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JPMorgan Chase's new banking apps lead to positive response - but for how long?

1 year ago by Brad Bergan in Tech

JPMorgan Chase & Co. ($NYSE:JPM) mobile apps saw a ratings explosion in March. On March 21 JPMorgan Mobile had 1,114 ratings, with 115 more tacked on every month for the past year. Another proprietary app, Chase Mobile, was at 350,761 ratings around the same time, with a slope of about 6,000 per month. But then both apps saw an unprecedented inflection point, rising by roughly 1,800 and 800,000 in one month, respectively.

However upon consulting our Thinknum data lab oracles, we saw a mathematical killjoy behind the slope. While ratings for both apps on Google play and Apple store are predominantly positive — in the four-to-five out of five-star range — the rate of that frequency rise in ratings immediately cooled down for both, in what’s called a concave-down shape. This means we’ll probably see a reduced frequency soon. But this also raises the question, why did it happen in the first place?

Eight months earlier, the bank launched a new mobile banking app called Finn, designed to attract new customers beyond the sprawling urban spaces that those in the country rarely (if ever) frequent. It allows users to open a bank account, deposit, track spending, issue checks and put savings plans into motion, all without ever having to learn what a single train delay feels like. While this may have contributed to the bank’s growing digital repute at the turn of the year, the new foray into digital banking corresponds almost exactly to the ratings surge above.

Launched late last year, Chase Pay is a recent addition to the bank’s smorgasbord of fintech capabilities. It allows users to make digital payments at Starbucks, and Best Buy, and is even on track to provide the service at participating Phillips 66, 76, Conoco, ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Shell, and Walmart centers. It’s also designed to integrate old-school customer boons like gift cards, along with the more futuristic fingerprint ID. Although our data shows it growing nominally in ratings frequency immediately following its launch, take a look at what happened this past Spring:

On January 20 Chase Pay was at a modest 1,142 ratings, up from an unremarkable 740 at the turn of the year. But by February 19 of this year their ratings count had quadrupled to 4,512. This went on through March until April 1 and 15, when the ratings jumped another roughly 300, and 1,200, respectively and in a matter of days. As of June 10 Chase Pay’s ratings count is holding around 6,592.

League of Its Own

For comparison, JPMorgan Chase & Co. rival Ally Financial’s ($NYSE:ALLY) main banking app (called Ally Mobile Banking) has followed a linear growth rate of roughly 100 per month, at 2,108 as of March 10. Its digital payments app, Ally Auto Mobile Pay, actually saw a recent increase in ratings frequency this year, jumping by 200 in the last two months, now at 648 ratings as of June 12. While this is impressive compared to its roughly 8-more-per-month growth in 2017, it’s clearly dwarfed by Chase.

In an intersection of academic- and common-sense, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s multifaceted digital progress is understandable. The one driving force behind consumer fintech advancement is the pursuit of seamless, interruption-free banking. Every time you open your wallet, the diurnal reality of eating, working, living and planning is interrupted by the need to interact financially with others. 

And when apps like Chase Pay reduce the opacity of the way we mediate ourselves through the financial world, we feel (if not more connected) less disconnected from everything. What all this means is nothing more than a little recognition that JPMorgan Chase is providing this service, and while digital banking customers may forget the increased convenience soon, for now they seem quite pleased.

By diversifying its mobile presence into focused, single-purpose apps, it seems JPMorgan Chase is tapping into a need on the part of retail bankers: less is more.

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Brad Bergan

Brad is a writer and editor whose fatalistic grammar has appeared in VICE News, Business Insider, 3:AM Magazine, The World Economic Forum, The National Book Criti...

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