By Kosala Hemachandra, CEO of MEW
In the evolution of technology, across decades and generations, there are expansions of new offerings that create solutions to all sorts of challenges. Then, inevitably, the expansion peaks and begins to consolidate. We have witnessed this with the supercomputers expanding to the size of entire buildings to now having a MacBook Pro fit easily inside a backpack. Rotary phones once hung on the wall, video cameras came with shoulder pads to help handle the weight and your Sony Walkman clipped to your belt — All only to be replaced by one smartphone that can do all their jobs, but better.
So what is the next significant consolidation of services? Well, we are witnessing it right now, as your brick & mortar bank, your brokerage, your accountant and even your crypto assets are finding their way into all-in-one mobile applications.
How did we get here?
In 2007, the first iPhone came out and gave us the modern idea of “apps” that rivaled websites and computer programs for attention. 14 years later, it’s safe to say that apps have beaten out the competition, as a study found the average American checks their phone every 12 minutes and 88% of that time is spent on apps.
With my company, just having a web-based platform wasn’t enough– Four years ago, we saw a need to release a mobile app to meet our users where they wanted to spend their time. Since its release, we have witnessed demand in what can be offered through mobile skyrocketing. Our mobile development team has grown from just one developer to over 13, as decentralized finance becomes a larger wing of the modern financial services industry.
Why are mobile apps so good at bundling services?
I believe as more of the financial industry evolves to be decentralized, it has the biggest potential to be revolutionized by mobile apps. Let’s look at investing in the stock market, something that seemed exclusive to only those with hundreds of thousands of disposable income. Now, with apps like Robinhood or Public, the idea of investing has been turned on its head. These mobile apps offer unprecedented levels of access to services that can change the lives of those who utilize them. The delivery through a mobile app simplified the process for anyone to understand and feel comfortable.
These disruptors cause the traditional players of an industry to begin bundling services. Financial institutions like Charles Schwab were forced to evolve or die, and so they cut trading fees, offered fractional stock shares, all-in-one brokerage and checking account services, and more to become more appealing to mobile-first users.
The market expands large enough to give people everything they want most from that industry, and then it consolidates because both companies and individuals prefer to stay in the same app to do more.
People gravitate to mobile apps, as a matter of convenience and efficiency. With a Marketing Dive survey, reporting that 85 percent of mobile users prefer apps over mobile sites, because a well-designed mobile app can create a quicker, more streamlined user experience. We all love Target because they offer groceries, medicine, clothes, and entertainment all in one place — the same can be true for our financial services. If we can deposit money, check our investments, buy crypto and pay down our credit card all in one app, we will.
Financial freedom; simplified
“Super apps” exist already in the form of WeChat, Facebook and Google, offering individuals and businesses more complex offerings for the sophisticated needs of app users. However, the financial industry faces a different challenge as it attempts to consolidate. There is currently a revolution happening in how we think about our finances, investing and defining value.
Crypto Market Trade and the socialization of finance have upended the traditional financial playbook of the last hundred years. Much of this change has yet to be wholly defined by any set of standards and best practices. Simply stated, the next phase of financial services is still expanding and becoming more decentralized.
We are at the early adopters’ stage of the digital assets industry, and companies like Coinbase, Ledger, and my own, MEW, are offering solutions to roll up the best crypto services for users in what I consider to be the first stage of delivering the best services to a broader user base.
Consolidation and centralization are not the same
Just because a company makes a mobile app consolidating services, doesn’t mean it’s superior though. When Napster consolidated our CD collections, it revolutionized how we listened and accessed our music. However, when Spotify continued to refine how to bundle audio entertainment, they centralized the experience to the point where new apps like Apple Music and Tidal found users looking for different bundled offerings. Understanding how your unique users want to interface with the services is an important distinction that can be overlooked.
I believe that consolidating services in a decentralized way creates an all-inclusive ecosystem that pulls from the best developers without limiting the user’s ability to access the most innovative services. Offering financial platforms the ability to evolve, while using decentralization as a resource to offer the best user experience.
If they don’t, users who don’t want their options to be limited or overly controlled, as we saw in January with the Gamestop short squeeze, when Robinhood halted trading for millions of users, will be forced to move away from the traditional names in order to find the companies who are building with their users future in mind.
The right developments are more important than ever. Building a trusted brand in your community has to come first before users believe that the services you’re bundling are the best for them. I have heard from our community of users that they only decided to try something like DeFi (Decentralized Finance) because we began offering the services directly in our mobile app. They have to trust we are filtering out the bad actors, especially when it comes to protecting, storing, trading, or earning on their personal finances.
Mobile apps are expected to generate over $935 billion in revenue by 2023. Crypto is reshaping how we invest and earn by the billions. This means the development process is more important than ever, as bundling services in an easy-to-use app is not going out of style anytime soon. We are currently writing the script for what financial services will look like for the next fifty years or more. I believe that we will begin to see the biggest names in the financial industry adapt and decentralize their offerings or begin consolidating the most popular services from blockchain companies for their users. Either way, the future of finance will become easier, more profitable, more focused on the individual and decentralized.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.