Top banks to launch app stores says Gartner

Antony Savvas

A quarter of the top 50 global banks will have launched banking app stores for customers by 2016, says analyst Gartner.

Banking CIOs, CMOs and line of business (LOB) heads face two key challenges, the analyst said.

The first is that the visibility of customer banking apps in public stores is decreasing due to the total number of apps available. The second is that visibility of apps on bank websites is decreasing as the number of apps a bank deploys increases.

This second issue is exacerbated by the fact that most bank websites do not make it easy for customers to find their apps. Apps are often listed by LOB, making it difficult for a customer to see all the apps offered by the bank, and even if they are listed in one place, the descriptions are often "high-level and vague", said Gartner.

"Left unaddressed, these two challenges and others could really have a negative impact on banking revenues and customer experience," said Gartner analyst Kristen Moyer. "Banks can use banking app stores to improve app discovery but only if the added cost and complexity are warranted."

Gartner is advising CIOs, CMOs and LOB heads to evaluate the potential need for a banking app store. The two most important variables in evaluating the need for a banking app store are the total number of apps and the presence (or otherwise) of an application programming interface (API) platform.

The more apps a bank has deployed, the more challenging it becomes for users to discover the right app for them. Public web APIs deployed to third-party developers, customers, partners, employees and others will serve as a multiplier to the number of apps deployed by the bank itself.

Gartner expects to see about 25 percent of large banks deploy banking app stores to improve app discovery, user experience and collaboration. As more banks deploy app stores, it will put competitive pressure on those that do not, said the analyst.

Banks also need to make it easier for customers to find their apps by providing a "get your mobile app here" type of banner through their online banking application, Gartner said.

Banks however should continue to make banking apps available through public app stores, regardless of whether or not they deploy their own banking app stores.

This is because "it's important to be where customers are", said Gartner, and many customers will continue to discover apps through public stores. In addition, for some mobile operating systems - like iOS - a banking app store would still need to link apps to iTunes to enable them to be downloaded.