Lockdown boosts mobile app downloads

Reported by: |Updated: June 1, 2020

BFSI companies are using social media, special offers, cashback campaigns, etc to promote mobile app downloads:

Gurpreet Sidana

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses as well as their customers to drastically change their selling and buying processes. One of the key developments in this scenario is the visible increase in the share of digital collection done through mobile apps. Experts are of the view that this is bound to go up at a faster rate in FY2021.

Tina Singh of Mahindra Finance says there is significant increase in new user registrations for the company’s app, clearly indicating more adoption of the mobile channel amid COVID-19. “The users of the age group 25-34 years have been the most active ones helping themselves, and their senior family members with all loans and fixed deposits related queries, and payments. In April, our customers in Patna, Pune, Lucknow, Indore and Hyderabad have been the most active one on the app,” says she.

Bank of Baroda caters to 60% of its rural/semi-urban population through its branches and the adoption of mobile banking in rural vs urban is at healthy ratio of 40:60. Akhil Handa says during the lockdown period, the bank has seen a 20% increase in adoption of the appamong customers in rural and semi-urban areas and 25% among metro and urban customers. All the non-resident customers can also avail of mobile banking and the bank is providing mobile banking across 6 different territories/countries.

Religare Broking has observed rise in the use of online platforms, especially its mobile trading app Dynami. Says Gurpreet Sidana: “The mobile app penetration has always been good in urban cities, but since the beginning of the lockdown, we have seen an increase in the usage of our app in tier 2 & 3 cities as well with the number of overall daily users of Dynamic app increasing by about 50%.”

However, Rakesh Wadhwa of Future Generali Life Insurance Co does not see any change in the mobile app downloads during the lockdown.“We have more customers using our self-service option to pay premiums and retrieve policy documents using our customer portal,” says he.


However, this appears to be not the case with others. Says Tina Singh: “The number of downloads of our mobile app is inching towards the half-million milestone, which is significant for an NBFC like ours, which serves predominantly rural customers.”

Bank of Barodatoo has seen increase in active user base of its mobile app by 20% month-on-month.Dynamic of Religare Broking too has shown a whopping increase in the downloads with new downloads getting doubled in the March-April period as compared to February.

K.N.C.Nair of Muthoot Finance adds: “Prior to the lockdown, we have been seeing 3000-4000 downloads daily. During the lockdown period we witnessed the average downloads increasing by 30%-40%.”

Rakesh Wadhwa, however, is emphatic that digital will be the new normal: “By making use of various available online digital platforms and apps, people are only getting adjusted to the new normal,” he says.


BFSI companies have been promoting their mobile apps during the lockdown, highlighting that phones are a safer way to transact and pay in the current situation. These companies are also giving special offers, taking up cashback campaigns and education programs and organizing special promotional initiatives for their customers.

Bank of Baroda has taken multiple steps to promote its mobile banking app with products and services constantly being added in the application to enhance customer convenience. For example, says Akhil Handa, “We have waived off service charges for all transactions done through mobile banking.We have also scheduled cashback campaigns for new customers onboarded using the mobile banking platform.We are planning to run the educative series on social media on the features available in the app.We are also educating customers on Dos and Don’ts during lockdown so that customer awareness is increased.”

After studies on customer behavior, Religare Broking has launched an all new Religare One account which offers a unique pricing plan for Religare Dynami mobile app users. Gurpreet Sidanaspeaks about the features: “All the new clients, including Religare One clients, are offered virtual RM services to handhold and on-board on Dynami app by explaining its features and providing tactical app notifications.”

Mahindra Finance has launched a special marketing campaign in which illustrative videos and creatives are shown to the customers not only to spread awareness about COVID-19 but to demonstrate how customers could seamlessly do all their transactions by using the app. “For a rural customer who have never paid through online modes, we are sharing various videos on how to access one’s account and pay through different digital modes. We have delivered the details through various communication channels – SMS, WhatsApp, call centre, etc.”

She says one of the company’s key business enablers is the ‘Sutradhaar’ initiative led by the direct sales team. Some of the company’s tech-savvy customers act as Sutradhaars, or flag bearers, for helping rural customers use these digital channels. The field team members along with the Sutradhaars handholdthe rural customers and act as guides. This trust-based relationship has helped the company toenhance the usage of its digital channels, she adds.

Rakesh Wadhwa mentions that the call center staff of the company undertakes to inform the customers about various services available on the mobile app. Also, there is massive push from the company’s distributors asking their clients to make use of the mobile app as they are unable to meet in person due to social distancing.

Muthoot Finance mainly uses SMS, social media and app notifications to promote mobile applications. The company has also created awareness campaigns through branch employees.FutureGenerali Life Insurance is sending regular updates to its customers via email and SMS asking them to access their mobile and customer app.

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