Welcome bank to another Battle of Challengers!

So far in our blog, we have been starting conversations about Challenger Banks, yet focusing on what features they offer – or dont’t, as well as extensively talking about their UX implementations and how user friendly they actually are. 

Let’s take a step back for a moment and think of the many reasons as to why we need banking in our lives, or even better – how banking can make our lives easier.

In the past few years, there have been various talks, especially amongst the younger generations, about financial literacy and how it should be an essential part of our education. 

In this article from OppU, Phil Schuman director of MoneySmarts Program at Indiana University states:

“Finances inherently—whether or not it’s incredibly short-term in just buying lunch for that day or long-term saving for retirement—help you accomplish whatever your goals are. And financial literacy is important because if you learn about it, it’s going to teach you how to be efficient with your finances in such a way that you can accomplish more goals, and the goals that you do have, faster…”

People nowadays understand the importance of saving and budgeting their money, especially amidst a crisis, such the one we are currently facing – the COVID19 pandemic. Younger generations learned early on that they cannot depend on their monthly salaries, especially in such a volatile job market, and they need to rely on saving their money and learning to budget their expenses better as well as investing on passive income sources.

Various articles and theories have been developed around how to budget better, such as the 50/50/5 rule explained here. But what about what your Bank provides you in order to work towards your wealth?

CHALLENGERS

For our analysis we are going to be focusing on Challenger Banks/Neobanks. We might also write another analysis in the future on the same topic, focusing on High street/Traditional Banks, but you will need to stay tuned for that. 

Here are the Banks that we will be focusing on this time. These Challengers/Neobanks come from the European Region.

We will be listing the features each Challenger Bank provides under 5 main categories:

Monitoring

Here we will list all the ways a fintech helps you monitor both your expenses and your income. It might be via graphs, analytics, any way they choose. But these are important as realising your expense habits and predominantly where you spend the most is the first step towards bettering your finances and building towards your wealth.

Budgeting

Here we will list all the ways a bank allows you to budget your expenses. This helps you actively work towards building your wealth, as you set “limits” to each expense category and are aware if you exceed them.

Goals

Goals setting is one of the most important features to have if you want to build a cash amount towards a specific goal. It allows you to see the status of your saving at any given point in time, as well as set recurring payments, based on your cash flows per month to reach those goals.

Cashbacks

A lot of Banks offer the so-called round-up feature, as well as cashback offers in many of your favorite apps and services. And of course, saving money helps you towards building your wealth.

Savings

One of the most helpful ways you can invest towards your wealth, is well, saving your money in a savings account. We have found a lot of interesting savings accounts’ features around the globe. From creating virtual pots to save your money there for a limited amount of time, to savings’ accounts that auto-invest your money.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

In Monese, it is very easy to monitor both your expenses as well as your monthly income. They offer pie charts, expense analysis by week/month/year, or any other period you want to focus on. All your transactions are organised per category and you can see in which category you spent the most each month. (7 Functionalities)

Monese may not allow you to set budgets for each transaction category, yet they allow you to set an overall budget in any of the accounts you have. For example you might want to spend only 70% of your monthly income, and you can set that, as well as keep track of how much you are spending. (4 Functionalities)

Of course Monese allows you to set any Goal you want. By setting the amount of money you wish to save, you can move money towards it and see at any point your progress. The feature may not be inclusive of all the functionalities we have encountered in various other banks worldwide, but it does help any user save towards a goal. (4 Functionalities)

Monese offers the following smart feature: You can choose to round-up the purchases you make with your Debit Card, to the nearest whole number, as well as multiply these round-ups by 1,2,3,5,10 times, and create a pot to save this money amount there.

You will be taken aback from the money you will end up saving by the end of 6 months.

Monzo allows you to open Savings accounts in both Euro and GBP. Which is great if you want to set aside money in a different currency. They also allow you to close these accounts anytime you want, as well as enable the round up service, which rounds up your transactions and automatically saves any spare changes in your savings account. Like Benjamin Franklin once said:

A penny saved is a penny earned. ‘

(2 Functionalities)

Monzo has implemented very nice graphs in their applications, with which you can derive valuable information about your expenses as well as your income. 

Of course you can see your expense analysis for a specific period of time, as well as for a specific category. (6 Functionalities)

Monzo offers budgeting your expenses, per category, something we did not see in Monese, but more than that, we did not see anything new in terms of budgeting. Just the same setting/editing and deleting your budgets. (5 Functionalities)

Monzo expands the list of functionalities found under Setting Goals to the following… First of all, one of the main features users need to have under their Goals, is be able to set up a recurring transfer towards this Goal. You do not want to worry about if you actually saved some money towards buying your expensive laptop this month. You want to set up a monthly recurring transfer, and have taken care of. (7 Functionalities)

Monzo does not offer cashbacks themselves, yet they do work with tail, where you can connect your account and take advantage of various cashback offers.

Monzo allows you to open a savings account (but only in your local currency) and enable your card round up service as well. You can even pick the multiplier for this round up. (4 Functionalities)

bunq offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to Monitoring. You can choose the account you want to monitor, view your expense analysis as well as even see a balance prediction for the following days, based on your transaction behaviour so far. You can also set your payday date to have as a point of reference! (6 Functionalities)

In their last Update 15, bunq introduced budgets! Now you can set budgets for each category you spend money on, view your progress, meaning how much money you have spent and how much you have remaining (helps a lot with self control and overspending) and of course delete or edit at any point your budgets. bunq also allows you to set the categories for which you will be seeing your budgets!

They have pretty icons for every category as well!

bunq does offer Goal setting features though. We have not found any new features in our analysis in FinTech Insights, but they do offer opening a new savings account from scratch while setting a goal, which is very convenient for the process. (5 Functionalities)

bunq in their latest release on October 14th, in their 15th Update introduced bunq Deals, where they offer Cashback deals on various Marchants, some of them being Booking and DENT, and very soon HelloFresh!

Now, when it comes to bunq’s and the flexibility they offer in any type of account, let’s just say that the bunq’s team has reinvented this game. They offer Local Currency savings accounts only, but they also offer joint accounts, and round up service. So imagine you and your significant other wanting to save up for a new something – with bunq you can open your joint account and contribute together in no time! (3 Functionalities)

N26 may not offer a lot of features when it comes to monitoring your expenses, but they do offer very nice graphs. They present your expenses in a pie chart for each month. Each chart piece represents a category of your expenses, followed by the icon representing that expense category. Easy, user friendly and neat – just like the way it should always be. (6 Functionalities)

No budgets for N26 users !

Nothing fancy when it comes to Goal setting either. It is a bummer that such famous challengers have not introduced any innovation in Goal setting yet..(4 Functionalities)

Ν26 offers Cashbacks to various merchants. Using your N26 Debit Card allows you to earn an 8% cashback on Headspace or a 6% on Aaptiv. Their Merchant list is always evolving and they are always adding new merchants.

It seems that all challenger banks have realised the importance of giving back to their users how are regular users and have shown their trust. It looks like it might come down to who will offer the best cashback deals in a few years, in combination to who can become one’s primary bank! 

N26 follows the same logic as bunq. They allow their users to open savings accounts in local currency, as well as joint accounts – which are extremely helpful especially when they can be done in a few steps. (2 Functionalities)

Revolut includes a lot of very interesting graphs that show each user their expense analysis. They show you your expenses per category, the total amount spent per 4 days, as well as expected expenses for the following days. It is a very nice way to keep in track of your cash flows. (7 Functionalities)

Apart from seeing how much you have been spending in general, Revolut allows you to set budgets for each category & subcategory you want. Then it also shows you how much money you have left in that budget for the remainder of the month. (5 Functionalities) 

Revolut follows a very intricate and fully inclusive feature list when it comes to Goal settings. You can of course set, edit or delete your Goal as well as add a deadline to it, add a start amount to your Savings Goal, and most importantly you can set up a recurring transfer for your savings goal so that you can contribute towards your goal within worrying! Finally you can modify this recurring contribution to your savings goal at any point in time. You can even enable the spare change feature to contribute towards that Goal. Such flexibility! (7 Functionalities)

Revolut offers Cashbacks for their Metal customers but also for UK residents they offer rewards!

If you live in the UK you can be rewarded with up to 12% at Asos and other services such as Audible (personal favorite!)

Once again Revolut offers incredible flexibility to the type of savings account you can open. For example you can open a savings account in any currency you want, open a joint savings account to save together with friends and family or even open a savings account in crypto currency! (8 Functionalities)

Starling does not offer a wide range of functionalities for wealth monitoring, but they do cover the basics. Maintaining an account in Starling means you will be able to see your expenses per category, as well as per merchant, search your transactions per month and see a pie chart where all your expenses are going to be segmented per PFM category. (6 Functionalities)

No budgeting for Starling users..

Goals setting in starling is also straightforward. You can set a Goal, sed and delete it. You can also set a recurring transfer for your savings goals. But that’s about it. (5 Functionalities)

Starling uses the same app as Monzo (tail) to offer cashbacks to their users as well. They currently do not have a cashback plan in place.

When it comes to the types of accounts you can open in Starling to save money, things are simple: you can open a savings account in either your local or foreign currency. And well, that’s all there is! (2 Functionalities)

THE VERDICT

As we said this Battle of Challengers is going to be different from the others.

Theoretically we could give the first place to the Challenger Bank that has aggregated the highest number of Functionalities as we have categorized them above. 

But that would not be entirely fair, and here’s why:

As we have mentioned before, a bank is not necessarily better than any other because they offer more. A big factor that plays a significant role in customer satisfaction and acquisition is how easy you can provide functionalities to your customers. In other words, your offered UX!

So we thought we would put these Challenger Banks through complicated tests!

We have thought of 3 complex User scenarios that are of course real user needs.


Scenario A: I want to open a virtual joint savings account with a friend and save 50 Euro each month.

Scenario B: I want to view in which category I spend the most and set a budget on it.

Scenario C: I want to set a goal for next year, and I need you to help me save towards it.


Based on these scenarios we run the UX analysis for all the Challengers that offered them.

After all this analysis we are going to present the Challenger that offers their users the ability to complete the scenarios in the most efficient way.

Scenario A: I want to open a virtual joint savings account with a friend and save 50 Euro each month.

Winner: bunq! 

In bunq you can start by opening a joint account, and throughout the process of this account opening you will be asked to set up a recurring transfer towards this account!

Even though this scenario may seem complicated, and most Challengers have two different paths that one needs to follow to successfully complete this scenario, e.g Revolut, bunq manages to include it in one single user journey.

Simple, fast and efficient!


Scenario B: I want to view in which category I spend the most and set a budget on it.

Winner: Revolut! 

Here is how easy Revolut makes the completion of this scenario. You log in your account, click to see your Expense Analytics. There your expenses will be listed from the category that you spend the most – which is what you want, to the one you spend the least.

Clicking on the very first category, you have the option to set a budget for it. 

And just like that you see the category for which you spend the most, and you set a budget for it in a couple of more clicks. No more going overboard with takeout!


Scenario C: I want to set a goal for next year, and I need you to help me save towards it.

Winner: No one!! 

Yep, you read that right. No one. 

Many Challengers from our lists allow their users to set a savings goal, but none of them actually help you save towards it! Meaning no  one says that “Hey you, based on your spending habits you should be saving about 20 Euro per month in order to have saved 100 and be ready for Black Friday. Let me set up a recurring transfer for you and you will be reaching your goal in no time!”

Fun Fact: Lloyds Bank actually offers this Functionality. Indeed this UK High street, which also took us aback from the plethora of features they offer when it comes to Personal Financial Management, offers financial advice, including suggestions and graphs of recommended progress versus actual progress for your savings goal.

Congratulations to both Revolut and bunq for taking the trophies home, yet we are eager to see which of these Challengers will first implement scenario c first.

And if you are wondering how on earth we know all this, and where do I find the data to write these Battles, well book a Demo for FinTech Insights here, and we will show you all these…. and more!

P.S Stay tuned for our December special Battle! Santa definitely approves!