While banking apps for consumers are plentiful, small companies and even large corporations are limited in their ability to check up on things from their phones and tablets.
The world of financial apps for businesses is small - data from Malauzai Software show that there are only about 129 business mobile apps offered by banks with $50 million to $15 billion in assets. In other words, about 2% of community banks offer apps specifically for businesses. That compares to nearly two-thirds of community banks offering a consumer banking mobile app. Malauzai is one of the larger vendors of consumer and small business apps to community banks; FIS, Fiserv, NCR/Digital Insight, Q2, Alkami are also among the vendors providing mobile banking software banks can use to create apps for business clients.
Most of the largest banks have some sort of app for businesses, although those tend to be more skewed toward corporate clients. Small businesses often use the consumer app or a tweaked version of it.
It is perhaps surprising that the options are so limited, given the hectic schedules executives and entrepreneurs keep — wouldn't they want the ability to approve payments as they wait to board their flight or check their worldwide liquidity during a strategic planning session?
Experts say the field is still fairly narrow for a few reasons, including concerns over security and the difficulty of presenting a useful and differentiated experience that is up to par with the consumer-facing apps.
Here is a look at some of the standouts among the bank offerings.
Wells Fargo's CEO Mobile: The San Francisco-based bank was among the first to have an online banking platform for businesses, so it is fitting that CEO Mobile is a robust offering. The app offers commercial customers about 40 different functions, from initiating wires to managing purchasing cards. Users can also use the app to upload receipts for expense reports. Observers liken it to a bite-sized version of the online portal.
JPMorgan Chase's Access Mobile: One of the hurdles to widespread adoption of mobile by corporate clients is the worry over security. JPMorgan's Access stands out from a security standpoint. The app has three-factor authentication, including voice and lock-screen pattern. Log-off buttons are located throughout the app for quick exits and the app is automatically disabled if it detects device tampering.
PNC Financial Services Group's Pinacle: PNC gets style points from mobile banking consultants for the design of Pinacle, its native app for commercial clients that launched in 2014. The company sought to create a mobile experience that didn't feel like a recreation of its website. The design was intended to be intuitive, so users can scroll through accounts by swiping left and right and can dig deeper into activity by tapping, rather than using drop down menus or toggling.
Citigroup's CitiDirect BE Tablet: Companies can see a global view of account balances worldwide through Citi's tablet app. Such a function helps banks manage liquidity and prevent overdrafts. The display shows real-time account balance information on Citi accounts. The company also uses the Swift network and internal proprietary logic to display the users' account balances at other institutions. Administrators can tailor the map view from global to regional for to suit executives' preferences.
American Express's OpenForum: This app, which serves as a news feed for small business owners, went through a major redesign this year. The company replaced what was basically a mobile version of the news-you-can-use website with a personalized approach to delivering daily doses of knowledge. Users can specify what types of stories they want and when they want to get them. The news app is part of Amex's larger suite of mobile offerings — its main app lets users check balances and provides links to pay bills and redeem reward points. A separate app, known as ReceiptMatch, is used to store and organize expenses.
SVB Financial Group's SVB Mobile Banking: The bank is one of the few in its asset class to build its own mobile experience for businesses. Given its focus in the tech and start-up world of Silicon Valley, the company added functions like the ability to approve a high volume of payments in multiple currencies quickly to the app, while still building in enough safeguards to help the finance team validate the transactions. Recently, the company has been working on incorporating corporate card management into the app.