Europe's Challenger Banks

The current mobile bank landscape in EU

With a wide range of mobile-first fully-digital banks (also known as "neobanks") battling traditional brick-and-mortar financial institutions for consumers every day, 2020 might be the last year where a consumer would be able to get an extremely lucrative offer from a range of newcomers. Financial experts claim that the recent entrants to the banking industry would not be able to sustain consistently losing money on new customers, thus, digital revolutionaries would be forced to increase the prices in the later part of 2020.

What makes digital banks so attractive?

Mobile banking is vastly different

The exact answer to the question above depends on the use cases and varies for everyone. However, there are some benefits that would apply for everyone. For starters, it's an ability to open an account in less than 10 minutes and have a card mailed to you within a couple of days. Not ever needing to call the bank or visit a branch is also a massive plus. On top of that, these banks usually provide support in-app (which, in some cases, like at bunq, is available in 7+ languages). Most of them also have sleek modern apps that make it easy to track where your money goes. For example, N26 from Germany automatically categorizes your transactions and gives you insights on your spending habits.

What's going on right now?

Challenger banks are booming, and the banking sector in the whole world has changed dramatically. These financial institutions have for the past few years brought about positive disruptions to the banking industry. They have made it possible for their customers (who they mostly call "users") to operate fully digital personal (current and savings) and business accounts online. Some have extended the range of services offered far beyond what the typical current account would imply, making it possible to gain access to credit cards, overdrafts, cryptocurrencies and even property mortgages.

Flag of European Union

Thus, when deciding on the bank to pick out of them all, you will therefore want to first evaluate your finances and goals. Do you want to get the best interest rate? Or do you value the day-to-day convenience more? Or is it an ability to have a joint account with your spouse that excites you? You will first need to figure out whether you are looking for money management app, an alternative current account, an additional debit card or a savings plan, then come back to our challenger bank comparison page and match your needs with whatever bank suits you most.

Who are the biggest names in European digital banking?

Comparison of growth of mobile banks

Launched back in 2015, Revolut might be considered a heavyweight in digital banking - in December 2019, UK-based bank claimed to have 10 million users, remaining one of the largest challenger banks in the market. N26 from Germany boasted reaching a milestone of 5 million users, of which 250'000 in the US. Which is an impressive feat, however, the definition of "users" might be a bit open to interpretation.

How to choose a bank? And is it hard to switch?

Simply put, no, it's actually pretty easy! Most of these banks offer same-day account opening with an additional ability to utilize Bank Switch Service, where your new bank handles everything, including redirecting the direct debits (think gym membership, your cell contract and such) to the new account automatically. You'll also get a virtual card to use (as well as Apple/Google Pay) available immediately. All in all, there's not much hassle (and even less downtime) involved in switching unless you have a complicated situation with, say, your mortgage involved.

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