon on the bottom provides a convenient way for users to keep tabs on important info on the go.

Another difference from most banking apps: Mint lets users choose whether they want password protection enabled after their initial login. If you choose to log out, then the app erases all data in memory, and you must log back in next time. If you choose not to log out, then your data remains visible until the next visit with no login required (note 4). This is a great convenience, but something that may not be allowed at regulated financial institutions.

Some users have reported trouble with the app on older phones. On my first-generation iPhone running version 2.1 software, the Mint app wouldn't download. But once I upgraded the iPhone software to version 2.2, it downloaded flawlessly and all functions worked perfectly. In Mint's forum, some users were reporting problems with the Budget feature, but it seems to work fine for me (forum thread) (note 3).

Top Apps in the finance category of iTunes' App Store
(7 PM Pacific, 19 Dec 2008) 

image

 Top free finance apps list displayed on iPhone:
          at 7 PM Pacific, Fri. Dec. 19                               at  2 PM Pacific, Sat. Dec. 20  image        image

Chase Mobile iPhone app                    Mint iPhone app main screen
main screen
(19 Dec 2009)                          (19 Dec 2009)

image       image

Notes:
1. That 2-hour window could be about right. When I made this screenshot, the new Mint app was at number 10; two hours later (9 PM) it had risen to number 5 (see screenshot above). By 9 AM Saturday morning (20 Dec) it had risen to number 1.

2. The App Store divides the top apps into two categories, free and paid. The top 20 free apps are listed on the right side and the top 20 paid apps are listed on the left. The apps in the middle are listed by newest first.

3. These operating system incompatibilities, a real problem in pre-1995 online banking services, had largely been left behind when banks embraced the Web in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately, mobile banking will add to your tech-support costs. 

4. Mint also reminds users that they can choose to lock their entire iPhone for extra security.

5. For more info on the market, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking

Comments (1)

Moneytrackin' is First Major Online Personal Finance Management App to Make it Into the Apple App Store

By Jim Bruene on September 30, 2008 8:05 PM | Comments (2)

image I'm certain most major PFM providers will have an iPhone app within the next six to 12 months. It's a valuable product extension from a functionality standpoint (see note 1). Even more important are the marketing benefits from blogger/press coverage and the App Store listing itself. 

Mint posted a blog entry last week reviewing ten iPhone finance apps. The post drew two dozen comments, most asking when a Mint app would be released for the iPhone. Mint Product VP Aaron Forth replied, "We are busy working on one now."

Most of the better-funded PFM companies are likely working on an iPhone app, but the approval process at Apple can easily take a month or more (one developer's story is chronicled here). So we expect to see them trickle out over the coming months.

Moneytrackin iphone app for personal finance management 30 Sep 2008 The first established online PFM to make it into the iPhone App Store is Moneytrakin', the Barcelona, Spain-based multi-language, multi-currency PFM (note 2). We covered its launch more than two years ago (here).

The company recently announced it had surpassed 5 million transactions tracked. Assuming 250 per customer, that's 20,000 active users. According to Compete, U.S. website traffic averages 1,000 to 2,000 per month. But many (most?) of Moneytrackin's customers are outside the United States.

The Moneytrackin' program, released on Sept. 19, is currently the seventh most popular app in the Finance category.

Notes:
1. For more information, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.

2. There are at least a dozen check registers and mini PFMs in the App Store, but none are from established online PFM providers. The only exception is iBuxfer, which claims to work with Buxfer using its API, but was not developed by the company. And in fact, according to the comments in the App Store, may be violating Buxfer's terms of service. All the more reason to get your own app into the store before someone else does.

Comments (2)

Will eWallets Make a Comeback on the iPhone?

By Jim Bruene on September 2, 2008 12:29 PM | Comments (4)

image Since the July opening of Apple's App Store, we've been tracking the apps in the Finance category (see previous coverage here). But there are also several apps in the Productivity category of interest to financial institutions: the eWallets.

Ilium's eWallet for iPhoneThere are two wallets available in the U.S. iTunes store:

  • eWallet from Ilium Software: #46 in popularity in Productivity with a cost of $9.95 and rated 3.5 stars (out of 5) across 143 reviews (see inset)
  • Memengo Wallet: #48 in Productivity with a $0.99 cost and rated 4 stars across 43 reviews (website)

Web-based eWallets never took off because of security concerns and because they provided only marginal improvements in desktop productivity. However, a mobile version has more utility owing to sticky notes with password reminders and credit card info, helpful to users away from their desks.

How it works
Storage of usernames and passwords for websites is the primary use of eWallet, but it also has a Finance category (see inset above) where users can store credit card numbers and contact info (see screenshots below).

That info is helpful when using a card to make a purchase online or through the mobile phone. It's also a great place to store the info in case the card itself is lost or stolen.

Financial institution opportunities
While these apps haven't gained an overwhelming following, a financial institution could offer a free version that highlights its own card offerings while providing storage space for other card numbers. That way, you get your logo on the iPhone instead of Mint, Wesabe, or some other financial institution. 

The bank-branded eWallet could also include a financial calculator and direct connection to online banking.

Ilium iPhone eWallet showing credit card info    eWallet showing credit card detail

 Note:
1. For more info see our Online Banking Repot on Mobile Money & Payments.

Comments (4)

First Sales Report on an iPhone Finance App: Tipulator Downloaded 3,200 Times

By Jim Bruene on August 15, 2008 5:13 PM | Comments

imageAccording to TechCrunch, the $0.99 tip calculator app from TapTapTap has been downloaded 3,200 times in the month it's been available. Net income to the developer, after Apple takes its 30% cut, is $2,200.

TapTapTap also markets a much more sophisticated location-based search tool that has generated $50,000 in revenues for the developer.

Tipulator is ranked number 20 in our Aug. 5 rundown of the top-20 banking and finance apps. Today it ranked number 27.

Apple ranks the most popular apps within each category, but does not provide download totals. Tipulator numbers were provided by developer.

What it means
1. iPhone users, so far, are willing to pay for apps. Who would have thought that more than 3,000 people would go to the trouble to download an app to help them multiply their bill times 15% to 20%? And there are two tip calculators that ranked higher in the App Store.

2. There is real demand for mobile financial tools, even very simple ones. Financial institutions should consider launching a branded calculator app in the Apple App Store.

Comments

Top 20 Finance & Banking Apps in Apple's App Store

By Jim Bruene on August 5, 2008 4:40 PM | Comments (2)

image It's been almost a month since Apple launched its App Store for native iPhone apps. According to the company, 25 million have been downloaded, an impressive one-million-per-day pace (11 Aug update: The company reported 60 million downloads, with $30 million in sales, during the first 30 days.)

Luckily for banking geeks, Apple added a Finance category (see screenshot below), so it's easier to track what's popular in our sector. As of early today, a total of 42 finance apps were listed. The 20 most popular were (note 1): 

Rank Name Type Price Release* Rating** Num***
1 Bloomberg News Free 16 July 4 337
2 CheckPlease Tool to split dinner bills Free 31 July 3 77
3 Mobile Banking (BofA) Banking Free 4 July 2.5 323
4 PayPal Payments Free 1 July 2 85
5 Balance Expense register Free 30 July 4.5 41
6 Puluwai Real Estate Search Real estate Free 20 Jun 3.5 38
7 3in1 Mortgage Calc Calculator Free 30 Jul 3.5 7
8 TipCalc Tip calculator Free 19 Jul 3.5 6
9 TipTap Tip calculator $0.99 1 Aug 4 30
10 Budget Personal finance mgr $1.99 24 Jul 3.5 37
11 MyAccounts to Go View accounting info Free 15 Jul 2.5 16
12 Swissquote Stock quotes Free 17 Jul 3 2
13 LoanCalc Calculator $0.99 26 Jul 3 18
14 Mortgage Payment Calc Calculator $0.99 2 Aug 3 9
15 Day Bank Expense register $3.99 14 Jul 3.5 64
16 SplashMoney Banking & PFM (note 2) $9.99 24 Jul 3 84
17 iXpenselt Expense register $4.99 9 Jul 3.5 52
18 PocketMoney Personal finance mgr $9.99 1 Aug 3 55
19 LoanShark Calculator $4.99 30 Jul 4.5 5
20 Tipulator Tip calc $0.99 30 Jul 4 33

Source: Netbanker/Online Banking Report analysis of Apple App Store data, 5 Aug 2008
PFM = Personal financial management
Bank of America iphone app (5 Aug 2008)*Release date of latest version; there may have been previous versions released earlier; currently reviews carry over from previous versions
**Average user rating on 1-to-5 point scale
***Number of user reviews posted

 What's notable:

  • Nine apps have a download fee ranging from $0.99 to $9.99
  • Only four have a user-rating of 4.0 or better (on a five-point scale): Balance (4.5), Bloomberg (4.0), LoanShark (4.5) and TipTap (4.0)
  • Three apps, including two of the most popular, are rated below 3.0: BofA (2.5), PayPal (2.0) and MyAccounts to Go (2.5)
  • The most-reviewed apps are Bloomberg (337 user reviews) and BofA's mobile banking (323) (see previous coverage)

What's innovative:
I haven't used any of the apps yet, but from reading the descriptions, there's not much new here (notes 3, 4). The apps fall into four main categories:

  • Tip calculators
  • Other financial calculators such as loan payments
  • Expense/check registers
  • Personal finance tracking apps

Even though these functions aren't very advanced, the ability to access them easily from your mobile phone makes them more interesting. And banks looking to create a useful iPhone app should take note. BofA was criticized in early user reviews for posting little more than a landing page for its normal mobile banking screen (see screenshot above).

Financial institutions would likely find a more receptive audience if a couple useful functions were added to the application besides an online banking login screen. It would be relatively trivial to add an expense register, tip calculator and other calculator functions to the banking app. 

Apple App Store Finance category (5 Aug 2008)

Notes:
1. Apple does not provide any metrics on how many times the apps have been downloaded. It just lists them in rank order.

2. Download transactions from more than 200 financial institutions supporting Intuit's DirectConnect

3. The most interesting app is SplashMoney's account aggregation app that allows you to download transactions from more than 200 financial institutions that support Intuit's Direct Connect.

4. See our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking for more info.

Comments (2)

Kiwibank Uses iPhone Launch to Spark Interest in Mobile Banking

By Jim Bruene on July 12, 2008 9:46 AM | Comments (2)

image Kiwibank has one of the most eye-catching homepage designs in the world.  Who can resist a lime green Smart Car with four monstrous speakers strapped to the roof?

As I was obsessing about iPhone apps this week (see note 1), I ran across Kiwibank's landing page for iPhone banking (see second screenshot below). Now that the iPhone has gone global, we'll see if more banks leverage the iPhone hype, something that didn't really happen in the United States so much. According to CNet Australia, ANZ is building an iPhone-specific interface, but a search of the ANZ website found nothing.

Kiwibank's homepage iPhone promo, one of three rotating in the lower right, leads to the not-so-exciting landing page. Still, when you are riding the hype, you don't necessarily have to put that much effort into your own work (see note 2), just grab ahold of Apple's coattails and hang on tight.

Kiwibank homepage featuring iPhone promo (11 July 2008)

Kiwi Bank hompage with iPhone banking ad (11 July 2008)

Kiwi Bank iPhone banking landing page (11 July 2008)

image

Notes:
1. Yesterday, I promised it was my last iPhone post for a while, but I couldn't resist one more. Consider it a Saturday bonus post.

2. Case-in-point, the BofA non-app app being dissed by the vast majority of early-early-adopter reviewers at the Apple App Store (see yesterday's post).

Comments (2)

Bank of America iPhone Mobile Banking App Criticized in Early-User Reviews

By Jim Bruene on July 11, 2008 11:58 AM | Comments (2)

image The good news: Of the 135 free applications in the new iTunes App Store, Bank of America's is a solid number 20, three spots ahead of PayPal, according to rankings within iTunes this morning.

The bad news: The first batch of reviewers hated the app. Their main complaint: It's not really a native app, just a front door to the bank's existing mobile site.

The reviews: On a 5-star scale with one star the lowest choice, the app has only a 1.5-star rating (see note 1). Of the 81 reviews, only 19 rated it above one star. Throwing out the five 5-star ratings which are probably from people associated with the product, that leaves only 14 above the bottom rating, an abysmal score by any standard. Following is the breakdown:

Stars Number of Votes                            My Comments
*****             5 I'm skeptical of the objectivity of these reviews
  ****              0 Other than the suspect 5-star fans above, no one was willing to go 4 stars
   ***               6 Only six legit users were even OK with the app
    **             8 Most of these were critical in their comments
     *                62 one star is the lowest choice on the review form

Source: Online Banking Report review of iTunes data, 11AM PST, 11 July 2008

What's innovative?
1. I was astounded to see 81 reviews in the App Store already. It just opened this morning! It should be noted that you don't have to actually download the app to post a review. So if and when you post an app here, be prepared for criticism. Even more important, this demonstrates the impact the user voice will have going forward (see note 2).

2. Early adopters, especially techies, can be brutally honest, especially with large corporate efforts deemed lame. But even though the overall grade was very poor, a number of reviewers pointed out that the automatic ATM locator was a significant improvement.

3. BofA needs to upgrade this app ASAP. Some of the criticisms about font size and design can be fixed relatively easily.

Summary
Despite the harsh criticism from the first batch of reviewers, I think BofA did the right thing strategically. It's too bad they didn't have something a little flashier, but the bank will get far more mileage by being the first bank in the App Store that it will lose by disappointing the mobile early adopters. It's unlikely they will lose any business from the negative reviews. They are mostly in the "you should have done better" category, not the "BofA sucks" variety.

You have only one chance to be first, and BofA took it. No one else will ever be able to say they were the first bank in the iPhone (who's going to be the first credit union?). But the bank better get cracking on version 2.0! (see note 3)

Notes:
1. The only other app from a financial services company was Paypal, which mustered a meager 2-star rating. But it elicited only one-sixth the number of reviewers, just 13. Because you don't have to actually download the app to post a review, BofA may be getting slammed by people just reading the reviews and jumping on the bandwagon with me-too critiques.

2. See our latest Online Banking Report for more on the growing importance of user reviews. We've also published reports on Mobile Banking and Mobile Payments.

3. This post marks the end of iPhone week at Netbanker. We'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

Comments (2)

Bank of America and PayPal are Only Financial Brands in Apple's App Store at Launch

By Jim Bruene on July 10, 2008 12:43 PM | Comments

Bank of America once again proved its mobile mettle as the only financial institution to have a native app available at the launch of Apple's new App Store (note 1). PayPal also launched an app on Day 1 (see screenshot below). Both are free.

Bank of America iPhone 2.0 App in Apple App Store in iTunes (10 July 2008)

Bank of America iPhone native app in iTunes App Store (10 July 2008)

Apple launched the store today within iTunes (see note 1). There are 552 apps at launch according to Pinch Media, Here's the price breakdown:

  • Free - 135
  • $0.99 - 85
  • $1.99 to $3.99 - 110*
  • $4.99 - 62
  • $5.99 to $8.99 - 35*
  • $9.99 - 82
  • more than $10 - 40*

The new Finance category in the App Store has 23 entries at launch. Most are small utilities for calculating tips or splitting the dinner check. Only two recognizable brands are available, PayPal (lower left) and Bank of America, which by design or omission, is listed not with its name but as simply "mobile banking."

Finance listings in Apple App Store in iTune 7.7 (10 July 2008)

23 Finance apps in Apple's App Store (10 July 2008)

 

PayPal App (10 July 2008)

PayPal app in iTunes Apple App Store (10 July 2008)

Notes:

*Interpolated from graph, plus or minus 3%

1. To view the App Store, download iTunes v. 7.7. Some users including myself (Windows bug?) have reported not being able to see it even after updating iTunes. I was able to access through this link published by TechCrunch.

Comments

USAA and Provident Bank Post iPhone Web Apps in Apple's Directory

By Jim Bruene on July 9, 2008 10:02 AM | Comments

USAA iPhone mobile banking app (July 2008) It took almost six months, but Bank of America finally has company in Apple's iPhone Web App Directory (see note 1).

USAA posted its iPhone-optimized Web app on July 2 (here). USAA's browser-based app can be used by anyone with online access to their USAA accounts
(see note 2).

The resolution in the screenshot (right) is not great, but you can see the bank is using large iPhone-like icons to navigate to the main functions:

  • Balance/transaction inquiry
  • Funds transfer
  • Bill payment
  • Stock trading
  • Order auto insurance cards

Provident Bank added its mShift-powered solution to the Apple directory June 11. Users are able to perform all typical online banking functions: balance/transaction inquiry,image transfer funds, and pay bills. Its pedestrian format (see below) is clearly built to work across many different mobile devices. The small links would be harder to navigate on an iPhone compared to USAA's icons.

See previous iPhone banking coverage here.

Notes:
1. BofA was first in the United States. Germany's Postbank was the first bank in the world in the app directory, beating BofA by a few weeks last fall.

2. These are mobile browser-based solutions optimized for the iPhone. They are NOT native apps running on the iPhone OS, soon to be featured in Apple's App Store (see previous post).

Comments
Categories: Apple, Mobile Banking, USAA, iPhone

Put Your Bank in Apple's iPhone 3G App Store

By Jim Bruene on June 10, 2008 5:49 PM | Comments (3)

I've written about how the iPhone could change the way consumers use mobile phones to access data (see note 1). But this slide from the Steve Jobs keynote yesterday at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), says it much better:

Steve Jobs keynote slide showing iPhone advanced feature usage

In case you can't read the slide, it says that 98% of iPhone users use the built-in Safari browser, 94% use email and 90% use text messaging. That's an amazing level of usage for what used to be considered "advanced" smartphone features. So far, the impact on ecommerce companies has been relatively small, with just 6 million users worldwide. But with Apple dropping the price by 50% to $199, there will soon be 10, 20, or 30 million Americans connecting to the Web via iPhone. If 90%+ use the browser and messaging, it will have a major impact in online/mobile banking usage.

New App Store
imageAnd to help those millions of new users find useful things to do on their phone, Apple is building a new App Store, accessible directly from the main deck of the iPhone once users download the 2.0 software in July. The App Store will include thousands of applications optimized for the iPhone that can be downloaded over the air.

Quickbooks on iphoneSome will have a cost, with the developer keeping 70% of the revenue, but most are expected to be free. Since there is NO COST to list your app in Apple's App Store (see update below), financial services companies should rush to get their app loaded as close to the July 11 launch date as possible.

So far, only two banks, Bank of America and Germany's Postbank, have included their apps in the current online applications directory (here). A number of other financial apps are listed including Wesabe, Buxfer, and the latest, QuickBooks from Intuit (see inset right and screenshots below). Expect many more in the months and years to come.

Update 11 June: Important clarification from commenter "gerontius" (number 3 below). The current app directory includes webpages optimized for the iPhone. The new App Directory will include "native" apps that run directly on the iPhone operating system. That makes the bar quite a bit higher, depending on what you want to do. 

 

Bank of America Bank of America on iphone   Buxfer Buxfer on iphone 

myBudget myBudget on iphone       Postbank Postbank ibanking on iphone

 

Wesabe Wesabe on iphone          Yodlee  Yodlee on iphone


Note:

1. For more info, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking

Comments (3)

Put Your Bank on the iPhone Main Screen

By Jim Bruene on January 16, 2008 10:07 PM | Comments (8)

imageYou don't have to be Google, NBC or Steve Jobs's cousin to get your logo placed on one of the most coveted pieces of real estate on the planet, the main screen of Apple's iPhone. Now anyone can do it for about the cost of phone service for a month. 

When we first wrote about the iPhone a year ago (here), we created a fake picture of it with a Wells Fargo logo superimposed on the main screen (see inset). At that time, we would never have guessed that a year later Apple would enable any website to create an iPhone main screen icon by simply dropping a line of code into their website. 

It's as simple as creating favicons, those little symbols that appear next to your URL in the browser address bar. Here's a simple 25-word explanation of how to do it. For more info, consult the Apple iPhone Dev Center here.

Once you have the code installed, users with updated iPhone software will be able to install your icon by navigating to your page, clicking on the plus button at the bottom of the screen, and selecting "Add to Home Screen."

Comments (8)

Mobile Banking Security and Antivirus Protection

By Brandon McGee on September 6, 2007 4:43 PM | Comments (1)

MyMobiSafe.jpg

Last week, we received a tremendous comment/question from one of our readers, an officer in the risk-management department at a very large U.S. financial institution. His question, “I may have overlooked it, but did not see too much discussion around mobile banking fraud threats, such as mobile malware and smishing. Are these threats real? If so, what controls are financial institutions putting in place to mitigate these risks? Are there other mobile banking risks on the horizon?” 

That's a great question. Yes, threats of malware are real, and I expect to see the number of attacks grow exponentially greater over the next 18 months. However, so far only a handful of attacks have been recorded. See Wikipedia for a listing of mobile viruses.

The next question, “What controls are financial institutions putting in place?” The majority of financial institutions with mobile banking are using a vendor product; therefore, they are relying on the tools built in to the solution. In my previous entry on the subject (see Mobile Banking), I explained that after reviewing solutions from numerous vendors I believed they all had done a top-notch job making information security the number one priority. So, unless you are going to follow Bank of America and Wells Fargo down the path of an in-house WAP solution, you should find that the vendor has already addressed the issue on your behalf (see note 1).

That said, there is one HUGE security risk not receiving the attention it deserves and that is – THE CUSTOMER. As with online banking, the most critical element in reducing fraud is to simply educate the customer. Education can take a number of forms, including awareness campaigns, security checklists, recommended settings, and providing examples of how other clients have been deceived.

One good resource is the Microsoft page:  

Help avoid computer viruses that spread over mobile devices

Also, there are a number of companies already providing mobile antivirus security software including (note 2):

Bullgard
MyMobiSafe
Symantec
UMU
AirScanner
Kaspersky
F-Secure
Trend Micro

And as my Apple friends already know, the iPhone utilizes the OS X platform. While there is no guarantee, the accepted belief is that viruses are not an issue for Apple and that security software is not needed (note 1).

I hope this provides a better understanding of the mobile security environment. I encourage others to comment or send questions.

Brandon McGee is vice president and senior product manager at The Huntington National Bank. He is not only the real deal, a genuine industry insider, but also knows exactly what's on the minds of financial service pros as they contemplate the various mobile options. For more great content, check out his blog, Mobile Banking.

Notes:
(1) This is an opinion and not an implied guarantee of security or performance.
(2) This is in no way an endorsement of the product(s) or guarantee of performance. These were the top search results for the keywords “mobile antivirus security.”

 

 

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