2020 was definitely a fascinating year for mobile apps in general. The COVID-19 pandemic led to unexpected and often unprecedented growth in many mobile app market segments, such as in video streaming apps, for example. Many service providers are trying to adapt to the new reality and this urge can be observed among financial service companies as well.
This major health crisis and its natural consequence, the global lockdown, has led many banks, brokers, investment offices, and other financial institutions to close their doors and take their work remotely. And all these sudden changes forced by the pandemic did not exclude personal finance management.
What is Personal Finance?
Well, it is basically your money management. Not only in terms of joyfully spending it but also savings and investments. It includes budgeting, banking, insurance, mortgages, investments, retirement planning, and tax and estate planning.
The term often refers to the entire industry which provides financial services to individuals and households and advises them on financial and investment opportunities.
Until recently, handling important personal financial matters was almost exclusively associated with face-to-face interactions. Money matters are the sort of thing we want to handle in person. But the limitations of in-person contact and communication due to the lockdown restrictions caused major changes in our behavior and habits.
And this made personal finance apps ever more important in providing these types of services.
How can I use mobile apps for personal finance?
According to the AppsFlyer report, financial apps witnessed up to a 90% increase in the install market share. There are at least three main drivers of this increase in user interest:
- The need for contactless payments – in the COVID era users are far less likely to exchange physical money which has been held (and sneezed on) by hundreds of people.
- The need for short-term loans – with a multitude of loans available via apps and the COVID-induced financial crisis, users have shifted toward the quick cash lent via apps.
- The need to control bank accounts in the real-time – last but not least, the pandemic has delivered a heavy blow in the pockets of thousands of people worldwide. The vision of hard times approaching has encouraged people to control their bank accounts on a daily basis.
Even those of us who have thus far been reluctant to trust the paying of bills via mobile app, issue any other form of digital payment, or even use digital banking: we have been forced to trust in technology as far as financial management is concerned.
The Finance App Market is Evolving
From mobile banking apps and payment systems to simple contactless money exchange via solutions like Cash App, even on to handling personal capital or investment apps – financial apps have seen use much more often and this has been reflected in their market share.
And will, furthermore, likely provide fertile ground for the innovation of traditional players and for the rise of mobile-first competitors.
The users who are in demand of fintech solutions represent a certain mix of attitudes towards finance management. With the mobile-first behavioral shift, we might be able to see the reason why finance apps topped the charts as the second-largest category in sheer number of available apps and sixth largest in terms of total installs.
The final share of finance app installs in the overall app install pie already saw an increase of 25% between 2018 and 2019. But this is 2020 we’re talking about, aka the “COVID year” that brought on a significant increase in install market shares.
In 2018, the average consumer would likely not walk into a bank branch once a day, but on mobile, they began engaging with the bank virtually every day. In 2020 the interest in mobile banking apps jumped again thanks to an unexpected factor: it was not a matter of convenience anymore, but also safety.
According to the State of Mobile report by AppAnnie, time spent on finance apps was up 45% worldwide outside of China in 2020 YoY. Consumers embraced the personal finance software solutions in record numbers. For example, the number of global iPhone users who activated Apple Pay grew by more than 65 million people in 2020.
Most Promising Personal Finance App Categories
Managing finances used to be associated with only one destination: the bank. It was the institution for everything: having a savings account, tracking spending, making investments, or choosing a debit card. Now various financial services are being provided by the competitive market of finance apps dedicated to answering different customer needs with the addition of a friendly user experience.
The pandemic limited physical banking raised safety fears around the cash exchange and also drew people’s interest in the stock market’s movements. No wonder then that mobile payment apps, mobile wallets, and trading apps captured the most attention among fintech and personal finance software developers.
COVID accelerated customer preference especially towards mobile banking and digital wallets. The pandemic made a lot of people afraid of using cash. This resulted in a great change in consumer behavior, who switched to contactless payment apps – as did the retailers.
According to a study by VISA, all markets have seen a rapid adoption of new payment technologies and changes in consumer behavior related to commerce. And it is said that payments via mobile device are here to stay.
In addition, investment and trading apps have performed particularly well in 2020. Due to the lockdown, mobile stock and trading apps became the channel of participation in the stock market. This may indicate a powerful shift for the future of both financial and mobile development thinking.
The common democratization and empowerment of “everyday traders” is quite likely to result in new trends in app development.
Examples of the Best Finance Apps of 2020
Finance apps are now in high demand and are becoming an important part of many financial decision-making processes for consumers. From research, investment, and budget monitoring to trading – there are plenty of paid and free finance apps available on the market. Taking into account the growth of interest in managing finances via mobile and time spent on finance apps in 2020, we can expect more of these mobile products in different categories.
At the moment, among the top finance apps in the US in terms of time spent in 2020 are:
- Cash App – for the contactless sharing and receiving of money
- TD Ameritrade – for mobile stock trading
- Yahoo Finance – for live stock market tracking
- Robinhood – for stock trading and investments
The global migration of consumer financial activities into mobile and finance app usage in 2020 can definitely be named a trend.
This trend is very likely not only to thrive but to accelerate. We can expect that digital-only tools for financial services will become the new normal. And this may well result in a lot of post-crisis winners in the fintech sector.