The concept of a traditional financial institution has been widely discriminated when challenger banks came into the scene as a viable alternative to the bank account. Dismembered value chain of traditional banks has been replaced by a range of FinTech players providing the same services, often with better user experience and higher efficiency.
Banking licenses have liberated FinTech even more, creating an ecosystem with a FinTech startup for every bank service. Checking account origination is not a monopoly anymore – a range of FinTech players offer an alternative to bank accounts. Those companies are not third parties anymore; they have become primary ‘institutions’ for banking services for a mass of people across the world. Let's look at some of the most interesting bank account alternative providers among FinTechs in Europe:
Worldcore account allows to get paid through bank wire, load any Visa/MasterCard credit or debit card, make online payments, make withdrawals to the Worldcore prepaid debit card and pay bills or buy any goods. Worldcore cards' daily ATM withdrawal limit is 4,000 euros and monthly limit is 120,000 euros. Worldcore has been distinguished as the most promising Central European startup to watch out for in 2016.
The company promises to work round-the-clock to provide the fastest possible turnaround time for people signing up to the payment account via the website. For individual accounts or debit cards, the verification process requires digital copies of the individual’s passport and an address proof.
Worldcore utilizes Thomson Reuters World Check for financial institutions as the back-end verification tool. Worldcore also offers B2B payment services. For businesses that switch their financial flow to Worldcore, internal accounts are automatically pre-created in over 10 currencies and incoming payments are credited accordingly.
Monese is a digital banking service that lets users open a UK banking account on their mobile in minutes regardless of their citizenship. Monese is a UK-based startup that targets immigrants who experience daunting tasks in opening a UK bank account as a foreigner. The mobile banking service established by Estonian Norris Koppel lets users open a current account and get a Visa debit card in just three minutes with a snapshot of their passport and a selfie. Monese’s technology is based on the cloud and removes many of the barriers that legacy banking systems impose.
Founded by Anne Boden, the former Chief Operating Officer of Allied Irish Bank, Starling is aiming to lure mobile-focused customers and provide a superior current account service to those offered by the incumbent high-street banks.
Fidor Bank, based out of Munich in Germany, has been offering virtual accounts to customers since 2009. The company boasts of more than 200,000 customers. Fidor Bank is the lone major player in virtual banking to have its own banking license. Thus, it offers special services like peer-to-peer lending, crowdsourcing and bonus payments for interactions within the community.
Ffrees is a current account with a contactless MasterCard card, sort code and account number, electronic payments in and out, direct debits, standing orders and statements. On top of this, Ffrees has Extra Accounts to reserve and save up funds for payments. The Ffrees product allows users to choose how they want to pay for their service, either on a Pay-As-You-Go Account where there is no monthly fee or a selection of monthly fee options up to £10.
imaginBank is a mobile banking service that lets users control their funds simply and transparently from a smartphone. Joining imaginBank means signing up for an account and a card with no fees and doing all banking transactions from a cell phone app. Users can also use Caixabank ATMs to deposit or withdraw money and consult account via social networks.
Number26 has built the most modern bank account in Europe; it is also the first one that users can manage entirely on the smartphone. N26 allows to open an account in under eight minutes, withdraw from any ATM, withdraw from or deposit to any CASH26 location and get real-time push notifications after every transaction. Every N26 account is guaranteed by the Compensation Scheme of German Banks up to €100.000. The N26 bank account is completely free to open, use and manage. The N26 Mastercard is accepted everywhere in the world that accepts Mastercard.
Tandem is a digital banking startup led by Azimo founder Ricky Knox and Capital One’s Matt Coope. In December 2015, Tandem was granted a license by the Bank of England. Tandem is a banking tech platform that provides consumers with digital banking services like current accounts, credit cards, loans and other features.
Atom is a startup bank. It has been authorized with restrictions by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the PRA. As a mobile-only “challenger bank,” Atom brings biometric banking to the UK, using biometrics instead of passwords in their innovative mobile app. Atom Bank was listed at number eight in KPMG’s Global FinTech Innovators 100. Spanish bank BBVA owns almost 30% of Atom’s stakes. Based in the City of Durham, Atom is working with its partners to bring pioneering technology to Europe for the first time. Atom is building the UK’s first bank designed specifically for the digital realm, offering easy and convenient banking along with unique and engaging ways to manage money.
Hello bank! is a new-generation bank designed to help users to manage their day-to-day finances in the long term. As part of BNP Paribas, the company is underpinned by the financial stability of a European banking leader. The bank offers Hello! Money – a high-yield checking account, which is easy to use for transactions every day, ideal for increasing savings.
Soon is a digital bank that offers a free checking account and allows managing personal funds in innovative ways. The company offers a free Visa card with no minimum income requirements. Soon connects life and money: users can associate transactions with photos, mood, comments, etc. They can easily archive sets of receipts, invoices, guarantees and automatically retrieve statements or bills in addition to a range of other features. Please note that the list is certainly not exhaustive and the LTP Team will gladly expand further reviews with provided information on other challenger banks.