New Report: Apple Watch Banking Apps Fail To Excite Clients

Despite the rapid market growth of smartwatches, and in particular the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch banking apps are not living up to their promises. This is a key finding in the new report “Banking on the Apple Watch 2015 – Time to Deliver Apps that Excite Clients” for which the Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking Research analyzed and ranked the Apple Watch banking apps offered by 22 leading retail banks worldwide that complement their main banking app offerings.

None of the apps evaluated achieved the maximum possible 15 points, highlighting how the current Apple Watch apps are not delivering a comprehensive experience. The highest score was only 9 points and this was jointly achieved by five banks: ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Deutsche Bank.

Apple Watch Apps Underperforming in Personalisation

In MyPrivateBanking’s view, the main weakness of the Apple Watch banking apps that were analysed is the lack of personalisation features. The analysts see this as a major drawback as personalisation of discounts, rewards, news, suggestions and product offerings will increasingly become the determinant of a successful banking app.

“It is promising to see that a fair share of banks started developing an offering for the Apple Watch early on; however, in terms of offered features and functionality, the opportunities offered by wearable technologies have only scratched the surface so far,” states MyPrivateBanking analyst Carmela Melone.

Two areas scored the highest overall in the report. Firstly, 55% of the maximum points were achieved for the provision of help features supporting clients in using the Apple Watch app. In some cases, the apps offer slideshows explaining the apps’ main features; in other cases there are comprehensive FAQs available for the corresponding iPhone version. The same percentage of points was achieved for the provision of a financial overview, such as displayed account balances and past transactions, as well as for integrating a graphical overview allowing clients to view their financial situation at a glance.

Three Strategic Implications for Smartwatch Banking Apps

MyPrivateBanking sees the wearables trend, specifically the Apple Watch, as one of the most significant opportunities for banks to deliver real-time, context-aware services that help people to live a life of financial wellness.

The report identifies crucial strategic considerations banks must make when developing a smartwatch app. These insights provide a guideline for banks that want to be prepared and armed when joining the war for clients’ attention:

In new technology we trust. Embracing new technology trends such as the Apple Watch promotes an attentive, forward-looking brand and can allow banks to reach valuable new audiences, e.g. young consumers, millennials and early tech adopters with disposable income.

Always on trend. The combined potential of a very personal gadget and its propensity for real-time alerts and location-based services makes the Apple Watch a candidate to become the hub of banks’ context-aware digital strategies.

Be ‘on hand’ for money movements. With mobile payments and remote deposits set to become the dominant channels for these transaction volumes in the future, devices such as the Apple Watch present banks with a huge opportunity (not to mention processing cost savings).


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