Apple Card: a sea change that will make PFM essential to every financial app

 
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If the launch of Apple Card is the roaring success it’s predicted to be, it will supercharge a change in how people expect to manage their finances. But the looming danger for financial services as a whole is that, unless the incumbents start to offer the same seamless and frictionless ways of managing money now – it will fast become the industry standard, and they could be left for dust.

When a behemoth like Apple sets its sights on a new market, it’s not a stretch to expect that disruption will follow. So the fact that Apple Card is slated for launch in the USA later this August, with a European version rumoured to follow, should be enough of a reason for every financial institution – not just those offering credit cards – to sit up and take notice. 

More than a card

The magic potion in Apple’s offering, that will fundamentally flip customer expectations, isn’t the digital credit card itself, or the attractive cashback benefits that come with it – it’s the personal finance management (PFM) tools at the app’s core.

At Tink, we’ve been offering PFM services for seven years, and always believed it was the direction that financial apps were headed. If you can steer your customers to better financial health, with advice and insights based on the most personal, high-stakes data they have – their finances –, all of a sudden, you are doing much more than providing a financial app. You are actively helping them make better decisions through a personalised service that adds value to their lives. Literally.

And when Apple starts delivering PFM to its users, the expectations of customers will quickly soar, turning this kind of service into the new industry standard.

Data-powered PFM

For Apple, PFM will give users a weekly or monthly view of their spending habits, colour coded to spot the trends of whether users’ money is going on household bills, coffee and doughnuts, or trips to Hawaii. It can also use maps to pinpoint where transactions were made, avoiding confusion with merchant codes that leave people scratching their head to remember the purchase.

And that’s just for starters. Tech giants like Apple are masters in leveraging a wealth of user data to deliver them tailored recommendations. This means Apple Card users will most likely soon be getting prompts – what we call ‘actionable insights’ – with advice on how to keep interest rates to a minimum, nudges pointing them to relevant offers and reminders to make payments before their bill is due. Just as an example.

An area of opportunity

When embedded in financial apps, PFM tools are capable of delivering powerful advice on a massive scale – by using data to better understand users’ preferences, with the ability to tailor tips and give useful financial recommendations that show you’ve got their backs. And when you can highlight opportunities and areas of financial improvement, and motivate people to reach their financial goals – you increase engagement, loyalty and sales.

There are some great PFM apps out there already, but to avoid being left behind when Apple Card rolls into town, the financial incumbents in Europe have some work to do.

 
 

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