This Financial Mobile App Initiative Is Missing You


Do you all know about the MyMoneyAppUp Challenge? It’s a contest offering cash prizes “intended to motivate American entrepreneurs, software developers, the public, and students to propose the best ideas and designs for next-generation mobile tools to help Americans control and shape their financial futures.”

It's sponsored by the U.S. Treasury Department in partnership with the D2D Fund and Center for Financial Services Innovation. The content submission form asks contestants to specify how their app would promote financial capability and/or financial access but that's not presented as a primary focus.

Here’s a link to the official Website, and the de rigueur YouTube video, featuring U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios follows.

I call your attention to this initiative for a few reasons.

You Develop Financial Mobile Apps

The focus of the app is smack dab in asset managers’ wheelhouse. I suppose a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) company could compete (see the rules). At least your mobile team can keep an eye on the contest's IdeaBank for what online constituencies are looking for. Some of the ideas submitted demonstrate that financial app providers need to do a better job of promoting existing capabilities.

Interest To Date Is Tepid

Launched on June 27, the initiative has attracted only 293 followers, 206 tweets, 466 YouTube video views and seven Facebook likes as of this writing. Not much visibility. This may be more a reflection of the promotion given to the challenge and less a reflection of interest in financial mobile apps. I’m online quite a bit and I just came across mention of it today. To date, just 137 ideas have been submitted. The submission deadline is August 12.

A few tweets by well followed asset manager accounts would no doubt spike some interest.

You Have Relevant Insights

Maybe there’s a leadership role an asset manager can play in this going forward. Call me parochial but I think a mainline investment company could have added to this list of judges:

  • Chris Bishko, Director of Investments, Omidyar Network (a philanthropic investment firm and one of the content sponsors)
  • Jean Chatzky, Personal Finance Journalist
  • Katie Burke Mitic, Platform Marketing, Facebook
  • Sendhil Mullainathan, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • Carol Realini, CEO, Entrepreneur, and Author
  • Jonathan Weiner, Business Development, Payments, Google

Wherever Google And Facebook Go...

An increasing number of conversations are taking place online about financial services, mobile delivery and innovation. To the extent possible and practical, I think there’s a business benefit to asset managers taking an interest and getting involved—even when you don’t initiate let alone control the conversation. As far as financial services delivery goes, when Google and Facebook are in on something, you should be too. This is something that's dawning on payments revenue-reliant retail banks.

P.S. If someone representing this initiative called your company (it's hard to imagine that they didn't reach out to at least a few investment companies), how certain are you that they would have been transferred to the appropriate contact? And, how would you guess that your staff member responded?