A year after launching Finn, it’s mobile banking app geared toward younger consumers, JPMorgan Chase is throwing in the towel.
The Wall Street bank is folding Finn into its Chase digital banking app after a failed attempt to lure younger consumers to the bank. The idea behind Finn was to develop an app that would handle easy transactions for millennials and younger customers. Humans would be on hand in branches for more complex financial matters.
“Finn was an interesting concept to get young adults straight out of high school to start saving,” said Sankar Krishnan, EVP Banking and Capital Markets at Capgemini, the consulting firm. “Given that the Chase mobile app has excellent features and functionality and has enjoyed considerable success it does not make sense to operate two parallel apps and that could be one reason for ending Finn.”
Customers of Finn were alerted Thursday that their account would move over to Chase on August 10. Monthly fees are being waived. JPMorgan isn’t saying how many Finn customers it has but more than half also have a Chase account. A JPMorgan spokesman said the bank realized millennials don’t need a sperate mobile banking experience or brand. “We know the Chase brand is already among the most popular banks for millennials, so we’re leaning in on that, rather than continuing to build a brand from scratch,” said the spokesman. “They simply want a bank that gives them the tools to manage their money, along with access to branches when they need them. Given all this, we have taken some of the favorite Finn features, such as rules to automatically save, and have already integrated them into our Chase mobile app and have other capabilities we have yet to announce.”
The failed attempt at a stand-alone mobile banking app underscores the problem traditional banks have. With an increasing number of consumers conducting their banking on smartphones, financial institutions are having a tough time reaching them. FinTechs, on-the-other-hand aren’t. Their zero-fee mobile banks are resonating with a large swath of the U.S. population. Chime, the San Francisco challenger bank is one example. It has a valuation of about $1.5 billion and as of March surpassed 3 million FDIC bank accounts. Meanwhile, BankMobile has 1.8 million account holders, claiming to serve one in every three college students in the U.S.
While JPMorgan is the leader in banking in the U.S. with more than 50 million active digital users, it has been doubling down on its branches, announcing plans last year to open 400 physical locations over the next five years. It also allocated $11.5 billion for tech spending this year. Technology it developed for Finn including automatic savings tools, is expected to be integrated into the Chase mobile banking app.
One of the reasons the challenger banks are thriving is the rate they offer consumers on savings account. High-interest rates are the industry norm among neobanks. But Finn wasn’t about that, which may have hurt its ability to grow its customer base. “The bank and fintech space is very competitive right now, and it’s not easy to build and scale an entirely new product from scratch,” said Krista Morgan, Chief Executive of P2Bi, the alternative lender. To say the digital banking sector is competitive is an understatement. In addition to the fintechs and traditional banks trying to corner the markets, Facebook, PayPal, Amazon, and Google are all vying for a piece of the action.
How it shakes out is anyone’s guess, but Morgan thinks collaboration will win the day. “Banks partnering with fintechs are more prevalent than ever, allowing consumers to get the trust and stability of a traditional bank while enjoying the tech and ease of use of many financial technology startups provide,” said Morgan. “As we move towards the future, I would predict more of these large banks still look into partnerships with fintechs that already have an established product and client base, it’s a win for everyone.”