Banking as a Service is a relatively new phenomenon. Still, it is one of the crucial tools powering the digital banking revolution.
The BaaS model allows non-banking institutions to offer checking and savings accounts, debit and credit cards, money transfers, and much more.
It’s basically white-label banking, where a bank or a fintech company offers its financial or banking product(s) for a profit to other fintech companies that put their name on it.
It’s incredibly easy to start a digital bank. All you need to do is to buy third-party services from companies and banks offering this service.
People tend to use open banking and BaaS interchangeably. However, open banking is greater than BaaS and is, in fact, a framework that makes Banking as a Service possible.
Nevertheless, to illustrate how much the global open banking market will expand, its value in 2018 was $7.3 billion and is expected to reach $43+ billion in 2026.
After this brief introduction to BaaS, let’s see what some of the best examples of Banking as a Service worldwide are.
The Bancorp Bank
Bancorp was founded in 1999 as a branchless bank and is now a superstar in digital financial services. It’s perhaps best known for its white-label banking and technology solutions to fintech companies and non-banking businesses.
Challenger banks and fintechs such as SoFi, Oxygen, Netspend, Venmo, Uber, and others rely on Bancorp for their services.
The bank manages $7B+ in assets and has 150M+ active cards in circulation. It’s a pioneer in prepaid card-issuing sponsorship, and the company is the number 1 prepaid card issuer and the 8th largest debit card issuer in the US.
Bancorp offers four pillar solutions:
- Fintech solutions – All-inclusive prepaid and debit card services, payment services, rapid funds transfer, and unparalleled regulatory framework and compliance
- Institutional banking – Checking and deposit services, loan automation, and lending services
- Commercial lending – Lending and leasing solutions to help small business owners and vehicle fleet operators meet their unique business goals
- Real estate bridge lending – Robust balance sheet, in-house underwriting, and credit functions for customized financing solutions
Although all of these aren’t directly relevant to BaaS, they show the scope of Bancorp’s services.
Bancorp’s partnership with Current
Bancorp is or was offering BaaS to many top players in the digital banking space that have combined, tens of millions of users, if not more.
One of those is definitely Current, a digital banking app aimed at the younger demographic and people living from paycheck to paycheck. The company has more than 3 million users and has seen rapid growth.
Current is backed by investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Avenir, Tiger Global Management, Foundation Capital, TQ Ventures, Wellington Management, Sapphire Ventures, QED Investors, and EXPA.
The relationship with The Bancorp means that Current users will receive an improved suite of services across its entire product line.
Bancorp provides back-end banking services and card issuing sponsorship. This enables Current customers to access their funds through physical and virtual debit cards.
Ryan Harris, EVP and Head of Fintech Solutions at The Bancorp, says that “this business collaboration showcases another opportunity for us to bring together technology and innovation from the industry’s leading fintech organizations with The Bancorp’s depth and experience in providing back-end banking services.”
Starling Bank is one of the most successful challenger banks in the UK. It was founded by former AIB COO Anne Boden in January 2014 and received its banking license in 2016.
Not only has this digital bank taken millions of customers from brick-and-mortar banks, but they have also received a much deserved recognition from the industry.
Starling Bank received the Best British Bank award for four consecutive years – 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
The company is correct in saying that, in today’s world, any brand can become a fintech if they pair up with Starling’s award-winning technology and banking platform.
Starling’s BaaS platform, also called SaaS (Starling as a Service) powered by Starling’s API, allows fintech companies to integrate their banking products effortlessly. This way, they can take care of their customers while Starling handles the technical and regulatory demands behind the scenes.
This basically means that Starling takes on all the regulatory aspects, scheme compliance, Anti Money Laundering (AML), and Know Your Customer (KYC) so that companies can zero in on their user interface, customer experience, PR, and marketing.
Starling’s BaaS gives their clients their brand on GBP accounts, FSCS protection up to £85,000, Interest-bearing accounts, Automated AML and KYC, Access to Faster Payments, and BACS.
The bank recently started offering BaaS not only in the UK but in the EU as well, including France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Spain. The company currently has 25 BaaS customers in the UK, including Raisin, CurrencyCloud, Moneybox, and Vitesse.
Starling’s partnership with Raisin
There’s one company that is always mentioned when talking about Starling’s BaaS. It’s their first UK client, Raisin. Raisin is one of Europe’s most successful savings and investment marketplaces. The company connects retail customers with banks looking to expand their deposit reach.
What Raisin got from Starling is streamlined account opening and transaction processing API infrastructure. In short, Raisin uses Starling’s APIs to open accounts for customers, collect their deposits and position them at one of its partner banks that partake in its marketplace.
Raisin’s business model was booming even before economically uncertain times, but now even more so. Hundreds of thousands of people have discovered the Raisin savings platform products as an excellent alternative to zero and negative interest rates.
In recent months, interest rate hikes are making Raisin’s offering even more attractive. To illustrate how successful Raisin has become in Europe, the company took over the MHB-Bank as the sole owner making Raisin the first fintech in Germany to buy a bank.
What this means for Raisin’s European customers is that they will be brought in-house, offering all European customers uniform banking services while also expanding its product offering.
However, Starling is still a strong Raisin partner in the UK and will probably stay one for a long time due to Brexit.
Founded less than 15 years ago, this German fintech company Fidor is now a prolific BaaS provider. It runs on a proprietary OS and a cloud-based modular system.
However, the bank started as a fully digital banking experience to retail and SME customers in Germany, and that’s what it still does as well. The best use case for its BaaS clients is the bank’s own success.
Fidor works with digital asset services such as:
- Digital Asset Exchanges
- Institutional Digital Asset Traders
- Digital Assets Brokers
- Crypto Marketplaces (Peer to Peer Trading)
But also with payment services like:
- E-Commerce Payment Services
- E-Money Wallet and Card Providers
- FX Payments
Fidor’s partnership with Kraken
One of Fidor’s most well-known partners must be the crypto exchange Kraken. Their relationship dates back to 2013, when the two announced an exclusive partnership.
Kraken is one of the largest and oldest Bitcoin exchanges in the world, offering low fees, versatile funding options, and rigorous security standards since 2011.
Fidor was one of the first European banks willing to work directly with the crypto and blockchain industry.
In fact, their forward-thinking and their solution-oriented way of doing business played an important role in the development of not only Kraken but also Bitcoin.de, Trustly, CryptoPay, Coinhouse, Coinfinity, Paysafe, and others.
Fidor is also one of Kraken’s funding providers in Europe, providing support for EUR funding. Both SEPA deposits and withdrawals via Fidor are available as the default option for the exchange’s users.
Solarisbank is the leading BaaS platform in Europe. It’s a tech company with a full banking license in Germany which means it can offer banking services EU-wide.
Their proprietary Banking as a Service platform was built from scratch to make launching new banking products and brands easier than ever.
The company is backed by renowned investors and has raised $350+ million in funding.
Here’s what Solarisbank is bringing to the table for its BaaS customers:
- Neutrality with a B2B2X approach. The client remains the owner of the full customer relationship and marketing.
- Speed & flexibility from simple and self-explanatory API documentation that has clients up and running in no time.
- Modern tech stack based on modern RESTful APIs that can be mixed and matched to suit the clients’ needs.
- Fully licensed bank with no need to carry regulatory burdens of running a licensed bank.
Solarisbank has partnered with many reputable but also up-and-coming brands. Companies such as American Express and Samsung are the biggest names the bank has worked with.
However, it’s the digital banks where Solarisbank is shining. It helped bring to market and expand popular European neobanks such as Tomorrow (100,000+ customers), Penta (25,000+ business customers), Nuri (200,000+ users), and Vivid (500,000+ users).
Solarisbank’s partnership with Vivid
Vivid is a challenger bank from Germany that is currently also present in Spain, France, and Italy. Their plan is to add five more in 2022 and to be available across all of Europe by the end of 2023.
At the time of writing this, they already amassed more than half a million users and plan to add 500,000 more by the end of the year.
That’s an almost unparalleled growth in Europe, reminiscent only of Revolut. However, all of this probably wouldn’t be possible without their trusted BaaS partner Solarisbank.
By leveraging Solarisbank’s ability to passport its banking services to the entire EEA, Vivid could easily expand to France, Italy, and Spain just months after its German launch.
Vivid got everything needed for a successful launch of an ambitious challenger bank from scratch under one roof. SB’s Digital Banking API lets Vivid’s clients:
- Deposit or withdraw money at cash registers,
- Open numerous sub-accounts for easy savings and for managing spending habits,
- Set their own card limits and even block and unblock their card at any time,
- Get real-time alerts when transfers arrive, direct debits are made, or card transactions are completed
READ ALSO: 6 Ways Digital Banking Helps You Save Money
Treezor is a Paris-based Banking as a Service platform and a “one-stop-shop payment solution.”
The French fintech got acquired by the Societe Generale group in 2019 due to its innovative know-how.
Treezor embeds tech, regulatory, and security aspects into its offering to deliver API access to the entire payment chain, from receiving to issuing payments.
Treezor’s core banking gives aspiring companies the opportunity to swiftly develop innovative financial products with sparing investments, risks, and development duration.
Its API solution simplifies integration and avoids complex connections to banking systems to stay laser-focused on the UX.
Treezor is also in charge of the KYC procedure and is therefore able to open accounts for customers and assign each person a wallet with a dedicated IBAN, and a payment card.
In fact, Treezor is also the issuer of any virtual, plastic, custom, personalized, or even co-branded cards. All of them are compatible with Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay wallets.
Connected to the above, Treezor is in control of the myriad of reports mandated by the scheme and the wallet providers. The company furthermore processes all card payments and handles all the charge-back hassle as the card issuer.
Likewise, Treezor is a Principal Member of the Mastercard network and issues prepaid or debit cards to individuals or companies.
The Treezor platform processes all SEPA payments in euros according to the French banking calendar and the cut-off times defined by the Lead Bank. Fintechs can access all SEPA payment methods by linking to the Treezor API according to the options and the risks with the project.
Treezor’s partnership with Qonto
In April 2016, Qonto launched a bank account for business clients, the first of its type in France. In 2019, Qonto extended its services to Germany, Italy, and Spain.
The fintech helps businesses and entrepreneurs to quickly and without effort open a business account, as well as to obtain payment cards and accounting services.
Qonto is an outstanding business account for companies looking to streamline and advance their banking procedures without paying excessive fees.
With diverse tailored packages designed to suit businesses in an array of sizes, the app offers a range of distinguished services to help with accounting and budget management.
In Europe, the segment of the SME bank account market is valued at €30 billion and in 2021, Qonto actually became a unicorn. In fact, the company is valued at around $5 billion!
This happened all on the back of Treezor because of its API and its Electronic Money Institution license that helped launch a fully digital offer for entrepreneurs and SMEs.
Banking as a Service, or BaaS, is a once in a lifetime opportunity for existing banks and fintech companies that are looking to provide this service, or benefit from it.
Banks that offer BaaS can reach a greater number of customers and profit greatly by teaming up with non-financial businesses but also fintech companies.
However, BaaS could also put them in danger, as it opens up the financial services market to new challengers.
Incumbent banks and other financial institutions need to be wise about how to enter this lucrative and rapidly expanding business, so they don’t shoot themselves in the foot.
Once these fintech companies become more powerful and have more money, they usually seek a banking license of their own or simply acquire a small bank so they can offer all of the banking services in-house with no need for their BaaS partner that kick-started their journey.
The cat’s out of the bag and fintech companies and BaaS are transforming the banking and financial landscape in almost every country on earth.