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Challenger bank comparison – who is the fastest?

My brother was traveling from London back to Prague but lost his wallet with all the cash he had and also his credit card. He needed to pay for some documents at the embassy and within 25 mins, otherwise, he would be stuck there for a few more days. But he didn’t have any cash nor enough money in his bank account. So how to send him money within 25 minutes? Thanks to Revolut we got that sorted out in 15 minutes. However, this got me thinking if there is even a faster way.

I got in touch with people from Scientia if they could help me analyze how other challenger banks would handle this situation, using their FinTech Insights. Big Kudos to them.

We wanted to find out who is the fastest and who is the best in this process. Therefore we decided to answer the 2 quantitative and 2 qualitative questions:

1 – How many steps does it take to make your first payment from not having the app to paying with your smartphone?

2 – What bank is doing well and what could be improved in this process in terms of user experience?

In this analysis, we were testing these iOS apps of Revolut, Monese, bunq, N26, Vivid, Tomorrow, TransferWise, Monzo, Starling

We needed to determine which processes are included in this whole scenario. We found out that there are four parts to it. First of all, we needed to open a bank account. To do this, we needed to go through the digital onboarding and KYC process

Once the bank account is active and I am able to send the money, the recepient will need to create a virtual prepaid card, add it into his or her wallet, and then finally, make the payment. However, this is only manageable if the card is active without waiting for the physical one to arrive.

Before you will be blown away by the results, it is important to mention how the steps were measured. To fully map how many steps it takes to get from point 0 to payment, Scientia in their FinTechInsights is taking into account 2 kinds of steps: active and passive.

Passive steps are all the steps where a user might need to read information, omit some piece of information or carry out any steps that do not require the active interaction of him with the digital banking application.

The active steps are all steps where the user needs to take some sort of action, such as typing, taking a photo of a document, clicking, or swiping.


Let’s see the results:

There were several hick-ups along the way that would make the payment impossible in time.  With Tomorrow and Monzo you need to wait for the physical card to arrive. But Starling, N26 and TransferWise support the function of adding the Debit Card in your Apple Wallet even before it physically arrives. Also for Monzo and Starling, you must be a British citizen and the EU citizen with a valid passport for the rest.

And who was the winner in terms of journey steps?

The winner is Revolut with 53 steps.


However, it is important to mention that from the entire portfolio of FinTech Insights, the digital bank with the fewest number of steps for Digital Onboarding worldwide is Banco de Sol with only 32 steps. Of course, a lot of factors can be part of this, predominantly that Banco de Sol is an Argentinian challenger bank that needs to follow a completely different regulation than Revolut. Yet it is worthy to point out that they have managed to tackle the regulation by implementing a very efficient and seamless process.

If we would like to talk in terms of time, in the ideal case, you are able to pay with the majority of the challenger banks in less than 5 minutes. With some, you have to wait for your psychical card to arrive.

Nevertheless, the least number of steps in this process doesn’t mean that it’s the best. We have also looked into the qualitative side of the thing and studied which challenger bank has the best user experience in this particular scenario. So in part two of this article, we will be talking about what N26 could improve and who is the User Experience winner. Coming up next week.

If you don’t want to miss the second part, subscribe to our weekly newsletter or follow-ups on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Until next time.

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