Credit institutions bear 30%-40% of all their expenses in order to keep the ATM network active in the region, but the percentage of customers visiting the branch is decreasing at the rate of 10% per year. The alarm was launched some time ago by the Bank of England and is common to all mature markets, albeit with percentages that vary from country to country. For this reason, too, finance and the credit industry are becoming increasingly convinced of the need to work towards the digitalization of services. According to a study carried out by Juniper Research, by 2021, approximately three billion customers worldwide will manage their current accounts, make payments and request loans via the digital channel, and banks’ fintech users will grow by 53%.
The most important reason why users opt for digital services is the convenience of fast, multi-channel tools, which banks have to make available to their customers. While the technology needed to reach said 3 billion potential customers is by no means ready for deployment, institutions can find this technology in the marketplace, either from native digital competitors or from small innovative companies developing specific services. This is leading to numerous initiatives in which traditional banks combine their expertise with that of the most innovative companies.
Forbes has chosen the five most promising Italian fintech companies in the banking industry:
N26 has redesigned the bank for smartphones making it simple, fast and up-to-date. Opening a new bank account takes only eight minutes and the process can be completed entirely from your smartphone. Customers receive a MasterCard to pay or withdraw cash worldwide. They can lock or unlock their card with a simple click and make instant money transfers to their friends and contacts. N26 also acts as a fintech services aggregator, thanks to partnerships with many other startups working in financial innovation. Throughout Europe N26 customers use Transferwise to get zero cost on exchange rates (free transfers in the EU and 19 different currencies), Moneybeam to send money instantly to other N26 customers via email or sms, or they can access N26 Invest’s investments via Vaamo. N26 announced its entry into the UK market during the first half of 2018 and into the US in mid-2018 where it is going to operate through its subsidiary N26 Inc. based in New York.
Credentials: it has a total of over 500,000 customers in 17 European markets and a team of over 300 employees.
Investors: N26 received more than $55 million from funds such as Li Ka-Shing’s Horizon Ventures, Battery Ventures, and Valar Ventures, in addition to Zalando’s board members, EarlyBird Ventures and Redalpine Ventures.
It represents the earliest model of digital-conversational bank, dedicated exclusively to iPhone owners, able to offer its customers a concierge service, available 24/7, for financial and lifestyle needs. It is 100% usable from mobile and without passing through the branch. A buddybank customer, autonomously, can open an Italian Iban bank account from his iPhone.
Credentials: at launch, on the end of January 2018, already had 15 thousand potential clients on the waiting list.
Investors: Buddybank is known as a “digital bank powered by UniCredit”
CheBanca! is the bank of the Mediobanca group dedicated to savings and investments, established in May 2008, that combines the skills and expertise of the group’s financial markets with a strong digital innovation component. It offers both classic banking products as well as professional advice on savings and investments through a range of funds, financial products, and investment strategies.
Credentials: at the end of 2017, it had more than 800 thousand customers and more than 20 billions of deposits.
Investors: CheBanca! is part of the Mediobanca group.
Founded in 1999, FinecoBank is the direct multichannel bank of the UniCredit group, one of the largest consulting networks in Italy, as well as the leading bank in Italy in terms of trading volumes on the stock market and the leading online broker in Europe in terms of the number of orders executed. FinecoBank offers an integrated business model between a direct bank and a network of consultants.
Credentials: this bank has 1,2 millions of clients, more than 2.600 personal financial advisors and a net deposit volume close to 6 billion.
Acronym of WIse-DIalog-BAnk, this bank saw its debut in 2014. Late in 2016 it launched the Wise “robo for advisor” platform dedicated to its financial advisors for the profiling of clients, the construction of portfolios, the automatic execution of orders and constant monitoring over time. Widiba 2020 was also one of their creations, an interface that provides an intelligent search engine to carry out transactions and operations only by entering a keyword.
Credentials: in 2016 in 2016, it was awarded the Efma International Prize as a bank with the “Best Customer Experience in the world”.