Playing the PFM Adoption Numbers Game

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17 July 2013
Jacob Jegher
I was very intrigued by an American Banker article that was published yesterday - Answering Call for PFM, Tenn. Bank Rewarded with 25% Adoption Rate. The article talks about a 25% PFM adoption rate at Wilson Bank & Trust. This stat certainly sounds positive given some of the adoption figures we have seen to date. The article did however raise a key question. What really is PFM adoption? If banks succeed at PFM online banking they are going to be measuring online banking adoption and engagement. Yes, usage of specific PFM tools can be tracked, but I am more interested in how PFM is blended into the overall online banking experience. The good news is that American Banker has done a great job at digging a little deeper into the figures:
The bank has seen more than 25% of its roughly 20,000 active online banking users adopt the tool. (People sign up through online banking.) Wilson defines active online banking users as those who use online banking during the month.
The bad news is that this metric can be very misleading. I am impressed by the use of a 30 day active statistic for online banking - it's a good metric. Many banks will use a 60 or 90 day term when referring to active users. I did however get stuck on the PFM adoption stat of 25% of active online banking users. What does adoption mean in this case? That the user clicked on the tool? Signed up? Set up a budget? Viewed a demo? I don't know the answer but I am skeptical that the PFM adoption metric and online banking metric are an apples to apples comparison. In other words, I am questioning if 25% of PFM users are actually 30 day active for PFM tools. Perhaps Wilson Bank & Trust can shed some additional light on this. 25% active use of PFM tools (as a subset of active OLB users) is a pretty decent stat. This would be worthy of further exploration if Wilson Bank & Trust has achieved this.


  • Jacob,

    Great point, adoption stats are thrown around all the time without enough detail to be valuable. To answer your question, MoneyDesktop defines active PFM users as those who have used the tool in the last 90 days. That's the range we found most of our clients used in determining their active online banking usership. Hope that helps!


  • Erin, thanks for your comment. Is the bank using your metric?

    This does confirm my suspicions of an apples to oranges comparison. Thank you.

  • Jacob,

    In my opinion, one good way to measure is to understand how knows which customers are true adopters vs. partial or inactive.

    Because they are the ones who have found a way to monetize this adoption by cross-selling products from the partner banks.


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