Let’s see which neobanks can gain momentum in Finland in the near future
Finland has one of the most advanced fintech sectors in the world due to the innovative collaboration between telecom operators, banks, finance companies, and ambitious startups. Along with other Nordic countries, Finland is one of the most digital societies in Europe.
In 2019, 91% of all individuals used the internet for online banking, but usage was higher (95%) among those who had used the internet within the last three months. COVID-19 only sped up the development of a banking digitalisation process. Nearly half of Finns have reduced their use of cash during the pandemic, and most believe that their use of cash has decreased permanently.
The increased flexibility and absence of physical contacts offered by digital banks give them a great advantage over traditional banking institutions.
Holvi Payment Services offers online business banking for the self-employed. The digital account has reporting, invoicing, automated accounting, and tax preparation features as well to simplify one’s financial routine. Holvi Business Mastercard can be used on job trips and elsewhere. For small business sellers, there’s the Holvi online store with a pre-built storefront. Holvi is not exactly a bank, but it received a payment institution licence from the Financial Supervisory Authority of Finland (FIN-FSA). The fintech holds all customer funds in separate accounts at partner banks, where they’re protected under deposit insurance.
In 2016, Holvi was acquired by Spanish global banking group BBVA. In 2021, BBVA accepted an offer to sell the neobank to Keru Fintech Investments, a new company owned by Holvi’s co-founder Tuomas Toivonen.
Dutch neobank Bunq, founded in 2012, describes itself as an open IT platform for digital banking. It supports third-party APIs, so the app has flexible functionality. APIs can be used, for example, to link the account to an accounting package or transfer money internationally in partnership with Transferwise. The app also has budgeting features, travel assistant with tips on how to best manage your money in different locations, bill splitting option, and a desktop version.
The young bank has expanded its range of services in recent years to include a savings account and a range of physical cards specifically designed for travelling, business, or making an environmental impact. This neobank appeals to both individuals and businesses with ethical investment choices and Easy Green subscription plans to help to offset CO2 emissions by planting new trees.
Since its inception, Bunq has been self-funded by its founder and CEO Ali Niknam. This year, the company decided to raise some external capital, leading to the largest Series A round for a European fintech company. The startup raised $228 million (€193 million) at a $1.9B valuation. Bunq now has €1 billion in user deposits and is finally ready to start scaling up significantly.
The German digital bank has about 5 million customers in 25 markets. N26 offers three different personal banking plans and an exclusive business bank account option for freelancers and the self-employed. The in-house app allows users to set spending and withdrawal limits, save and budget using Spaces, and instantly send money with MoneyBeam. Its TransferWise integration allows customers to get a real exchange rate for international transfers.
In 2020, N26 raised close to $800M, keeping its valuation at $3.5B. This year, it’s holding preliminary talks with investors before another funding round. It’s expected to increase the bank’s valuation to $10B.
Wirex is a licensed e-money issuer with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Its digital payment platform combines both fiat and crypto banking solutions. The company launched its first product — a Bitcoin-supported debit card — in 2015, becoming a pioneer in this field. In 2019, Wirex announced the launch of a brand new next-generation Wirex Visa Travelcard in the APAC region “where people need payments redesigned for the future”. It was unique in a way, allowing them to store and use hybrid crypto-fiat assets in over 150 currencies. As Mastercard has expanded its cryptocurrency program, Wirex has become the first “native” cryptocurrency platform to gain principal membership. That means that Wirex can now directly issue cards on Mastercard’s network. Its newest service “X-Accounts”, created in partnership with a digital asset custody platform Fireblocks, will give users easy access to DeFi, offering quick crypto deposits and high-interest rates on both fiat and crypto holdings.
Despite some controversies and criticism, Wirex announced that it turned profitable in 2019 (which is quite remarkable for a 5-year-old fintech startup). At the time of its last crowdfunding campaign (late 2020), the company had a pre-money valuation of £125m. It boasts over 3 million users, and $3 billion in transactions.
Tomorrow is a neobank based in Germany offering personal accounts, sustainable investments, and a wooden debit card. It was officially founded in 2018 but launched a current account only in March 2019. Since that time the bank has had over 40,000 customers. Tomorrow positions itself as a social business helping individuals combine financial choices with positive environmental impact. The bank funds and promotes renewable energy, solar power, wind power and sustainable agriculture. It has already attracted over 70,000 customers.