Fintech/Analysis/ Which European banking app is winning the race for customers? Customer acquisition has been the holy grail for European banking apps. But who’s coming out on top? By Amy O'Brien 21 February 2023 Picture: Stone/Shutterstock Picture: Stone/Shutterstock \Fintech 'The time is now': Monzo searches for US CEO to double down on expansion By Amy O'Brien 9 February 2023 Fintech/Analysis/ Which European banking app is winning the race for customers? Customer acquisition has been the holy grail for European banking apps. But who’s coming out on top? By Amy O'Brien 21 February 2023 It’s been a decade since Europe’s first neobanks emerged, promising users easier access to their money than legacy banks, on top of buzzy interfaces and smart features. Since then, they’ve had more than their fair share of growing pains, and legacy banks have adapted by setting up or improving their own digital banking app offering. All this has intensified the fight for customer share in a crowded market. So who’s winning? Which digital banking apps have grown the most over the last couple of years? And are legacy banks beginning to catch up with their neobanking peers? To find out, App Radar analysed how many downloads Europe’s top neobanks and legacy bank apps attracted between 2021 and the end of 2022 using data from the Google Play Store. Apple’s App Store data hasn’t been included. Download data by no means tells us the full story: the banks themselves track active customers by metrics like number of accounts opened, customer deposits, and number of banking products used. But it still gives us an idea of which companies are reaching the most people. Revolut is the most-downloaded banking app in Europe Revolut is Europe’s most popular digital banking app. Since launching in 2015, it’s raked in 26m app downloads, according to App Radar. Of its European neobanking peers, Germany’s N26 comes in second: its app has been downloaded 6.5m times since it launched in 2013. Monzo (5.5m downloads), Monese (4m downloads) and Starling (2.8m downloads) also make it into the top five neobanks. The banks operate at vastly different scales. Revolut operates in more than 200 countries globally, and N26 operates in 21 countries across the Eurozone. This is a big contrast with Starling, which only allows UK residents to open accounts, and Monzo, which only launched in its second market, the US, in February last year. Revolut still comes out on top for most downloads when you include legacy banking apps. But legacy banks’ apps have far more lifetime downloads than other neobank competitors. According to the data, Credit Agricole has clocked up 13m lifetime downloads, Barclays has 11m, Santander has 10m and Intesa Sanpaolo has 9.7m. JP Morgan’s Chase bank is currently the fastest-growing banking app in Europe JP Morgan’s UK retail banking offering, Chase, saw its app downloads surge 1,753% between 2021 and 2022. Though that’s helped by the fact that it only launched in September 2021. Considering growth figures in the context of how long a banking app has been on the market gives us a better idea of which banks have a better long-term customer acquisition strategy. Atom Bank, which was the first neobank to launch in the UK in 2013, experienced the fastest growth out of its older peers in the last couple of years: its app downloads doubled between 2021 and 2022. Behind it, Viva Wallet increased its downloads by 54%, Tandem Bank by 53%, Monzo by 49%, Revolut by 31% and Metro Bank by 28%. On the other end of the spectrum, a number of Europe’s neobanks saw downloads dip drastically between 2021 and 2022. Berlin’s Vivid was the worst-performing out of all the banking apps, with its growth slowing by 50%, followed by Denmark’s Lunar slowing by 41%, N26 by 40% and Amsterdam’s Bunq by 29%. Legacy banks are catching up with neobanks on download growth Until Europe’s neobanks recently refocused on profitability they’ve been defined by their focus on hypergrowth. But the data shows that legacy banks are beginning to close in on their digital-only peers when it comes to the rate of growth for the user base of their own digital offerings. After Chase, Swiss legacy bank UBS came third out of all banking apps for download growth, with an 80% increase between 2021 and 2022. The UK’s Metro Bank and HSBC’s digital banking arm First Direct also made it into the top 10 fastest-growing apps in the period, growing by 28% and 27% respectively. After that, UK legacy banks Lloyds, Halifax and HSBC experienced gains of 16%, 12% and 12% each. “With the ongoing cost of living crisis both sides of the market will have to zero in on their user acquisition strategy” Although legacy banks have a larger general market share than neobanks to begin with, this growth shows that they’ve not grown stale in customers’ eyes, says Silvio Peruci, managing director at App Radar. “Legacy banks’ gains point to the fact that they are steadily adding new younger customers or converting existing customers to mobile banking,” he says. “With the ongoing cost of living crisis, in 2023, both sides of the market will have to zero in on their user acquisition strategy, with innovative functionality and smart marketing techniques to attract and retain users.” But not all legacy banks are winning this battle. Virgin’s mobile banking app was the slowest-growing legacy offering, with its download numbers decreasing by 38%, while Intesa Sanpaolo’s mobile app wasn’t far behind, with a 29% growth slowdown. Amy O’Brien is Sifted’s fintech reporter. She tweets from @Amy_EOBrien and writes our fintech newsletter — you can sign up here. Related Articles What Citymapper did next By Amy Lewin Click here to read more An audience with fintech’s posterchild: Stripe By Isabel Woodford Click here to read more Is it finally European insurtech’s moment in the sun? By Amy O'Brien Click here to read more The problems with subscriptions — and how open banking could help Sponsored by TrueLayer Click here to read more Most Read 1 \Healthtech Is Daniel Ek’s new body scanner worth the hype? 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