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Banking and FinTech apps have changed the way that people spend and save money across developed and developing economies. A recent report by App Annie explores the value of these changes between 2016 and 2018 – and explores the impact of innovation on user loyalty.

Banking and FinTech apps are a global phenomenon

Global downloads of banking and FinTech apps have grown by 75% to reach 3.4 billion in 2018 – and analysts typically predict huge growth across both developed and developing economies, as technologies evolve to disrupt traditional banking institutions.

‘Challenger Banks’ and FinTech apps in the UK – like Monzo, Starling, and Revolut – have leveraged a combination of startup-friendly legislation and scalable cloud computing infrastructure technologies (Eg. Amazon Web Services) to grow rapidly.

How are UK ‘digital banks’ performing (according to Accenture)?

  • On-track to triple their customer base within 12 months, to over 35m people.
  • Average customer deposit increased from £70 to £350 in the first half of 2019.
  • Average operating cost of £20 – £50 per customer – compared to over £170 for traditional banks.

However, FinTech growth isn’t limited to technologically-advanced Western markets. Users in emerging economies who lack access to traditional banks arguably have even more incentive to explore mobile alternatives – and that’s reflected in their explosive growth.

Emerging markets lead banking and FinTech app downloads

Emerging markets lead the pack in terms of downloads for banking and FinTech apps – with Brazil, India, and Indonesia experiencing the strongest growth.


Indonesia clocked 400% growth between 2016 and 2018, with a reported increase in native FinTech companies from 50 to 167 over the same period – enabled by high levels of mobile device penetration, a population of 260 million people (most under 35), and healthy GDP growth.


One-third of the world’s population are ‘unbanked’ – adults who make little or no use of banking facilities. Accenture estimates that unbanked people represent around $380 billion in new revenue for banks – and suggest that mobile financial services could be the most powerful tool for improving ease of access.

However, while the majority of unbanked people are in emerging markets, 25% of US households are unbanked or underbanked – according to a 2017 survey by the FDIC.

Innovative banking and FinTech apps are ‘sticky’

An app’s ‘stickiness’ could be defined as ‘retention + engagement’. But however you choose to measure stickiness and monetize your app, it seems obvious that getting users to regularly open and spend time in your app will increase your opportunities to generate revenue

Innovative banking and Fintech apps get opened daily

Challenger banks are managing to innovate quickly while keeping data secure – which results in high levels of customer engagement.


How many times do customers check their banking app each week?

  • 9 – Australia
  • 7 – UK
  • 6 – Brazil, Canada, France
  • 5 – South Korea, Germany
  • 4 – United States, India
  • 2 – Japan

The UK is a major FinTech hub, and Australian bank users have a culture of peer-to-peer transfers – which helps explain their position at the top of the leaderboard. Meanwhile, Japan’s banking apps only offer wire transfers – which might explain their low use levels.

Innovative features and services win users and loyalty

Similar patterns of engagement emerge when the number of user sessions and MAU (user base) are compared.


Canada, Australia, and the UK all saw high levels of both metrics. Indonesia also showed impressive growth. Meanwhile, Japan languished again, with low growth in MAU and a decline in user sessions – suggesting there are measurable consequences for banks that fail to innovate their in-app experiences and services.

It’s clear that when banks and FinTechs choose to invest in their user experience and commit to pushing out regular updates and innovative new services, there is a direct translation into user engagement and loyalty – with obvious revenue potential.

However, they have a challenging set of demands to address in order to innovate at speed while retaining data security.

Activities like regression testing and test automation can help. Bitbar’s mobile app testing platform is the perfect solution to ensure your banking or FinTech app remains stable and responsive across popular mobile handsets.

Alex Napier Holland

Tech Business Writer