Three Key Takeaways from Sensor Tower’s 2021 State of Payment Apps Report

Three takeaways from Sensor Tower's 2021 State of Payment Apps report.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic resulted in record adoption of payment and money transfer apps in the United States last year, and the space is still seeing elevated lift in early 2021. Sensor Tower’s State of Payment Apps 2021 report, available now, is a deep dive into the evolving trends in this sector of the mobile market, along with analyses of its top publishers and apps.

Top Payment, Money Transfer Apps Hit 34 Million Downloads in Q1

The top 25 digital payment and money transfer apps in the U.S. saw record installs in 2020, climbing 53 percent year-over-year in Q2 2020 to reach more than 35 million. Although adoption slowed toward the end of last year, both categories have still seen quarter-over-quarter growth and reached 34 million downloads in 1Q21, up 22 percent Y/Y from 1Q20.

The top digital payment and money transfer apps in the U.S. saw record installs in 2Q20 when they reached more than 35 million.

Since 2018, Cash App has topped the charts among digital payment and money transfer apps, and it has continued to lead the category into the first quarter this year across the U.S. App Store and Google Play.

Money Transfer App Adoption Remains High

The ongoing pandemic has resulted in widespread financial hardships, as evidenced in part by the surge in adoption of money transfer apps as consumers seek solutions to send and receive funds. Western Union’s mobile app is the category leader in the United States, and its installs climbed 49 percent Y/Y to 485,000 in April 2020. The subcategory’s installs remain elevated this year, as January 2021 was up 44 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

Although digital payment app adoption has outpaced money transfer apps in early 2021, installs for the subcategory remain elevated.

Although money transfer app installs outpaced those of digital payment apps early in the pandemic, the latter saw a spike around the 2020 holiday season and has experienced continued lift. This may be due to brick-and-mortar establishments adopting contactless solutions that enable shoppers to pay using their mobile devices.

Klarna Continues to Lead the Payment Solution Subcategory

Previous Sensor Tower research found that the top buy now, pay later (BNPL) apps saw their U.S. installs and monthly active users climb in 2020. Payment solution app Klarna remains the category leader, accounting for 38 percent of installs among top apps in the U.S. last year and 34 percent of installs in 1Q21.

Klarna continues to lead the payment solution app subcategory.

Although Klarna remains the most downloaded payment solution app, competitor Afterpay is gaining traction. In the first quarter of this year, the app grew its market share to 26 percent of installs from approximately 25 percent in 2020.

For more analysis from the Sensor Tower Store Intelligence platform, including key insights on the performance of payment apps in the U.S. and how publishers are focusing on App Store Optimization in the space, download the complete report in PDF form below:

Download Sensor Tower's The State of Payment Apps 2021 Report