In the last decade, digital banking has grown in leaps and bounds with several startups establishing themselves as major players in the market. 2019 has already surpassed 2018’s funding record of $2.3 billion, and with 48 fintech unicorns across the globe valued at $187 billion, the competition to offer more than standard banking services is fierce. We take a quick a look at some of the more innovative solutions & services offered by digital banks today:
Launched in 2015, Revolut is currently valued at $1.7 billion and offers its customers the standard digital banking services including fee-free foreign spending to the ability to transfer money across the world at the interbank rate. In addition, Revolut allows its users to buy & transact with up to five cryptocurrencies on their personal account. When it comes to business, Revolut Connect uses an Open API formula to allow companies to integrate popular software such as XERO, Slack, Zapier & more.
Another innovative service offered by Revolut is the commission-free stock-trading platform for Revolut Metal customers, which has traditionally been offered by dedicated standalone fintech apps in the past. This allows users to buy & sell stocks of 300 US-listed companies on NASDAQ & NYSE. With up to 100 free trades a month, Revolut plans to roll out this service to its Premium & Standard users soon, offering up to 8 and 3 commission-free trades per month.
Launched as a digital-only alternative by DBS over the last ten years, Digibank India is the first and only digital-only bank in the country. The bank offers its customers several types of insurance (travel, medical, vehicle) in addition to allowing them to invest across equity mutual funds & create a Systematic Investment Plan from as low as Rs. 500 (~$7).
Digibank’s 24/7 virtual assistant digibot offers customers answers to over 10,000 banking-related questions, but is not just limited to being an FAQ AI. Digibot also functions as a chatbot; account holders can direct digibot to transfer money to other accounts, display balance and a statement of any past transactions – a previously unoffered service by any Indian bank.
A digital-only alternative offered by UAE-based Mashreq Bank, Mashreq Neo allows users to open an account in less than five minutes. Offering ‘Investment’ services, account holders can trade in stocks, gold & forex and set personal trading preferences. Every trade is done via the ‘Trading’ account from which users can then withdraw the funds into their bank account – all done via the Mashreq Neo app. Mashreq Neo also offers Mashreq Chat Banking, which is an AI-powered chatbot integrated with Facebook Messenger. Clients can make queries and perform financial transactions directly through the chatbot itself.
AI-chatbots are usually found in standalone personal finance apps such as Cleo; Mashreq Neo’s Messenger integrated chatbot allows customers both accessibility to their finances & ease-of-use. Capitalising on more than 7m Messenger users in the UAE, this is one of the first digital-banking alternatives to offer an AI-powered service.
Offered by Scotiabank, Tangerine was formerly called ING Direct Canada. It’s the digital banking alternative that offers customers a variety of services including investments & lending. What sets Tangerine apart is the fact that it offers four different types of Investment accounts: an Investment Fund Account for long-term investors, a Tax-Free Investment Fund Account which allows users to grow their investments tax-free with low fees, global diversification & an indexing strategy, an RSP Investment Fund account, which is geared towards long-term retirement investments and an RIF Investment account for users who want to withdraw funds from their retirement investment account. It managed over $3 billion in assets. When it comes to lending & borrowing, Tangerine offers its account holders mortgages, home equity credit lines, and RSP loans.
Part of the BBVA, Simple is one of the few digital-only banks in the United States. Compared to most of the world, the US hasn’t been as receptive to the boom in fintech & banking but that is slowly changing. Simple offers users ‘Goals’ – an innovative feature not commonly offered by other US banks. App-users can simply create savings goals to stash away pre-decided amounts into different goals. In order to promote healthier financial habits, Simple also offers an Emergency fund goal which is set up as a separate goal – the automatic amount debited is decided after Simple analyses the income.
One of the more innovative features offered by the neobank is the Trackable Spending service which allows users to track their expenses using labels and reports. In addition, users can add hashtags, notes & pictures to expenses and purchases and locate the same using a search bar in the app.
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