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Chart of the Week: Retail Banking Apps Dominate In MAUs

By Ryan Brady | January 13, 2022 | 0 Comments

MarketingCustomer ExperienceDigital Marketing Strategy and Execution

Can we appreciate how popular retail banking mobile apps are for a moment?

Take a look at this week’s chart of the week. When we analyzed 1,128 mobile apps from 692 brands between Q4 2020 and Q3 2021 in our inaugural Digital IQ: Mobile Marketing Benchmarks for 2021, we found that retail banking brand apps far outpace the fourteen other industries we analyzed in terms of monthly active users (MAUs). 

Retail Banking Brand Apps Lead in MAUs

In many respects, this makes perfect sense. After all, credit card bills usually need to be paid on a monthly basis, unless you want to incur late fees and a ding to your credit score (and maybe your ego). Retail banking apps are also just becoming way more convenient, especially as they continue to evolve to include features such as peer-to-peer payments, mobile check deposits, image recognition, voice payments, ATM locators and more. Of course, a global pandemic doesn’t hurt app engagement metrics, either.

Digital-First Challengers Encroach on Traditional Brands

When we looked at the top 10 retail banking brand apps with the highest MAUs, we found that digital-first challengers, such as Cash App, Chime and Discover Bank are encroaching on traditional retail banks. This is especially apparent when looking at the top 10 retail banking brand apps with the greatest increase in MAUs year-over-year. These digital-first challengers make up 9 of the top 10 retail banking apps with the greatest increase in MAUs. Chime, in particular, captured serious momentum with both a 96% jump in MAUs and having claimed the #5 spot for the retail banking app with the most MAUs. 

What’s so different about these digital-first solutions? Well, it depends on which one you look at. In general, they tend to emphasize a unique selling point or offer other financial services, such as Cash App also serving as an investment app, or Aspiration’s banking app, which revolves around diminishing the effects of climate change. As younger generations continue to opt for digital-first banking apps over traditional brands, we expect more digital-first solutions to claim a greater share of interest.

Why Should You Care?

Why should marketers in other industries care?

Because these digital-first challengers are assuming mobile app dominance across many categories. When looking at just hotel brands, for example, digital-first home rental providers Airbnb and Vrbo outpace traditional hotel brands in mobile app MAUs. And among wealth and asset management brands, digital-first Robinhood and Acorns reign supreme. Marketing leaders should look to these digital disruptors within their own industries to learn how these innovative mobile apps may be providing a unique experience or value proposition for customers, and be prepared to reinvent their own mobile apps to compete.


Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share your thoughts down below. 


For more insights and recommendations, check out our recently published Digital IQ: Mobile Marketing Benchmarks for 2021, where we benchmark the mobile marketing performance of over 1,300 brands across 15 industries.

Also read my last chart of the week, where I discuss the mobile app download slowdown: Chart of the Week: Mobile App Downloads Stall


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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