MobileApp Ranking challenger banks, incumbents, fintech banks

What do consumers think of banking apps?

In one of our previous articles, CFTE used the number of clicks taken to open a bank account as an indicator of the consumer experience at each bank. However, we recognise that a consumer often only opens a bank account once or at most a few times in a lifetime. Therefore, that may not be representative of the entire experience that a consumer may have. As a result, we are back again this time where we analyse the ratings of the various banking apps instead. 


In order to come up with the results below, here are some of the methods which we adopted.


We obtained the rating of the different banking applications from both Google Play and Apple Store. After which, we did an average of both the ratings obtained, coming up with our average rating for each banking app. Subsequently, in order to compare across countries and between challenger and incumbent banks, we took the average of all these average ratings.

Apples-to-apples Comparison

We recognise that each bank may have multiple apps targeting different kinds of consumers, catered to corporate banking and retail banking respectively. Therefore, for a fair comparison, we ensured that all the apps we looked at were for the everyday consumer. When there are more than one of such apps, we picked the one that was more popular in terms of usage.

Here are all the banking apps that we have looked at, as well as their average rating. This time, we looked at a total of 23 banking apps across 7 countries.

Figure 1: Overall Overview

Comparison 1: Incumbent vs Challenger Banks

Figure 2: Incumbents vs Challenger Banks

As expected, the challenger banks, being digital banks, have an overall higher rating than the incumbent banks. After all, they have no brick and mortar customer service counter that consumers can go to to settle their banking needs. It, therefore, makes sense that they need to ensure that the user experience in their banking app is smooth. As discussed in our article last week, a smooth user experience is also essential for such digital banks to build trust among their consumers.

However, directing your attention to Figure 1, we noticed that there are numerous incumbent banks who are doing as well, if not better, than some of the challenger banks too. Such banks include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Lloyds and Barclays. It should not be discounted that there are indeed some incumbent banks who have successfully provided a smooth and delightful user experience for their consumers too. Other incumbent banks who are still lagging behind can look to learn from these banks

Based on our observations, incumbent banks tend to have multiple banking apps, sometimes without an obvious distinction between them. For instance, just the search of “DBS” in the App Store results in multiple banking apps popping out. Even when there is a clear distinction between the different apps, it is a hassle to the consumer for having to download multiple apps. On the other hand, challenger banks usually have a one-in-all app which may be more convenient for consumers. This could be something that incumbent banks can attempt to look into.

Comparison 2: Across Countries

Figure 3: Geographical Comparison

We also did a comparative analysis of the banking apps across different countries. The US and UK are leading in their ratings, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong then France Surprisingly, Singapore is no longer the first and in fact, quite a distance away from the US and UK. Whereas our previous research on speed of onboarding saw Singapore come out first, it seems that in this case, users of the Singapore banking apps are either less satisfied by the overall app experience or have very high expectations.

After all, ratings are ultimately dependent on consumers’ expectations. It is likely that there are varying expectations across consumers from different countries. This can be seen by how the same bank’s app for two different countries can receive very different ratings. For instance, referring to Figure 1, Citi US and City SG banking apps receive 4.75 and 3.65 average ratings respectively. The question to ask here then is: How can banks ensure that their banking apps better meet their consumers’ expectations? One possible way is that banks can look towards understanding their consumers’ needs through the use of open source data in order to better cater to them. This can be achieved through collaborations across different parties and banks, as seen in the whole upcoming trend of open banking.


Although incumbent banks are often blamed for their poor digital service, our analysis shows that users rank some banks very highly, even more than challenger banks. However, it appears that there are big geographic differences in terms of user satisfaction for bank apps, and it would be interesting to understand more the reasons behind – is it about app performance or user expectations?

While competition in the finance industry is only going to increase, such competition is likely going to push incumbents to be more innovative and consumer-centric. While challenger banks may be ahead now, they need to watch out too as incumbent banks are gradually catching up.

These topics are addressed in the Fintech specialisation which covers the impact of technology in finance, the role of challenger banks, and the main technologies that are driving digital banking.

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