It’s not just startups that need watching — neobanks are springing up across the globe, and a particular breed is becoming more common — those backed by traditional banks.
These banks are usually digital-only, but some may have physical branches. For a while, traditional FIs did not concern themselves with these neobanks, which typically offered limited functionality, but thanks to regulations such as PSD2 in Europe, government-backed initiatives across the world, and the evolving bank customer, FIs are taking note and are creating a presence for themselves in this ecosystem. This collective spirit is not just transforming banking in Germany and U.K., where such neobanks are most popular, but across the world.
And while some banks choose to acquire these digital companies, like U.K.’s Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank or CYBB’s £1.7 billion ( $2.23 billion) acquisition of Virgin Money last week, others like BBVA or JPMorgan Chase choose to use APIs and work with fintech service providers to create their own version of a neobank.
Below, Bank Innovation highlights three new challenger banks to keep an eye on:
1. Alior Bank’s (As Yet Unnamed) Standalone Digital Bank
This bank is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet, but Polish bank Alior recently told Bank Innovation that it was working on launching a digital-first bank later this year. The digital bank will be pan-European but will launch first in the German market, and gradually expand across the continent. The neobank will consist of current accounts, credit cards, and investment services. For current accounts, it is working with Berlin-based solarisBank to provide the infrastructure, Philipp Blankenagel, head of communications at solarisBank, told Bank Innovation. Alior is working with deposits marketplace Raisin for savings and investment services. Mastercard will power the bank’s debit card. Alior is planning to unveil the digital bank in the fourth quarter. Based in Warsaw, Poland, Alior was founded in 2008 and has more than 3 million customers, 216 branches, 219 high-tech mini branches that it calls Alior Bank Express. Alior Bank [Warsaw Stock Exchange ticker: ALR] has a market capitalization of $9.1 billion.
2. Space Digital Bank
Tblisi, Georgia-based TBC Bank just last week announced the launch of its standalone digital bank for its customers in its home nation of Georgia. The bank is called Space Digital Bank, and according to TBC, this is the first challenger bank in the nation. The bank will be fully cloud-based and will have a full range of retail banking services including current accounts, loans, saving products and payment cards, which will be powered by Visa.
In a statement emailed to Bank Innovation Nika Kurdiani, Deputy CEO at TBC Bank, said:
A year ago, several TBC team members decided to create a neobank that exists only as a mobile app, without branches and physical presence. TBC, in a way, created its own competitor. We think this challenge brings a new reality not only to TBC but also to the Georgian banking sector. It aims to change the way people access their daily financial services.
For the project, TBC tapped into banking Saas company Mambu to supply the infrastructure and API capabilities.
3. Finn by JPMorgan Chase:
Although not totally new to the digital banking scene, last week JPMorgan Chase announced that it will roll out its digital-only bank Finn nationwide. Chase unveiled Finn last October, beginning in St. Louis, Miss. Now, Finn will be available in all 50 states across the country. Finn offers debit cards, no-fee checking & savings accounts, PFM capabilities as well as bank-backed P2P service Zelle. For their debit cards, Finn customers can use Chase ATMs and partner ATMs through the Chase franchise. The Finn app is currently available on iOS and has no physical branches. It was created to appeal to Chase’s millennial customers — and potential customers. Already, Chase is the largest bank when it comes to mobile users, with 31 million mobile users. Could it be challenged by its own neobank?
As digital banking evolution continues, not only can we expect more traditional banks introducing their own challenger banks, but we can likely expect to see some market consolidation among the larger neobank players. This year, we are likely to see these larger players entering new markets. In fact, it’s already started, with German Challenger N26 and U.K.’s Revolut already preparing to launch in the U.S. this year.