Mobile Crowdfunding Apps or Why Platforms Hesitate to Launch Them
Mobile crowdfunding apps seem to be not so popular among crowdfunding platforms worldwide. Is it because crowdfunding apps are hard to maintain or because nobody wants them? That’s something we are about to research.
At LenderKit, we’ve been building a mobile crowdfunding app as an additional product which could work seamlessly with the crowdfunding software that we offer. We started out with an “inform-only” app that doesn’t allow potential investors to pledge money using the mobile app. Primarily, because it’s a prototype of a mobile crowdfunding application, but as we are progressing further, there’s a need to understand the nitty gritty of it.
So, our marketing team has gone on a research journey to study the largest crowdfunding platforms and their experience with the mobile crowdfunding applications. Here’s what we’ve found out.
What you will learn in this post:
StartEngine, an equity crowdfunding platform in the US, released a mobile crowdfunding app for IOS devices and it’s available on the App Store. Currently, the app is rated at 4.8 of 5 stars and has over 2,000 reviews. The number of downloads is not as easy to find, but it should be pretty good.
StartEngine is one of those examples of an actually working investment application that users seem to enjoy, despite some occasional “IT’S A SCAM” hate-bombs that are hard to avoid in the crowdfunding sector.
It seems that StartEngine is on the GOOD side of the crowdfunding apps, but with one remark. It’s only available for IOS and not Android users.
Caleb Naysmith, the Head of Startup News at Benzinga, Founder of Democratizing.Finance, has put it nicely:
The fact that StartEngine crowdfunding app was released somewhere in 2021, according to the publication of the article by Caleb, tells that 2 years are not enough to launch an Android app or simply unnecessary.
If we talk about the actual feedback from the users, here are the things to take into account:
- The app is very useful, but basic
- In 2021, the app redirected even existing users to create a new account. StartEngine responded that the app is for users who wish to angel invest and trade shares of startups, so maybe the reviewer didn’t have the right investor category.
- Category results are loading slowly and the app crashes sometimes, but apart from it everything else is working fine
Also, there were some other design and usability recommendations, but you could consider StartEngine a success.
Crowdcube is a UK-based equity crowdfunding platform for startups that released a mobile investment app in 2016, but closed it 2 years later in 2018. The company explained it simply — they’d rather focus on providing better experience through their web portal instead of spreading efforts onto the mobile app too.
In fact, they claim to have received decent early traction from the audience and investors did want to have a mobile app. However, Crowdcube decided to put down the mobile investment app anyway.
User reviews may or may not have played a role in this decision, but as Altfi puts it — the reviews have not been kind.
If you visit Crowdcube’s website, you’ll find out that the story is deeper than the not so grand finale. Crowdcube’s IOS app was able to document a success of “5 million pounds invested through the app” which is pretty good for an MVP or prototype. So it was not a quick “rise and fall” as one may expect.
In fact, Crowdcube was building native mobile applications for both IOS and Android which are known to be more complicated to manage and update. Depending on the chosen programming language this may need a few adjustments or a complete rewrite of the code. As we know from the article about programming languages that crowdfunding platforms use, the Crowdcube’s choice might have been React Native.
Seedrs is a Crowdcube’s competitor in the UK equity crowdfunding market and they even wanted to merge until the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided for them, so Seedrs was acquired by Republic instead.
If we are talking about Seedrs investment mobile apps, the company actually has both of them for IOS and Android.
On Google, you can see it has over 1,000 downloads and on the App Store you can find some actual user reviews and a 4.3 rating.
The reviews are slightly controversial, some say the app is good while others claim it’s useless because “no investments are shown in the dashboard” and you need to log in using the web account.
Other than this, the app seems functional and actually allows people to invest despite some functionality recommendations regarding portfolios.
Wefunder is a US-based crowdinvesting platform that was founded in 2011 and in 2023 expanded to Europe. Wefunder has a crowdfunding mobile app for Android and IOS with over 10,000 downloads on Google Play and a 4.2 rating on the App Store.
While the first impression of the Wefunder’s crowdinvesting application seems promising, users on Google Play don’t seem to agree with this. The 200+ reviews have scored the app at 1.3 stars for some reason.
The major concerns of the app users are:
- The app is buggy and crashes a lot at the Account and Portfolio sections
- Content is hard to read
- Doesn’t show the history of transactions in the app
- No Google login through the app. A user registered the profile using a Google account on the web version and couldn’t access the account through the app.
To be fair, there are also positive sides of the app that include:
- Users can register through the app
- Browse startups
- Make actual investments
The crowdinvesting app by Wefunder looks like it could be successful and it’s a great start. Of course, it’s hard to estimate the actual performance and business validity of the app, but it’s available for the clients.
Fundrise is a real estate investment platform that has over 100,000 downloads of its mobile app and a 4.3 rating from more than 2,700 reviews. Fundrise is one of those examples of successful mobile real estate investment apps that everybody wants to have.
One reason for the success of this application is that the company is focusing on portfolio investing instead of pure match-funding that the above-mentioned crowdfunding platforms pursue.
The business model of Fundrise and probably the app’s overall usability is what allows this whole thing to work.
Fundrise real estate investment app has it all — browsing, investing, setting up auto-investments, withdrawing, topping up the balance, etc. According to the user reviews, it also seems to be pretty intuitive and user-friendly.
Should you build a mobile crowdfunding app?
Investment platforms believe that a mobile app introduces a new way to work with an audience and attract potential investors and fundraisers on a scale.
Many platforms have tried launching crowdinvesting apps for real estate or startup financing, but only a few have been successful.
What’s often not taken into account is that it’s technically more demanding to maintain a fully-functional and operational mobile-focused product. So, in addition to the existing web crowdfunding platform, companies would also need to serve the mobile investment app and that requires more resource-planning and a clearer development roadmap.
The benefits of launching a mobile crowdfunding app may not be easy to track because the ultimate job of a match-funding platform is to provide tools for investors and fundraisers to access alternative financing or build wealth online.
A mobile app is simply a tool and can be an enhancement to an already operating platform or it can be a standalone project. Regardless of the path, technology with a development team behind the product can play a vital role in freeing the resources needed to run a business.
While you focus on the business side, LenderKit can cover up your technical aspects and become a reliable partner that provides white-label crowdfunding software with a potential to expand to a mobile crowdinvesting app.
If you’d like to build your own platform or launch an investment app, reach out to our fintech strategist for more details.