Digital banks are the future of the banking world – and with hundreds of options now flooding the market with added benefits, additional extras and increased practicality, now is a better time than ever to invest in a digital banking service over a traditional banking institution. Whether you’re looking to cut costs, improve your options for travel, or simply source a new financial alternative for your business, digital banks are the ideal choice.
Curious about digital banks, or want to know if they’re the best fit for your needs? Read on to find out more about what digital banks are, availability around the world, whether these services are secure, and more:
Digital banks are an online-only alternative to brick-and-mortar banks, providing everything you need to bank successfully directly from your smartphone or through a desktop browser application. Designed to meet modern requirements for banking – and to provide a viable, more affordable, and often more practical alternative to old-school banks – digital banking is gaining popularity on every corner of the globe. If you don’t yet have a digital bank account, it’s likely that someone you know already does.
While digital banks do lack the physical location of longer-established banking services, for many users transitioning towards online-only banking is already a reality even for mainstream banks. Most banking services can be carried out online for many standard banks. Still, generally, there’s a disconnect in the quality of service they offer in comparison to digital-based banking products. So, if you’re switching to a digital-only bank, you’re just getting ahead of the curve.
Digital banks have practically all the same functionalities as a more traditional banking service. In some cases, digital banks can even provide services, rates, or offers that other banks can’t match. Making them an even more appealing prospect and even more practical for customers worldwide. Digital banks aren’t going away anytime soon, and with proper regulation now in place for much of the world, they’re only going to become more popular over time.
There are many benefits to making the switch to a digital bank, especially in comparison to the often less current services of a traditional banking platform. The first and probably most obvious benefit to a digital bank is that everything is done 100% online. No need to make an appointment to set up an account, or travel to a physical location for your banking. Your smartphone or desktop is all you need to access everything digital banking has to offer.
Online availability goes hand-in-hand with 24/7 accessibility – which other than occasional maintenance downtime all online banking platforms offer. If you want to sort your finances at one in the morning, you can do so – no standing in queues or waiting for opening hours required. This also means you can carry out essential tasks as and when needed, whether it’s transferring money to pay a bill or freezing your card if it’s lost and frozen. Everything’s done online, with no need to go elsewhere to complete the process.
Digital banks are also convenient in their speed. You can open an account in minutes in most cases, even with full ID checks and confirmations as required. Far more efficient than a typical bank account opening process, digital banking can be an excellent way to set up an account quickly and efficiently without ever needing to enter a real-world bank or fill out lengthy forms. Simply provide the details, upload a form of ID, and in most cases, you’re good to go.
Another significant benefit of choosing a digital bank account is the lower costs. Digital banking often offers excellent exchange rates, low fees, and even customizable tiers depending on your usage and the specific bank. While old-school banks have set rates that are often higher than you’d like, digital banks are highly competitive. They aim to offer you the best value for your money, and low fees are all a part of that customer service.
Finally, digital banking is a great option for those planning to travel. Whether it’s regular jet setting or traveling for work, digital banks are often far more suited to be used in multiple locations around the world in comparison to a standard bank account. This flexibility is an excellent benefit for customers, and it’s not unheard of for individuals to open digital banking account specifically to use when traveling abroad.
Overall, digital banking offers different things to customers than a typical bank account. If you’re after accessibility, convenience, and practicality, then digital banks are an excellent fit for you. While real banks aren’t going anywhere, they certainly recognize the benefit of digital banking more than ever – both through the development of their own apps and online banking, as well as through partnerships with specific digital banking services.
Digital banking may be more popular in some locations than others, but it’s a worldwide phenomenon. With thousands of people using digital banking services every day – and more signing up – digital banks are the global answer to convenient, practical, and affordable banking from your smartphone or computer. What does digital banking look like in different places are the world? Here are the basics:
Digital banking is hugely popular in Europe. Both for use in day-to-day transactions and for those that travel to different countries for work or personal reasons. Europe is less consistent in regulation than other locations, with individual countries having higher financial requirements than others. But overall, certain online banks have become a staple of European personal finance, offering better rates, better accessibility, and the ability for use in different countries across the continent.
European digital banks of note include Revolut, N26, Monese, Monzo, Bunq, and TransferWise. Developed for a specifically European or UK audience, Revolut boasts over 10 million customers, making it incredibly popular within Europe. TransferWise offers support for multiple currencies as well as worldwide availability, as you’ll see with our other country overviews. N26, Bunq, Monese, and Monzo are all more middle-of-the-road solutions but are popular options, nonetheless.
LThe UK is well-known for having a booming digital banking market, with many services carrying over from Europe as well as their own UK-exclusive services. With a higher standard of regulation under HMRC and financial authorities, any UK-based banking service, online bank account UK or otherwise, has to meet specific stringent requirements. Digital banking is an increasingly popular addition to typical bank accounts as well as an alternative, providing multiple options for financial management.
The most popular digital banking platforms to be found in the UK are Monzo and Starling Bank, both UK-based companies that cater to the country first and foremost. With both advertising the ability to create pots or mini savings accounts within their platform to promote better finances and provide a better division of income. Also, services like Revolut, Monese, and TransferWise are all popular options for UK customers that are widely used in Europe.
The USA is often considered the heart of digital banking, with a wide range of different online banks that have been created for this country, as well as for Canada. Often, banking services within North America are paired with existing banking institutions to offer specific features – whether it’s a type of card, or simply ownership by a larger-scale business from creation or through acquisition. Due to specific financial regulations and requirements, there’s not much crossover between America-based digital banking services and those found elsewhere in the world – though there are a few exceptions to this rule.
Popular options for digital banking in the US and Canada include Chime Bank, MoneyLion, Simple, VaroMoney, Current, and Marcus. Each of these accounts is designed specifically for their functionality in the US, allowing you to open a bank account online freely for fast and convenient access. Besides, N26 is a widely use banking service in Europe as well as in North America, making it the ideal choice for international travelers thanks to its greater versatility.
In comparison to other forms of technology, Asia isn’t particularly ahead of the curve when it comes to online banking, with many of the locations throughout Asia still relying on traditional banking for day-to-day use. However, new online banking services have emerged in both Hong Kong and Singapore, offering additional functionality to residents through smartphone-based banking. ZA Bank, neat.hk, and Revolut are rapidly increasing in popularity, though they aren’t yet as ingrained as services in Europe and North America.
While digital banking hasn’t quite reached every corner of the globe yet, it’s well on its way to becoming a viable option for individuals and businesses worldwide. With Africa and the Middle East also taking their first steps towards going digital with their banking, the rest of the world will soon catch up to Europe and North America in terms of options available and functionality of service.
Digital business bank accounts are much like their offline counterparts, offering a dedicated, accessible place for business banking. Switching to an online free business bank account has much of the same benefits as a personal digital banking service. Lower costs, better accessibility, and far easier management – with everything available at the swipe of a finger or click of a mouse.
For businesses that are already moving their processes digitally, picking the best business bank account that offers digital services is the ideal choice. Companies such as Monzo, TransferWise, and Bunq offer business accounts in addition to their personal accounts, which are suitable for smaller companies where it makes sense to learn and use one type of service for both sets of requirements. With a great deal of functionality and instant clarity on what’s going in and out of your business, digital bank accounts are an excellent way to keep a handle on company finances.
Beyond apps and banking services that have extended their platform to offer business banking, a whole group of new business-only banking services has cropped up in recent years. Services such as Tide.co, Penta, Anytime, Holvi, and Qonto are all specifically geared towards business banking services, with UI designs and features ideally suited for that purpose. Even better, these dedicated business bank accounts are designed to make day-to-day finance easier, as well as reduce overall banking costs from day one.
Digital business banking services vary in comparison to personal online banking apps and platforms in terms of capacity in many cases. While a personal account will generally have a low amount of transactions, a business account may have high-value or commonplace transactions. This is often reflected in the tiers a company offer for its business banking services. Often, these are flexible and highly competitive, allowing you to find the best deal for your business depending on your exact requirements and ongoing business growth and needs.
Practically all digital banking services offer a bank card as part of setting up an account with them. These include digital cards – which can be scanned with a compatible contactless system from a smartphone – as well as physical cards. Typically, the cards that digital banks provide are Visa or MasterCards. As the most versatile and compatible card types on the planet, this allows the user to use their account card in all the same ways they would a traditional banking card.
Depending on your online bank of choice, your bank card may have added benefits. These could include great exchange rates when used abroad, cashback in specific stores, and even cashback on mileage. Travel insurance and low fees are additional benefits of these types of cards, which in many cases old-school banks simply can’t match. In many cases, the contactless version of your account card is all you need to make purchases, but for ATMs and use abroad, having a physical card can undoubtedly come in handy.
The most significant plus point to these kinds of cards is the control you get. If you lose or have a traditional bank card stolen, you often need to go into a branch or phone up to cancel that card – which takes time. By contrast, most virtual bank account cards are controlled through your account. You can block or freeze your card immediately at any time, adding that additional layer of security to the service should the worst happen.
If you’re after something more on the flashy side, then premium cards for online banking might just appeal to you. These aluminum or metal cards are often provided for premium account holders. However, some banks may offer it as a general perk if their target is a particularly high-end customer base. Popular services Revolut, Bunq, and N26 all offer a premium card version to their customers, with stylish metal cards as well as the typical digital card available through user’s smartphones.
There is often concern around the safety and security of online banking in comparison to setting up an account with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. But in reality, digital banks are just as secure, reliable, and professional as any in-person service you might receive. Online banking platforms like Monese, Revolut, and Holvi are fully regulated under Electronic Money Institutions, which carry strict guidelines and requirements for security and privacy of users.
While digital-only, some of the banking services available are registered as full-blown banks, making them just as legitimate as any other bank within their financial regulatory authority. Bunq, N26, and Monzo are all examples of online banking platforms that are banks in their own right, providing a degree of reassurance to their customers when it comes to the safety of their money.
Finally, for US customers, many digital banking services are created in partnership – or purchased at a later date – by large-scale, well-established banks. Chime Bank, as well as Current and Simple, are all partnered with existing financial services. This means they’re an extension of those services, with the same stringent regulations and requirements as any in-person banking platform.
With so many options and global accessibility, digital banking is only going to get bigger and better. Whether you’re an early adopter or just considering online banking now, there are plenty of options to pick from. Check out our full reviews of digital banking services to find something that’s the best fit for you.
If you’re an individual looking for a personal bank account, or a small business wanting to make the switch to digital, choosing to apply for a bank account online is a great idea. It’s the fastest, most effective way to access comprehensive services quickly: no lengthy processes, no in-person appointments, and no long wait times. Banking through digital services is the future – and now’s the time to get ahead.