What the ‘Marie Kondo Effect’ Could Mean for Standalone Fintech Apps

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People are trying to declutter their phones as well as their homes — is this a problem for standalone apps like PayPal-owned Venmo?

“I don’t need Venmo when I can do the same thing on my phone with Apple Pay or Google Pay without needing an extra app,” Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of payments platform company BlueSnap, told Bank Innovation. “This might be an unpopular thought, but Google, Apple, and others are going to out beat it [Venmo]. It’s a good app, it served its purpose, but there’s going to be causality.”

Dangelmaier is not alone to think this. In today’s world, decluttering Marie Kondo-style — discarding things that are no longer useful — is not just for the physical world, but the digital world, too. Millennials are also more careful than older generations about giving precious screen space to apps — 54% have all their apps accessible in the first two screens of their phones, compared with 37% of Baby Boomers, according to Comscore’s 2017 mobile app usage report.

A quarter of respondents (25%) to The Manifest Mobile App Usage Statistics 2018 said they deleted an app because they were out of storage space on their phones.

“People are realizing that they have way too many apps on their phones,” another source, who requested to remain unnamed, told Bank Innovation. “Consumers want one comprehensive financial services app where they can do everything in one place in a seamless, easy and secure fashion.”

Also See: Venmo Announces It Will Remove Payment Functionality from Website

Companies like PFM app Money Lion’s Tim Hong, chief marketing officer, and Tally CEO Jason Brown have both told Bank Innovation that they aspire to be a one-stop financial app for their consumers. Challenger bankers like N26, Monzo, Revolut, among others, have iterated the same sentiment.

Traditional banks must also have realized this to some degree. A few years ago, the bank-backed Early Warning created P2P app Zelle, which, unlike Venmo, is already integrated into a user’s existing bank app. This year, Zelle’s transaction volume and amount outpaced that of Venmo significantly. In its 3Q18 earnings report, Zelle revealed that it processed 116 million transactions and $32 billion in payments during the quarter. In comparison, Venmo during this period had $16.7 billion in payments, according to its earnings report. And despite an impressive YOY increase of 78%, Venmo is yet to generate monetary returns for PayPal. In fact, figuring out how to do that is at the top of PayPal CEO Dan Schulman’s priority list for the coming quarters, according to its most recent earnings call.

Owned by payments giant PayPal, Venmo’s unique offering is its social media characteristics. Ironically, it is this aspect that got the P2P app into trouble last year.  In July 2018, the Federal Trade Commission claimed that Venmo’s default privacy setting had “misled consumers,” as well as “misrepresented the extent of security it provided to consumer financial accounts.” The FTC and Venmo have since settled.

But it Venmo’s social media characters also has its benefits.

“P2P apps like Paypal or Venmo will continue to play a role as long as they maintain their edge from a social platform perspective,” Mihail Duta, Head of Product Management, Payments Solutions, at Finastra told Bank Innovation. “If banks via Zelle will catch up in that area, then we will see a decline of the non-bank apps.”

And yet, the question of whether it’s worth using precious gigabytes of storage on one’s phone for Venmo or other pure-play P2P apps remains largely unanswered.

In addition to Apple Pay and Google, social media platform Facebook offers a payment option through its Messenger service. And unlike Venmo, Facebook and Square Cash allow users to make payments via desktop. Venmo removed this feature in June.

Bank Innovation has reached out to PayPal and is awaiting comment.

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