May 11, 2018 / 3:35 PM / 10 days ago

Britain's HSBC joins the fintech fray with multi-account app

LONDON (Reuters) - HSBC’s (HSBA.L) Connected Money app, providing a single platform for users to see their accounts with a range of providers, registered 13,000 downloads within a day of its launch, the British lender’s digital banking head said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Office blocks of Citi, Barclays, and HSBC banks seen at dusk in the Canary Wharf financial district in London, Britain November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Retail banks are rushing to polish up their digital offerings as smaller financial technology firms enjoy growing popularity among users who increasingly expect slick apps and more personalized services.

HSBC has set aside $2 billion for investments in technology globally and digital banking head Raman Bhatia said it will start a large advertising campaign at the weekend as it seeks to make the full breadth of its 13 million-strong UK customer base aware of Connected Money.

While app-only start-ups such as Monzo have offered their relatively young and metropolitan user base similar experiences for years, HSBC is the first large bank to join the fray.

Bhatia said customers want intuitive ways to manage their finances, adding that Connected Money puts HSBC at the center of their financial lives and decisions.

“You can draw a line from there to the commercial upside,” he said.

Connected Money users can view accounts from up to 21 different banks, including HSBC’s main rivals. The app will also soon be able to offer savings suggestions based on spending habits and round transactions up to the nearest pound and put the difference into a savings account.

    While initially available only to UK customers, the app could eventually be offered to non-HSBC customers as well. Depending on its reception, it could even replace HSBC’s mobile app entirely, Bhatia said.

    On Friday 129 users had given Connected Money an overall rating of 4.4 stars in the Apple app store. Monzo had an overall rating of 4.6 stars from 1,343 users.

    HSBC launched a trial version last year for selected customers and launched the app for about 1,000 staff a week ago.

    Other major lenders are expected to follow suit with their own so-called aggregator apps in the coming months, spurred by a change in regulation intended to promote competition and provide a boost to smaller lenders and fintech firms.

    Even the largest digital-only bank by customer numbers, Revolut, is dwarfed by traditional players. Revolut has less than 2 million customers across a number of European countries, while Lloyds (LLOY.L) has 13 million active online users.

    (Refiles with correct date)

    Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by David Goodman

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