Many dynamic fintech startups entered the banking scene over the last five years looking to disrupt it. In a changing banking climate, accompanied by the growing tendency of using our phones to do business, mobile-only, branchless banks are successfully luring customers away from traditional banks. According to new forecasts, a number of people regularly using mobile banking will overtake a number of those using branches in 2021.
For those who travel frequently, the new banking options provide smooth international transactions, excellent foreign exchange rates, inter-account transfers, and free spending while abroad.
Smart Lemur, an authentic travel website, has compiled a list of 4 digital banking apps that are the most reliable and convenient to use when travelling.
Set up by a Credit Suisse equity analyst and a former Deutsche bank app developer in July 2015, Revolut has focused on the travel exchange market. The main advantage for travellers is that Revolut uses the real exchange rate, which saves customers 3% to 5% on every transaction.
Revolut offers two options: basic and premium, both of which have prepaid debit cards available.
The basic card allows users to hold and exchange up to 26 currencies and spend on their cards in 120 currencies. Furthermore, users can pay, transfer and exchange up to €6,000 in total every month (a 0.5% fee applies after this) and ATM withdrawals are free up to £200 a month (then a 2% fee applies).
Revolut’s premium card is geared towards those who travel regularly; for £6.99 a month, users can access unlimited spending and exchange, a £400 cash withdrawal limit, and overseas medical insurance.
Monzo grew in popularity mostly due to their ingenious use of Twitter, hackathons and tech influencers sharing the app. More than one million people are registered for its current account, and users are quick to praise this intuitive and easy to use digital bank.
Monzo users can make an instant bank transfer or move money through Apple and Android Pay, as well as send money instantly to other Monzo customers in their phone contacts list. There are no fees to pay when using the card abroad or making online transactions in a foreign currency. ATM withdrawals of up to £200 per month are free anywhere in the world with a 3% transaction cost applied after the limit is reached.
Starling stands out as an online bank with no fees for overseas spending or cash withdrawals.
UK startup Starling Bank received its banking license in July 2016, and launched the UK’s first app-only current account in March 2017. With over 300,000 customers, Starling claims to have a strong focus on data and transparency, aiming to convince people who are used to seeing their lives in a dataset, similar to users of health-tracking watches.
Starling Bank offers full personal, joint, or business current accounts, managed via its iOS or Android app, with instant notifications on spending. The app also categorizes users’ spending so they can check how much they spend on food, travel, and entertainment, while being informed which retailers they have been spending with.
Berlin-based N26, founded in 2013, has amassed 1.5M customers across Europe and launched the beta version of its current account for the UK customers in October 2018. The unique feature to N26 is allowing its customers to access accounts via the ‘N26 Web’ using a laptop or computer, instead of a smartphone.
Other than that, N26 offers many of the features that Monzo and Starling customers enjoy, including push notifications, spending analytics, in-app card freezing, and cheap spending overseas. The only fee is for foreign cash withdrawals, at 1.7%.
As the app is still in its beta state, the functions are limited – users do get a Mastercard debit card featuring a unique, transparent design but they cannot receive their salary into the account, set up direct debits or standing orders as of yet. There is no overdraft facility but it is planned before the end of the year. For now, the only way to add money to your account is via a bank transfer, using your sort code and account number.