For a brief moment, the world stood still and multi-banking apps faced extinction. The reason for this was Apple’s release of the new App Store guidelines and the changes that came with it. Nothing less than the demise of all multibanking apps was up for discussion. The end of Outbank, finanzblick, Finanzguru and Co seemed to be a sealed deal. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that Apple restrictively bullied the developers of the world and so analogies were quickly made to the blockade attitude regarding opening the NFC interface for mobile payments. While the latter, despite government interference, is now no longer an issue for banks (since they started profiting from Apple Pay), last week saw the supposed demise of all multibanking apps. But what had happened?
Multi-banking apps: changes to App Store guidelines
The bone of contention is the new statements in section 3.2.1(viii) of the App Store Guidelines which now state:
Apps, die für den Finanzhandel, die Geldanlage oder die Geldverwaltung verwendet werden, sollten von dem Finanzinstitut stammen, das diese Dienstleistungen erbringt.
This change gave rise to discussion. Because when you’re supposed to do something, it feels like you have to, and so the change led to unrest for one or two providers from a 3rd banking app. But not only there, also banks saw themselves forced to examine internally, what this guideline has to mean exactly. After all, quite a few banks offer their customers a multibanking function, which would then no longer be possible. In general, cooperations with e.g. fintechs would be more difficult. Would an account switching service still be OK? Will you be allowed to dock at a fintech’s trading interface in the future? Questions about questions. Because before, the directive was worded more openly, almost more friendly. Because it said:
Well then? Nothing definite is known. What is known, however, is what is in the new guidelines. For one thing, it doesn’t say that anything was explicitly prohibited. The omission of an option is not the prohibition of it. Secondly, it states very clearly “should originate from the financial institution providing these services”. Should is not must. Not mentioning an option doesn’t mean a ban on multi-banking apps, and Apple has expressed to Heise that “the rules for finance apps remain the same, the updated version is meant to help better understanding.” Now, of course, you can unpack the speculative and the great conspiracy (t)smell, or just leave the church in the village.
External 3rd party apps, in the worst case, are no longer allowed to use a public interface, but “must” use official APIs. But that is regulated in the PSD2 anyway. Therefore: Raider is now called Twix, nothing else changes. Internationally, by the way, the topic is not considered further and also there are solutions such as mint.com, which would be affected by it, there you hear nothing about it. First and foremost, the question is: what would Apple gain from restricting this? Of course banking has everyday relevance, of course you can imagine all sorts of things in an ecosystem, but did Apple ban apps like Stocard to make its own wallet strong? Did Apple ban Spotify to push people into Apple Music? Did Netflix get kicked out of the store because there’s Apple TV+? No. Of course not. That’s why multibanking apps will continue to exist. And once you look at the prevalence of apps, the thought “what does the oak tree care if the sow scratches it” inevitably comes up.