Fintech Apps in 2017: What Changed, What Didn’t

This article was first published on Medium.

Over half of US consumers still do not download any new apps in a given month, according to data from comScore. As we approach the end of 2017, I thought it’d be interesting to take a quick scan of the top 100 US ‘Finance’ apps in the App Store to see what’s changed in a year.

Here are the 15 private, venture-backed developers that ranked among the top 100 apps in the Finance category on Dec. 18, 2016:


And here are the 22 private, venture-backed developers that ranked among the top 100 apps in the Finance category one year later (Dec. 18, 2017):


Below are some quick observations (note: these are just two point-in-time snapshots and 1/ are mostly for illustrative purposes and 2/ may not reflect current data):

Rise of crypto: Over the last year, the market cap of all cryptocurrencies has risen from $15B to over $600B. Amid the frenzy, Coinbase jumped to the top Overall app in the App Store for a short period, while four other venture-backed wallet/exchange startups (Kraken, Bitstamp, Bread, ShapeShift) are also now in the top 100 Finance apps. Based on public data, it’s likely Coinbase has added over 8M new accounts in 2017 YTD alone.

Data via  Alistair Milne

PFMs drop off: While a host of personal finance managers started up in the last two years, only one, Clarity Money, still ranks among the top 100 Finance apps. In fact, Clarity is one of just two venture-backed Finance apps to launch in the App Store since last December and now rank among the top 100. Meanwhile, other PFMs including Level Money and Prosper Daily were discontinued this year.
Acorns, Stash, & Robinhood rise: In total, 10 of the 22 apps were also on the top 100 as of the same date last year. Three that have grown substantially in 2017 are Acorns, Stash and Robinhood, which together now publicly claim more than 6.4M accounts. The growth comes as all three are expanding into new features and products heading into 2018 with Robinhood introducing options trading, Stash slated to launch a free bank account service, and Acorns prepping a retirement savings plan. Also worth watching in 2018 is an increase of ‘rebundling’ a la Acorns’ integration with PayPal’s app.

Data via  CB Insights  research briefing

Data via CB Insights research briefing

Data via Barclays research, company reports & mentions

Data via Barclays research, company reports & mentions

Reengineering payroll: Another cohort of apps in the top 100 are those aiming to eliminate overdraft fees or high interest loans. Dave, the only other venture-backed app to launch since last December and rank among the top 100 Finance apps, aims to offer loans up to $75 after analyzing a user’s bank account for potential overdrafts (Dave also asks users to tip on advances and costs $12 per year). Meanwhile, Even jumped up the App Store charts in mid-December after Walmart announced it would allow its 1.4M employees to access half their wages earned before payday through the personal finance app. Earnin, which allows users to access a cash advance (up to $100 daily withdrawal limit) on their accrued earnings on demand instead of waiting a full two weeks, is now used by employees at 25,000 companies vs. 250 employers in July 2014.

Public data from press mentions

Public data from press mentions

Insurance? There are no venture-backed insurance startups amid the top 100 Finance apps (mobile car insurer Root is among the top 200) speaking to the fact that many insurance startups employing managing general agent or carrier models are not in enough states to make a nationwide insurance app relevant (or perhaps even make sense at all in most cases outside of health because of added friction during the sign-up process and few critical touch points afterward). That’s not to say the mobile channel isn’t completely irrelevant as some startups are selling policies on mobile-friendly websites at relevant points in time and experimenting with other interfaces as well.