Digital banking has been a more recent addition to the financial landscape. Europe was one of the first regions to see such massive growth in digital banks that challenged traditional banks’ status quo. Digital banks are banks that offer an entirely digital service through apps and online, which means they do not have physical bank branches. However, the 24/7 customer support services provided through the apps and the vast array of automated features mean that physical branches are unnecessary for customers to fulfill banking experience. Digital banks, also known as challenger banks, are challenging traditional banks’ service to make banking more convenient and transparent for their customers.
The convenience of the service offered by digital banks begins with the speedy sign-up process. Most European digital banks allow new customers to sign up simply by downloading an app, entering some personal details, and authenticating their identity before being approved within minutes. Not only is the process far quicker than with traditional banks, but it also makes their financial services more accessible to those who are often not applicable to traditional banks.
Digital banks also aim to uphold far more transparency in their service than traditional institutions. Many of the challenger banks offer free current accounts and more advanced options that come with a monthly fee. The majority of these banks pride themselves on providing a service with no hidden fees. This “fee-free” service also extends overseas, with many challenger banks appealing to keen travelers with offers of no fees on international transactions and free cash-withdrawals abroad.
Furthermore, European digital banks place a large emphasis on helping their users stay on top of their finances. They do this through monthly reports, forecasts, notifications, budgeting goals, saving tools, etc. Real-time spending notifications mean that customers can stay up-to-the-minute on their finances, while automated advice helps customers figure out what is safe to spend and what they can afford to save. These features have attracted many users to open an account, whether as their primary bank account or secondary.
The European digital banks each offer a unique service that will appeal to different people with different financial goals. The majority of the banks hold a fully-fledged banking license or are on their way to attaining one, meaning that these banks can offer their customers a full bank account and MasterCard. European digital banks are usually protected by the European Deposit Guarantee Scheme, which protects customer deposits up to €100,000 – although this may be something you want to check before choosing the right bank for you.
In terms of current accounts, most European digital banks offer a free standard current account option. However, N26 also provides more advanced plans for a small fee that offer extra benefits such as exclusive partner offers. All current accounts come with integrated budgeting technology, monthly reports, and advice, designed to help customers be more clued up about their cash.
Some of the European digital banks offer savings accounts with competitive rates of interest, while others limit their saving and interest features within the current account. Some banks offer spaces or pots to section away funds, whether for short-term savings or longer-term savings goals. You can opt for one of your saving pots or spaces to receive a good interest rate, with many banks offering withdrawals that will not cause you to lose your interest. Another common feature is the round-up tool, which allows customers to turn their spare change in everyday transactions into savings that earn interest. Customer growth and financial stability is a priority in European digital banking.
Digital banks go to great lengths to ensure they provide a safe and secure service to their customers. When finding the right digital bank for you, you may want to check what kind of license the bank holds, whether it has a full banking license and what institution has granted it. It is also a good idea to check any bank guarantees, such as whether deposits are guaranteed by the European Deposit Guarantee Scheme.
Digital banks are proud to be at the forefront of technology, including privacy and security innovations. These banks use the latest methods of authenticating user identities, whether by voice, face, or fingerprint. Traditional banks are often following the lead of challenger banks when it comes to innovation, so this should provide digital bank customers with some peace of mind about their security.
Becoming a customer at a digital bank means that you get to be one of the first to try the latest innovations in fintech, as digital banks are continually testing and rolling out new products, features, and services