Several digital and conventional banks in the UAE allow users to open bank accounts digitally and enable convenient transactions. Liv, Mashreq Neo and E20 are among the most popular digital banks in the country.
Here I selected the best digital banks for every type of account:
- Best Personal Digital Account – Liv Bank
- Best Business Digital Account – E20
- Best Offering both Personal and Business Accounts – Wio (New)
- Great Alternative for Personal and Business Accounts – Yap
Keep reading to learn more about digital banking and for a longer list of digital banks in the UAE.
The UAE has one of the most robust banking sectors in the Middle East. The fast growing gulf country has 46 commercial banks offering financial services to the users. Several of these banks have embarked on providing digital banking solutions by allowing online account opening facilities to their users.
Digital banking has taken off in a big way in the UAE: almost every bank or financial institution offers some kind of digital banking option these days. It’s a booming sector, with more and more services available by phone, online, and through apps.
As the majority of UAE citizens lead busy lives, the convenience of digital banking is becoming increasingly attractive. Customers can manage their accounts easily on the go and may also benefit from improved security and attractive rewards programs.
With so many excellent digital banks offering superb features, it’s no wonder that residents have embraced digital banking with open arms.
Best Digital Banks in the UAE
Most of the digital banks in the UAE are digital banking accounts offered by several well-established commercial banks in the country.
There are a variety of banks providing digital account opening services to their users. Several commercial banks have also stepped up to ride the bandwagon and play their part in the digitization of the banking sector in the country.
Here are the nice best digital banks in the UAE.
Liv was launched in 2017 by Emirates NBD to facilitate users with online account opening and other financial services. Their app is easy to use and designed for the digital generation. The bank offers tons of perks to its users, including:
- Liv Visa Credit Card
- Two free transfers globally per month
- Liv Young Debit Card for Kids
- Hundreds of entertainment deals
- 1.5% interest
- Up to 15% cashback
- Emirates Miles: 1 mile per Dirham
Liv Bank was specifically designed to target Millennials and Gen Z due to the young population in the country. The bank claims to be the fastest-growing bank in the UAE and is a great option for people living there for their financial needs.
E20 was launched in 2019 by Emirates NBD to provide mobile banking services to businesses. This digital bank is suited for the following:
- Sole Proprietors
- Simple Limited Partnerships
- SME License
- Instant License
- Intelaq (Home-based businesses for Emiratis)
- Civil Company
Users can easily register for a bank account via their app. It takes 3 to 5 days for your account to become fully functional. The bank is ideal for SMEs as it provides secure and economical business services with low minimum balance requirements.
Users can also order a Visa debit card via the app and freeze or unfreeze it based on their spending activity. Some other features of the E20 business bank accounts are:
- Instant invoicing
- Cheque deposits via CDMs
- Cash deposits via CDMs
- Expense management
Wio is a new digital banking option for Emirati residents and businesses. Even more, the company considers itself as a banking platform providing embedded finance and banking-as-a-service solutions.
I think the company will boost the UAE economy, considering the fast growth of its digital part. As the latest example, see how Buy Now Pay Later services are getting traction in the country.
That’s say, the digital banking platform is offering
- Personal Accounts
- Business Accounts
- Embedded finance for e-commerce businesses
- Banking-as-a-Service solutions (if you are not sure what it is, read our article with BaaS examples)
YAP is a digital banking app launched in 2021 in the UAE to provide digital banking solutions to its users. YAP is just PAY read backward, and users can send remittances, pay bills, and get access to their spending analytics via the app.
The platform is supported by RAKBANK, which caters to the banking needs of the users. To create an account on YAP, you must download the app and register yourself, and it takes less than 30 seconds to complete the registration.
YAP has all the features of a good digital bank:
- 5 ways to deposit money including cash deposits
- Virtual cards for Apple Pay and Google Pay
- International transfers support
- Bill payments
- Yap Young accounts for kids
YAP will provide you with an IBAN and a debit card by RAKBANK so you can start performing transactions online. Currently, the app is only available in the UAE, but it will soon be available in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, and Ghana.
One of the most popular banks in the UAE, Mashreq Bank, launched the digital app Mashreq Neo to aid users in digitizing bank accounts. Users can easily download the Mashreq Neo app from App Store and Play Store and open their bank account.
Launched in 2017, the digital bank offers a variety of services to its users, such as:
- Personal and Business Accounts
- Savings Accounts
- Neo NXT
- 1.2% interest with MaxSaver
- AED 500 welcome bonus
- Visa Debit Cards
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
ADIB SmartBanking was launched in 2019 by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB). The service allows users to open bank accounts, communicate, and share information with peers online via their mobile phones and other devices.
Users can create the ADIB SmartBanking bank account for personal and non-commercial usage. You must be a resident of the United Arab Emirates or have a valid UAE residence visa to apply for this account. It provides several features to the users, such as:
- Active member rewards for the MoneySmart community
- Monthly E-statements
- Free debit card
- Great profit rates on savings
To open a bank account, users must have a minimum monthly income of AED 5000. Housewives and students can also apply for their personal use.
Zand is an upcoming digital bank regulated by the Central Bank of the UAE. It offers corporate and personal banking services to its users. The digital bank is set to become UAE’s first fully digital bank once it is launched. Users can register their interest and join the waitlist to become Zand account holders.
The bank also claims to offer depositors one of the highest interest rates. Users will also get several benefits for using the Zand Visa debit card, including travel discounts and fair exchange rates.
With Zand, users will be able to send money globally within seconds. Depending on their requirements, corporate account holders can also apply for working capital and term loans.
CBD Digi (Commercial Bank of Dubai)
Commercial Bank of Dubai is one of the largest banks in the UAE. The bank allows users to register for bank accounts digitally via the CBD mobile app.
Users can easily create their CBD Digi account by downloading the CBD app, filling out the details, and scanning their Emirates ID. There is no minimum salary requirement for opening a CBD Digi account; however, users must keep the minimum monthly AED 3,000 in their account to avoid falling below the fee.
Some of the benefits of a CBD Digi bank account are:
- Free debit card for international use
- Two free international remittance transfers per month
- Discounts and entertainment deals at hundreds of brands
Dubai Islamic Bank
One of the largest Islamic banks in the world, Dubai Islamic Bank offers digital account opening services to its users. Opening in 1975, the bank has built its reputation as one of the leading banks in the UAE.
Users can download the DIB Mobile app and open an account by scanning their documents and clicking a selfie. The bank account will be opened in a few minutes, and users can now perform transactions online.
DIB provides several services to its users, including:
- Debit cards
- Mobile banking
- Apple and Samsung Pay
- E-statement facility
- WhatsApp banking
- CDMs and ATMs
A Digital Platform for Business – Xpence
And lastly, I want to mention not a digital bank but a service that compliments it.
Founded in 2017, Xpence is a great tool for financial management and making payments. The platform allows users to keep track of their expenses and create invoices on the go. The primary market for Xpence is freelancers and entrepreneurs, providing them with basic banking and bookkeeping solutions in a single app.
Your Xpence account comes with an integrated prepaid Visa card so that you can make online payments anywhere in the world.
The app is currently only available in the UAE and Bahrain but is soon expected to expand to other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Pakistan, Egypt, and Oman.
To open an account with Xpence, first you need to download the app and register. Once you submit your application, your account will become approved within a few days.
Xpence is a business solution and is not meant for personal use. Users need the following documents to create an Xpence account:
- Emirates ID
- Trade License
- Proof of Address
- Company Logo (If Applicable)
- Memorandum of Association (If Applicable)
- VAT registration certificate (If Applicable)
The Dynamic of Digital Banking in the UAE
New entrants such as YAP and Wio have emerged to provide complete digital banking solutions to the Emirati residents. Many conventional banks have also started facilitating users with online account opening and maintenance options.
Technology continues to create new avenues toward accessibility and efficiency. With one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the MENA region, almost everyone in the UAE is connected to the internet. This well-connected landscape is ideal for internet and online banking, which has established itself as an important sector in the country.
Digital banking does facilitate not only the common user but also the corporate sector, especially SMEs. Small companies can easily access several banking services with a few finger taps.