Banking Mobile & Online UX

The evolution of weather apps (and what it means for banking)

What do weather apps have to do with banking? Illustration: Freepik
Written by Jim Bruene

What could banks learn from the evolution of mobile weather apps? Plenty, says Jim Bruene.

In 2007, I’d never used an Apple product, but I was one of the first to get an iPhone that year. I wanted to see for myself what the much-touted device meant for the future of financial services. While there was no banking in v1.0, I found myself enthralled with the weather button, my first taste of the elegance of a native app experience.

Fast-forward (almost) eight years and the weather button(s) is still my most used app, yet in the face of fierce competition, even weather apps have evolved from being completely static to having a useful alerting functions. The Dark Sky app (see image below) hits me with a popup notification and jingle 10 minutes before it’s about to rain, which comes in handy in Seattle.

Look at the schematic of the Dark Sky weather app. Five years ago, weather apps gave us the a simple probability of rain some time during the whole day. Now it predicts precisely the exact minute rain will start in my neighborhood. This is a massive functional improvement.

The Dark Sky weather app. Photo: Dark Sky website

Weather apps and money management

The evolution in mobile weather demonstrates the importance of transitioning from static information retrieval to active alerting. A good passive experience was fine for the first wave of mobile information (2008 to 2013/2014), but the best apps now go way beyond that. Let’s switch gears to money management. Your preferred banking/PFM app knows how much you’ve spent compared to previous periods, it knows how much you make and what bills are due before the next paycheck. So, your money app can alert you, in real-time, when you are bumping up to the last of your discretionary spending each pay period. And while this is a pragmatic use case, it’s also a negative one since the app keeps reminding users how strapped for cash they are.

A more entertaining use revolves around purchase recommendations. My money manager (Mint in this case, but it could be my bank/card issuer) knows I’m a coffee shop addict. The app could give me a heads-up when I was in the vicinity of a high-rated coffee shop. Of course, the recommendations would have to be highly relevant and focused, or I would just ignore (or turn off) the alerts.

The bottom line is that it’s time for banking/PFM apps to be as smart about your money as Dark Sky is about the rain. I forecast a bright future for financial institutions that get it right.

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here.

About the author

Jim Bruene

After developing the first major PFM-based online banking program at US Bancorp in the early 1990s, Jim Bruene went on to found two companies in the space: Online Banking Report and the Finovate conference series. He has been writing and geeking out on digital financial services nearly every day for more than 20 years and is currently Principal of BUX Advisors, a fintech UX/UI consultancy, as well as continuing to help guide content at Finovate events.

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