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The growth of mobile fintech and the impact for mobile app marketers


By Alexandre Pham, Vice President, EMEA at Adjust

In the fast-moving world of app marketing, 2021 saw yet another transformative year, as the accelerated shift towards mobile continued. This trend was particularly clear in the mobile finance sector, with more users than ever before turning to apps for their financial needs. 

In our recently published Mobile App Trends report, Adjust explored the recent performance of fintech apps, finding a 19% increase in  app downloads across all markets compared to 2020. The in-depth report highlights that banking app revenue reached $6.8 billion last year — an 88% increase on 2020 — and that over half of purchases (52%) were made with a digital wallet in 2021. Meanwhile, the use of cash declined 42% compared to 2019. 

As this thriving industry continues to grow, it presents significant opportunities in the fintech space for mobile app developers and advertisers alike.

Continued growth of install rates

Adjust’s report finds that installs of fintech apps grew by 35% between 2020 and 2021. Looking at the breakdown of these installations per sub-vertical, payment apps make up approximately 57% of the installs share, followed by banking at 34%, stock trading at 7%, and crypto at 2%.

A rise in pandemic-driven use of investing apps continued in 2021, while interest in cryptocurrencies led crypto apps to overtake stock trading apps to become the majority of asset management app downloads. Bitcoin and overall crypto market capitalization reached new all-time highs in April and November. As expected, we found that coverage of “meme coins”, such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, and the popularity of NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain led to a surge of new users into the fintech space.

Globally, the share of paid installs relative to organic installs in the fintech vertical grew from the beginning of 2020 until midway through 2021. Starting at 0.11, 2021 ended with a ratio of 0.14. The most exponential growth can be seen in the crypto vertical, which started 2020 at 0.11 and finished 2021 at 0.23, indicating that the big increase in paid campaigns for cryptocurrency apps also, logically, resulted in a boost in the number of paid installs. Banking’s ratio dropped consistently, starting at 0.12 and finishing at 0.07, showing that the increased need and interest in banking apps caused users to seek the apps out themselves.

With more users than ever before flocking to fintech apps, we know that marketers and developers are looking to expand their channel mixes to capture the largest number of potential new customers. We found that this was reflected in our trends data, as the number of partners each fintech app is working with has also increased alongside the competition. What’s more, the average number of partners for the vertical as a whole grew from three to four-4 in 2021. Crypto saw the greatest increase — beginning 2020 with an average of 2.5 partners per app and finishing 2021 with an average of 4.5.

Identifying trends in user behaviour 

With an increase of 53% globally, the growth of fintech app sessions recorded is even more significant. Our findings highlight a boost in engagement within the vertical, as existing and newly acquired users record more sessions than ever before. While global sessions follow a continued upward trend throughout the year, the highest point can be seen in April, which was 92% higher than the 2020 average, and 27% up on the rest of 2021.

The breakdown of sessions across the fintech subvertical differs significantly from what we saw for installs. Banking takes first place at 46%, followed by payment at 31%. Stock trading and crypto take more of the sessions share than the installs share, at 17% and 6%, respectively. This suggests that the users who download apps in these categories are clocking more sessions than those using banking and payment apps.

We discovered that this high level of engagement is also reflected in the length of sessions by users in each subvertical, with the most significant growth seen among crypto apps. Session lengths in crypto and stock trading are consistently longer than those in banking and payment, which aligns with the business models of each category. While a payment app might only be needed for a number of seconds for a task to be fulfilled, users buying and selling stocks or cryptocurrencies likely need to spend much longer to complete actions.

According to Adjust’s report, in-app revenue for fintech apps is also increasing steadily, showing consistent growth from January 2020 through to December 2021. While subscriptions, third parties (sellers and beneficiaries), and advertising are the key ways that fintechs monetise, we recognise that subscription models have become increasingly prominent. This helps to drive the increase in in-app revenue, as many fintechs have progressed from the growth stage into the profitability stage.

Improving consumer privacy

It’s been more than a year since the rollout of iOS 14.5 and Apple’s AppTracking Transparency (ATT) framework. This marked a critical shift in focus towards protecting consumer privacy. Although early predictions for industry-wide ATT opt-in rates were as low as 5%, our recent data shows a much higher rate of 25% — a number that is increasing consistently.

While the opt-in rate for fintech apps sits below the industry-wide average, at 11%, these changes to data privacy have reinforced the need for financial marketers to extract value from their own first-party data. Given this, we can expect to see continued acceleration in ATT opt-in rates for the fintech vertical, as more users understand the value of opting-in and receiving personalised advertisements.

Therefore, app marketers should implement robust opt-in strategies that communicate the benefits of targeted advertising to users. It’s this exact proposition, which has already been communicated for years, that’s led to hyper-casual games consent rates reaching as high as 40%

Predictions for the future of mobile fintech

Last year, we found that more users than ever before flocked to apps for their financial needs. With installs and sessions of fintech apps increasing across all regions and subverticals, it is clear that the global fintech app ecosystem is thriving — and continued growth can be expected from this space in coming years. 

Looking to the future of mobile fintech, we anticipate growth in Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services, digital wallets enabling access to cryptocurrencies, andcloud banking from traditional banks. 

To best position their apps for success,it’s imperative that  marketers  embrace and understand Appe’s SKAdNetwork framework, maximize the value of first-party data, and focus long-term strategy on consent boosting their opt-in rates. Although currently  low by comparison, pushing opt-ins up by even a couple of percentage points can prove invaluable when it comes to building out conversion value models and predictive strategies for the aggregated SKAdNetwork data set. Focusing on finding these high-value users is key, along with building retention strategies that keep them sticking around. 

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