Category Archives: app

Hitachi Digital Services fights wood waste with ‘first-of-its-kind’ digital solution 

Hitachi Digital Services, the digital consultancy and technology services subsidiary of Hitachi, is supporting food waste prevention specialists OneThird in the development of a breakthrough solution tackling the global food waste crisis. OneThird selected Digital Services from Hitachi Vantara, now a new entity known as Hitachi Digital Services, to combine its Azure cloud and application… Read more »

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CMA ruling requires open API for banks to bring finances into single app

Mobile bankingThe Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has released the final report from its retail banking market investigation enforcing widespread technological upgrades in some of the industry’s more traditional institutions, report

The five person investigation committee, which was initially launched in November 2014, were required to decide whether features of the retail banking industry distorted competition within the UK. After two years, the report stated traditional retail banks were not doing enough to ensure the consumer is receiving the best possible deal, and has now set out a number of new rules including the introduction of an open API to enable customer’s access to all their finances, irrelevant of organization, on a single app.

“The reforms we have announced today will shake up retail banking for years to come, and ensure that both personal customers and small businesses get a better deal from their banks,” said Alasdair Smith, Chair of the retail banking investigation. “Our central reform is the Open Banking programme to harness the technological changes which we have seen transform other markets. We want customers to be able to access new and innovative apps which will tailor services, information and advice to their individual needs.”

The development and adoption of an open API standard will have to be in place in all retail banks by Q1 2018, and will enable customers to see their finances, whether they be current accounts, savings accounts or mortgages, in a single app. By providing a single place for all accounts, the CMA hopes this will benefit consumers in a number of ways including avoiding fees incurred by unauthorized overdrafts, which currently adds £1.2 billion a year to the pockets of the retail banks.

Other rules from the CMA include enforcing banks to make all products available to customers through mobile applications, including loans, investments and mortgages. Despite the promise of banking apps, the report has concluded the technology in the more established retail banks is lagging behind other industries. Technology has proved to be a leveller in other sectors, AirBnB is a prime example of technology encouraging the growth of a SME, though this would not appear to be the case in the retail banking sector.

“Mobile financial services have long been approached as a luxury to the banked population in Britain, with banks offering limited services only through their respective applications,” said Maya Barkay, Product Marketing Manager for Mobile Financial Services at Amdocs. “In fact, the true potential of mobile financial services as a whole is being best explored in developing countries, such as Kenya and the Philippines, where these services are providing both basic and advanced financial services to a previously unbanked population.

“Regulation has time and time again been proven an essential enabler to mobile financial services, and this new ruling from the CMA is ensuring that British citizens will finally have the opportunity to harness mobile financial banking in a more useful and user-friendly way.”

The rules set in place are set to encourage more competition in the retail banking market, as larger organizations do not currently have to work hard enough to acquire or retain customers. Moving banks, irrelevant of the money which can be saved is too difficult, thus making growth for challenger banks more difficult and not encouraging competition in the industry.

Despite the efforts of the CMA to increase competition in the industry and provide more of a level playing field for smaller banks, some in the industry do not believe the report has gone far enough.

“As expected, the CMA’s report has fallen short and failed to deliver solutions to a number of the key issues it identified, in particular those facing SMEs seeking larger loans,” said Rishi Khosla, CEO of OakNorth Bank. “The CMA has explicitly stated in its report that a combination of factors make it difficult for new entrants and smaller banks such as OakNorth to effectively compete. Yet despite this, the solutions it’s provided for SME lending are limited to unsecured loans of up to £25,000, so won’t address the issues facing SMEs that need secured or larger loans.

“The fact that the CMA is simply going to pass the buck to the Treasury who won’t look to launch their own investigation until two years from now is extremely disappointing. There are millions of SMEs that are struggling to secure growth capital who may now need to wait up to four years for the situation to improve.”

While the CMA’s ruling does have the best interest of the consumer in mind, aiming to create a more transparent and competitive banking environment, the reception will not be truly known until the Open Banking app is released. During a time where security is top of the agenda and headlines detailing data breaches are not uncommon, it is not clear how many customers would agree to have all their financial information in one place.

YouTube targets small biz and moves up download rankings

Curved video wallApp Annie has released its monthly Index which shows the popularity of dating app Tinder is once again on the rise, YouTube is climbing the content ranks and online video platform iQIYI is fast catching category leaders, reports

The App Annie Index highlights the top-performing games and apps for the iOS App Store and Google Play, states online video platform iQIYI has re-entered the top 10 for revenues over June, and has continued to demonstrate strong growth. Last month it announced it had surpassed 20 million paid subscribers to its streaming service, demonstrating Chinese customers are willing to pay for premium content. This news comes only six months after it reached the 10 million mark, and represents a 765% annual increase in the number of paid subscribers.

Although there has been news of restrictions in Chinese press in recent weeks, the attractiveness of iQIYI to consumers might partly be down to relationships which are in place with international organizations. iQIYI often broadcasts popular international shows and currently has content agreements in place with numerous brands including Universal Pictures and Fox. The team would also appear to have international expansion in mind, as it launched a revamp to its iQiyi Taiwan product, as well as capitalizing on the popularity of virtual reality, as it announced its own VR apps and a partner incentive program during its iQIYI World Conference in May.

Virtual reality could represent a significant opportunity in China, though it does in all technologically advanced nations, as the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology believes it could be worth in the region of 55 billion yuan by 2020, approximately $8 billion. Deloitte Global also predicts the VR segment will become a billion dollar industry in 2016, estimating sales of 2.5 million VR headsets and 10 million games worldwide.

From a content perspective, the Index highlights the recent focus on video content is not limited to Facebook and Twitter, as YouTube re-enters the top 10 for content platforms. Facebook still remains top of the rankings for worldwide downloads, though it would appear efforts YouTube has been putting into revamping its content platform in recent months have been paying off, as the US leads the charge with a wave of new downloads across the month.

One of the new initiatives launched by the YouTube team was Director Onsite, a project which helps small business owners create content for advertising on the platform. For those who commit to $150 of advertising spend, a YouTube approved film director will visit the business and shoot a short promotional video to be used on the platform. The initiative is one of numerous activities from the wider Google business, which seems keen on attracting more small and medium sized business to continue the growth of advertising revenues.

“With respect to consumers, we continue to invest in innovative opportunities that create great experiences and improve their lives,” said Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat, during the company’s quarterly earnings call. “And we’re empowering small businesses globally by providing greater reach to customers, not just in their towns, but across countries and around the world.”

Tinder also saw a slight increase across the month, confirming its place as the highest revenues for the dating app segment. In June, it was the most-used app in the Lifestyle category on iPhone in the 13–24 year old demographic in the US, with only one other dating app featuring in the top five. While Tinder is one of the more recognized brands for millennials, it would be worth noting its target audience is limited to those aged 18 and above, and for the most part are single, while the vast majority of other apps in the rankings have much wider demographics.

India and Brazil biggest countries for app growth

Research from App Annie highlighted emerging markets are set to account for 45% of global app revenue by 2020, with revenue growth expected to double figures in western economies.

Revenues are estimated to reach $102.5 billion and global mobile app store downloads will reach approximately 288 billion in 2020, as US, the Japan and Western European nations would expect growth to be around 12% CAGR, though this percentage grows to 29% when looking at the developing nations.

As of 2015, the APAC market accounted for approximately 52% of global downloads, and 55% of revenues, though these numbers are increased to 57% and 58% respectively by 2020. It would appear the majority of this growth has been driven by the emerging markets as between 2015 and 2020, the contribution to global downloads will increase from 66% to 75% and for revenues the increase with be from 30% to 49%.

India and Brazil are two countries listed were growth will be particularly strong, mainly due to a large population, strong performing economies and strong smartphone uptake. Estimates highlight there are approximately 200 million smartphone users in India currently, though this number is expected to increase to 317 million by 2019. Over the same period GDP in India was at around $2.09 trillion, and is estimated to rise to $3.1 trillion in 2020. Mexico, Indonesia and China also showed good potential.

First and foremost, games will drive the expansion in the emerging markets, though the more mature regions are beginning to witness more of a subscription based model. Whether this is to be the same long-term in the emerging markets is yet to be seen, as there is little data to suggest similar patterns. India for example would still be considered in the hyper growth stages of development, offering lucrative opportunities for developers who gain traction in the early days.

The report does shed light on some interesting statistics and could offer encouragement to app developers who have traditionally found monetization a difficult task, but it comes as no surprise to hear the report states there is likely to be more growth in emerging markets than mature ones.