Chime leads digital-first banking apps in downloads in H1 2021

The news: Total downloads of the top 10 digital first banking apps increased 37.4% year-over-year, with Chime holding the leading spot, according to data compiled by Apptopia. The neobank also led all banking apps in downloads for the duration of 2020.

More on this: Chime, Current, and Varo rounded out the top 3 on the list, but Chime’s 6.4 million downloads put it well ahead of the competition. In fact, Chime had almost as many downloads as the second, third, and fourth spots combined:

  • Current was a distant runner-up at 2.7 million downloads
  • Varo and Step were virtually neck-and-neck at 1.95 million, and 1.94 million downloads, respectively

The download figures echo the findings in Insider Intelligence’s inaugural forecast for account holders at digital-only banks—with Chime expected to be well ahead of its nearest competitor.

The big takeaway: The downloads show that customers believe Chime can provide unique and valuable features like its credit-builder credit card—but a national banking charter could bolster its competitive position against digital challengers and larger incumbents.

The neobank hasn’t been shy about its ambitions, having previously indicated that it was considering becoming a national bank. But it’s not a bank yet, as made clear by the recent settlement with the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, which required it to stop calling itself a “bank.” That ruling could also motivate Chime to obtain a national banking charter.

If Chime could legally call itself a bank, it might increase trust among its customers and prospects—and trust is crucial as the neobank keeps adding new users at a quick clip. In a survey of US digital banking users, Insider Intelligence found that customers with above-average digital trust in their banks exhibited higher levels of customer satisfaction. Higher satisfaction leads to higher retention and potentially greater profitability.