We have researched and used dozens of digital banks around the world in the last couple of years. For this reason, we can bring you this overview of the Argentinian digital banking market that is still small but rapidly growing year over year.
Truth be told, digital banks in Argentina still have a long way to go. However, they are already offering solid payments accounts and debit or credit cards.
Digital banks are often referred to as neobanks, virtual banks, mobile banks, fintech companies, and challenger banks. They are entirely online and have no physical branches.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing as their customer service is available directly through the app, by email, or by telephone.
Unlike traditional banks, digital banks don’t have large decades-old infrastructures that would take years to update to new technology. This means that digital banks are updating their service and rolling out new features all of the time to benefit their users.
Let’s see what the best digital banks in Argentina are.
Best digital banks in Argentina
- Easy to register online
- Instant money transfers
- Pay in installments
- Budgeting and analytics tools
- Almost no fees
Brubank was founded in 2017 and got its license from CBA in September 2018. The fintech company was founded by Juan Bruchou, Citi Bank CEO in Argentina.
They only offer a spending account with a Visa debit card. They also follow digital banking best practices by having no account opening fees and no monthly maintenance fees and offer free and instant money transfers, free ATM and Extra Cash withdrawals, and free bill payments.
Arguably the only things that will cost you are ATM withdrawals abroad at US$ 6.05 per withdrawal and a $90.75 card replacement fee.
The app also has an extensive budgeting and analytics tool that lets you clearly see where your money is going.
If you’re looking for a no-frills payments account, Brubank will serve its purpose.
- Free pesos and dollar account
- Fixed term savings account
- Debit and credit cards
- Invest in dollars
Reba offers a multi-currency account that lets you hold pesos and dollars. And not only that, you can seamlessly invest into dollars as well. You can choose from Dólar Solidario and Dólar Bolsa.
The account comes with virtual cards that you can use straight away with your app to buy things in-store or online. But, you can also order a physical Visa debit card.
If you’re looking for more, Reba also has four American Express credit cards on offer:
- .re Green – free
- .re Gold – $176 + vat per month
- .re Platinum – $597 + vat per month
- .re Black – $867 + vat per month
.re Green credit card is free to get and has no renewal or maintenance fees. The rest of the credit cards add some benefits in assistance, gastronomy, airport lounges, and concierge. Or benefits in travel, assistance to the home, and public roads.
You can create your Fixed Term savings account in pesos or dollars from the app. Choose from 1 to 3 months, after which you get your money back plus an extra in interest.
Reba is also a simple account that lets you invest in a rudimentary fixed-term savings account and lets you invest in dollars.
- Easy to open an account
- Free money transfers
- Free Mastercard
- Pay bills and recharge prepaid services
- Budgeting and analytics tools
Ualá has been founded by a well-known Argentinian entrepreneur and historian Pierpaolo Barbieri in 2017. It has since expanded rapidly by offering a simple payments account and a prepaid Mastercard.
There are no monthly fees, no fees to open or maintain an account, close an account, make transfers between Ualá users, top-up funds, and no fees on your first ATM withdrawal per month.
Read more in our Ualá review.
- Open an account in minutes
- Savings account
- Fixed term saving
- Debit and credit card
- Discounts and promotions
- Pay in installments
Wilobank offers a savings account that’s coupled with debit and credit cards. They also offer a Fixed Term UVA Precancelable with a minimum term of 90 days and a minimum amount of $1000.
The Wilobank savings accounts come almost entirely without fees. Most notably, there are no opening or maintenance fees, no domestic ATM fees, no transfer fees, and even the card replacement fee is non-existent.
Benefits of digital banks
There are many benefits of digital or mobile banks. The first one is that they’re competition for established banks that are set in their ways and can charge however much they want for their financial services.
Yes, digital banks in Argentina have almost no fees and certainly no fees for day-to-day banking. What’s the point of paying high fees to traditional banks for the services that you don’t even use.
Digital banks offer far fewer financial products, but it’s the ones that you’ll be actually using. They’re therefore much easier to use and more convenient. The registration process is usually done in minutes, and you can use your account straight away. Even without a physical card, you can pay online and in-store.
The ability to apply for a bank account online is not the only convenient thing. Pretty much everything else that involves your finances can be done from your sofa as well, including applying for a mortgage. Open your banking app, find the menu, and you’re halfway there.
All of these financial apps also have the highest security standards that include secure logins via fingerprint or 2FA and real-time notifications every time you spend with your app or card.
Another benefit is the budgeting and analytics feature that helps you see exactly where your money is going and on what category you’re spending the most money (rent, restaurants, take-away, car…). You can set limits so that you don’t overspend and can save a few pesos.
Of course, there are more benefits of digital banks in Argentina and worldwide, but let’s see what some of the negative aspects are.
Drawbacks of digital banks
Most digital banks in Argentina were founded less than five years ago. They are all still very young companies that are doing their best to bring mobile banking to the country.
They have fewer financial products that they offer their customers. Some of them are missing a thing or two while they are offering some other services. While a digital bank will have loans, for instance, it might be missing mortgages or savings accounts and vice versa.
If a mobile bank has investing features, it might be missing a savings account. That doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. Not everyone needs savings, investing, mortgages, loans, and so on from their bank account. Sometimes, simpler is better.
Customer service might also lag a bit behind. Traditional banks aren’t perfect in this regard as well, so that’s a negative for both new and old institutions.
How safe is digital banking?
Many people are still skeptical towards digital banks. They often ask how safe they are and if their deposits are secure as well.
Digital banks are generally not real banks but rather financial technology companies, and for that reason, the Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGD) does not extend to them and doesn’t insure their customers’ deposits.
Nevertheless, digital banks have to keep customer deposits in separate accounts in big banks where neither they nor the banks where the money is being kept can’t use it to invest in other things. They can only use it for the original purpose, and it has to be accessible at all times.
This is arguably the best method to keep the deposits safe, as in the case a bank bankrupts, the money can be returned to customers no matter what. At least in principle.
Digital banks around the world and in Argentina are at the forefront of banking safety and security and utilize the latest technology to battle cybercriminals.
How to get started with digital banking
It’s extremely easy to apply for a digital banking account. You don’t even have to go anywhere. From the comfort of your sofa, download the mobile banking app and get started. The whole process lasts only a couple of minutes.
You will need to be an Argentinian resident, over 18 years old (in some cases younger if you have guardians’ approval), and have a valid government-issued ID. You’ll need to fill out the basic information about yourself and take a selfie and a photo of the ID.
The bottom line
Argentinian digital banking market has started to wake up, gradually. And, although it’s far from mature, the few independent mobile banks on the market will be a good choice for the undemanding, and probably younger, customer.
It’s easy to see the potential in the 45 million people that call Argentina their home. Many of them are still unbanked or underbanked. If Argentine digital banks take notice from their neighbor Nubank, they might become a huge Latin American financial player and even a unicorn.
Although, they’ll have to hurry up because Nubank is moving to Argentina as well, and that might become a massive problem for the domestic players.