In the UK, digital-first challenger banks have taken the banking industry by storm. In the next year, digital challenger banks will have a combined customer base of 35 million, tripling their customer bases of 13 million people today, according to a research by Accenture.
But who exactly are the players that are transforming the UK’s banking sector? The following is a comprehensive list of digital-first challenger banks from the UK.
AlbaCo is a new challenger bank based in Glasgow, Scotland, that serves small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is set to launch in 2020.
Allica Bank, formerly CivilisedBank, was granted a banking license in September 2019 to launch a SME bank. Allica Bank plans to offer business current accounts with deposits, transaction banking, overdrafts, FX, investments, savings and loans. It says it will be the first bank to launch a commercial owner-occupier mortgage for SMEs and a commercial investment product.
Headquartered in London, Amaiz is an e-money institution providing solutions for sole traders, small businesses, limited companies and startups. Amaiz launched its first business banking app for UK solopreneurs in June 2019.
Founded in 2014, Atom Bank is a digital bank that provides banking services through a smartphone app. These include fixed-term savings accounts (Fixed Savers), mortgages, as well as business loans currently available through a small panel of brokers.
BABB (Bank Account Based Blockchain), a London-based startup, is developing a decentralized banking platform leveraging blockchain and biometrics technology. BABB aims to provide peer-to-peer banking services.
Commercial & Northern, trading as B-North, is a fintech startup based in Manchester. B-North has applied for a banking license and plans to open for business in 2020. It will focus on SME lending.
UK lender National Westminster Bank (NatWest) launched cloud-based, digital bank Bo in November 2019. Bo is accessible through a mobile app and comes with a Visa card. It includes features to help users budget, set savings goals and access “great Visa exchange rates” when using their card abroad.
London-based Bofin provides access to a range of banking-style, e-money and payment services to customers via its mobile app. The actual services are being provided by a variety of regulated e-money issuers, payment initiation service providers, account information service providers and payment service providers.
Cashplus, formerly known as Advanced Payment Solutions (APS), is a provider of prepaid MasterCards and current accounts for consumers, small businesses and local government authorities.
Chetwood Financial launched in 2016 with a consumer lending product, LiveLend Reward Loan, which amends its lending rates as customers’ credit rating improves. It is looking to launch a savings product before the end of Q1 2019.
Founded in 2015, ClearBank was the UK’s first new clearing bank to emerge in more than 250 years. Built from scratch, ClearBank uses cutting-edge technology to transform the clearing and agency banking experience, making transactions as efficient, fast and cost-effective as they can and should be.
Coconut, formerly Monizo, is a business current account that takes care of customers’ accounting and tax. The platform is designed for freelancers, self-employed people and small business owners, and works through a mobile app.
Founded in 2008, Contis provides end-to-end banking and payments solutions. Contis offers several services including credEcard, a current account for consumers that comes with a Visa debit card, online e-account facilities and a mobile app, Engage, a payments card product for the European credit union market, as well as Canvas, a white-label solution which provides end-to-end accounts, banking and payments capability.
Countingup is a banking and accounting service for freelancers, small businesses and sole traders. It offers a free business current account that comes with a UK sort code, account number and a contactless MasterCard.
Dozens, developed by Project Imagine, helps customers save and grow their money by bringing together a current account, savings tools and an investment manager – all in one place.
Equals, formerly FairFX, is a London-based challenger in the financial services sector catering for both business and retail customers. Operating under an e-money license, Equals provides products including international payments, corporate expenses, current accounts, credit facilities, currency cards and travel cash.
Fiinu is a banking startup founded in 2017. Fiinu has not launched yet and is in the pre-application phase to obtain necessary licenses UK regulators. The startup aims to change the short term borrowing landscape by offering an innovative solution connected to a customer’s primary bank account via the open banking” directive.
Fire Financial Services
Founded in 2008, Fire is a multi-currency digital account for businesses registered in the UK and Ireland. It comes with a mobile app and a MasterCard debit card that is linked to GBP and EUR accounts.
Galeo is a digital bank designed to provide a free banking service globally and democratize access to financial products and services by leveraging the Bank-as-a-Platform model.
London-based Griffin is developing a API-fist bank that helps companies of all sizes connect to the banking infrastructure they need. Founded in 2017, Griffin plans to launch in summer 2020.
Lintel Bank is a startup building a digital bank targeting migrant workers and students in the UK. It will offer paid-for current accounts, money transfers, personal and SME loans, and mortgages. Lintel is currently in the pre-application stage of regulatory approval.
LQID Bank is a new challenger bank based in London currently undergoing regulatory authorization. LQID Bank will be providing a full-service bank that will use smart technologies to help customers build wealth.
Launched in November 2018 by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and its subsidiary NatWest, Mettle is a standalone SME digital entity offering a business current account with a sort code, account number and payment card; instant invoicing; and the option to add receipts to transactions and track expenses from a phone. Mettle is not a bank, but operates as an agent under an e-money license held by PrePay Solutions (PPS).
London-based MoneeMint, formerly Ummah Finance, is building “the UK and Europe’s first completely digital ethical bank.” MoneeMint has yet to launch . It will initially offer prepaid products and services.
Founded in 2013, Monese launched in September 2015 as the first 100% mobile account in the UK. The company offers current accounts and money transfer services as an alternative to traditional banks. Users open and manage their Monese current account on the company’s mobile app.
Monzo is a fully licensed mobile-first bank. The company offers a current account with a contactless debit card and a mobile banking app. The mobile app’s standout features include intelligent notifications, instant balance updates and financial management.
OakNorth is a UK challenger bank for SMEs. The bank, which gained regulatory approval in early 2015, provides business and property loans.
Omega is a new digital bank designed to provide a free banking service globally and democratize access to financial products and services by leveraging the Bank-as-a-Platform model. Omega, which has yet to launch, will provide free multi-currency current accounts with debit cards, free and instant money transfers, low-rate credit cards, and more.
Pockit is an online current account which customers can use to take full control of their spending. Customers sign up online in just 2 minutes and have access to a unique account number and sort code. The Pockit account also comes with a MasterCard.
Prepaid Financial Services (PFS)
Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) is a payments technology and e-money specialist providing a range of banking products including consumer and prepaid cards, current accounts, mobile payments, switching, and merchant services.
Recognise Financial Services, a subsidiary of the City of London Group, is a new challenger bank targeting the “vital but underserved” SME lending market. The company plans to apply for its banking license in December 2019 and expects to open for business in 2020. It intends to partner with leading fintech platforms to create a market leading SME service using the best in technology.
Redwood Bank is a business bank launched in 2017 that uses cutting edge technology solutions to serve SMEs. Redwood Bank offers secured SME mortgages for business owners, as well as for experienced commercial and residential property investors.
Launched in 2015, Revolut is a challenger bank that offers services including a prepaid debit card (MasterCard or Visa), fee free currency exchange, commission free stock trading, cryptocurrency exchange and peer-to-peer payments. The Revolut mobile app supports spending and ATM withdrawals in more than 100 currencies and sending in 20 currencies directly from the app.
Headquartered in London, Starling Bank is a licensed, mobile-only challenger bank offering four types of account: personal, business, joint and euro. The bank also provides the Starling Marketplace which offers customers in-app access to a curated selection of third party financial services, as well as business-to-business (B2B) banking and payments services.
Founded in 2015, Tandem Bank is a British bank focused on banking through mobile apps. Tandem offers a range of banking products including credit cards, a MasterCard, savings solutions, and a flexible account powered by smart Autosavings rules.
Thinkmoney is a digital banking services provider that primarily offers current accounts for a fixed monthly fee with no overdraft or transaction charges. Thinkmoney’s online system offers a budgeting service that sees customers money split into two accounts, one for spending and one for bills.
Tide is a UK fintech company that provides mobile-first financial services for SMEs. Tide enables businesses to set up a current account and get instant access to various financial services including automated bookkeeping and integrated invoicing.
Founded in 2012, U Account started off as a prepaid card business, operating under the name Ffrees Family Finance Ltd, before evolving in 2016 into a current account aimed at helping its users to improve their financial wellbeing, offering direct debit payments, budgeting tools and more.
Viola Money is a startup providing financial products. These include Viola Black, a personal account and accompanying prepaid card, Viola Corporate, a full digital bank account that allows customers to control all facets of their companies’ finances, and Viola Insure, an insurance business.
Zopa, known as the world’s first peer-to-peer (P2P) lender, launched its bank arm in 2018. The company plans to offer savings accounts and credit cards among other products. Zopa’s new bank will sit alongside its existing business, creating the “world’s first hybrid peer-to-peer and digital bank offering.”
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