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29.04.2015

Digital (and mobile) banks are already here

Image | Simple

Bank branches and paper checkbooks are a thing of the past. The management of financial affairs has arrived to smartphones with a force: the presence of banks in the mobile world is rapidly increasing.

At the end of the day, it’s what customers are demanding: the digital generation has grown up with a smartphone, so they would prefer to carry their bank in their pocket and not have to take a step into a branch. It’s the simple things: no paperwork, no lines, no having to contend with gentlemen wearing a tie. A recent survey by the manufacturer SIMs Gemalto has revealed some interesting data: 62% of the youths surveyed used an online banking service from a mobile device at least once a month. And more surprisingly: about 30% of these digital natives have never even walked into the office of a bank.

Traditional banks, it seems, are left without a choice, and are gradually embracing the mobile world by launching apps through which customers can carry out the same transactions as they would be able to in a physical branch. According to the consultancy Gartner, by 2016, 25% of the world’s major banks will have their own app.

It is a challenge for financial institutions that they should not only create the simple, reliable and useful applications that their clients expect, but must also compete with a new rival: the banks that are already directly on our phones.

number26

These new kinds of banks started on the Internet, and their only office is an app. They offer their customers exactly what they want: to be available at their fingertips, on the screen of a mobile.

One of these banks is Number26. This German bank, that just got 10 million euros in funding, operates exclusively in Germany and Austria, but they are already planning their launch in other European countries. Don’t look for branches in Central Europe: everything happens on their clients’ phones — and it takes a little more than a minute to open an account.

From there, the application Number26 converts into an account. After receiving a card associated with the account, users can do everything from the app: Activate the possibility of approving purchases with the card from the mobile, put limits on the card, disable online payments and more. All without losing entire mornings queuing up in an office.

simple bbva

Another example of mobile banking is Simple, the platform created in 2009 in the United States and acquired a year ago by BBVA. Simple enables its customers to access their bank charges from other financial institutions to control their overall spending from a single app. There are no fees or commissions, and users with a Simple account can make instant transfers and set savings goals (with the permission of the debit card associated with the account, of course). All of this, as explained on their website, can be done without even seeing a branch, and then your account can go with you wherever you want to go.

With these new mobile banking apps, something so common as to queue to get to the counter of a bank seems to be an endangered habit. Now the bank is in your pocket and, in fact, may never have a physical office. What for?