Neo banks: at the crossroads of fintech and traditional banking
A new business model rather than just a trendy innovation, neo-banks shape the financial landscape. In this article, we look at the specifics of some of these new players, active in Switzerland.
They are purely Swiss or born in other countries, often close to us: the neo-banks are invading a buoyant market, that of digital banks (electronic wallets offering similar services) whose operations are almost exclusively carried out via mobile phones. The aim is to attract customers who are looking for ease of use, both at the time of onboarding and in the processing itself. There are no more trips to the branch, no more receipts to be provided and no more deposits to be made. The neo-bank aims to be close to its users, responsive and financially attractive thanks to the lowest possible costs.
We were particularly interested in four of them, operating on the Swiss market, who answered our questions.
Alpian is an innovative Swiss financial services company incubated by the private bank REYL & Cie. It is pioneering a digital experience that combines everyday banking services, a personal wealth management offering, and tailored investment products – all within an easy-to-access app. Alpian raised CHF 12.2 million in Series A funding in 2020 and has submitted an application for a full banking license to Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
Alpian’s aim is to demystify the world of investment and democratize wealth management by offering intuitive, simple and smart financial solutions as well as a platform for empowering people to invest in themselves.
Founded in 2019, after extensive research which showed a need for greater service and a new offering amongst the mass-affluent market with between CHF100,000 and 1,000,000 to invest. By offering a mobile-first digital service, Alpian will offer private banking and wealth management services that mass affluent investors deserve but have been unable to access.
Currently building its products and services on the Temenos SaaS platfrom, Alpian’s offer will include:
- Boutique investment products (traditionally associated with “Ultra High Net Worth” individuals)
- Digital face-to-face access to experienced financial advisors
- A suite of discretionary investment funds created for clients with varying degrees of sophistication
- Transparent banking services
Alpian aims to provide its clients with a partnership, not just a financial service. Beginning with the launch of the i-vest platform, it helps educate and guide clients toward achieving Wealth beyond Money. The Alpian team is in the business of helping people. That means understanding that no solution can be one size fits all.
i-vest.ch is Alpian’s content platform that inspires, educates and empowers people on topics about finance, wealth and the philosophy of wealth beyond money. It provides jargon-free guidance to cultivate financial know-how, so that they are empowered to start and build on their investment journey.
More about Alpian: https://www.alpian.com/
Zurich based banking challenger, Neon offers a simple and intuitive app for a free Swiss bank account, a free Mastercard with globally no fees and all everyday banking features our clients love to have.
Launched in March 2019, Neon serves already more than 55,000 clients (Jan 2021) for their everyday banking needs: a simple and intuitive app, a free Swiss bank account, a free Mastercard with globally no fees – and all with Swiss banking-grade security from Hypothekarbank Lenzburg. Neon says it relies on a very focussed team with the ambition to change the Swiss retail banking: free, easy, limitless & mobile.
The app is simple, the onboarding processes (both video or photo) are paperless. Account and card come without any base fees – by far the best price according to many independent tests such as SRF/Kassensturz and Moneyland 2020. The team builds and develops the product continuously: the card supports Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay, the app all Swiss payment formats including eBill. Neon also offer a fully integrated solution for swift and cheap international payments with TransferWise. Neon provides all customer facing functionality. And everything is secure: the banking partner, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, manages all accounts and protects all funds – in addition to the Swiss deposit insurance. This client data never leaves Switzerland, thus offering hights privacy standards.
Neon clients benefit from an “ecosystem” of partners relying on many innovative FinTechs or incumbent partners, such as Yova, Selma, Smile, ZKB / Frankly, Sonect or other partners such as QoQa or Brack.ch.
In 2020 Neon also launched “Neon green” as a pilot and together with 1,500 supporters for neon green, planted more than 200,000 trees.
More about Neon: https://www.neon-free.ch/
Founded in 2020 by Charles-Henri Sabet, FlowBank combines Swiss banking performance with financial technology and innovation, taking the trading and investing experience to the next level.
FlowBank offers a multi-currency Swiss bank account and everything clients need to trade financial markets globally at the most competitive prices. FlowBank is a Swiss online bank that is reinventing the online investing experience. FlowBank’s trading platforms connect all investors to financial markets. The recently launched user-friendly FlowBank app can be used seamlessly with FlowBank Pro, one of the most sophisticated multi-asset-trading platforms on the market.
FlowBank’s desktop and mobile trading platforms connect clients to global markets with access to more than 50,000 financial products. Newly added platform features include fractional share trading and curated stock lists. The FlowBank card, coming soon, will further enhance the bank’s offerings.
FlowBank has an huge financial blog covering business, tech, and industry news. In addition, the bank regularly hosts webinars led by industry experts to provide insight into market news and trends. FlowBank is a member of esisuisse.
More about FlowBank: https://www.flowbank.com/
Yapeal wants to be the Swiss answer to Revolut Bank from UK – Made in Switzerland, for Switzerland. Independent new player in the Swiss financial industry, First FINMA licensed Fintech in Switzerland, Yapeal offers real-time financial services for retail customers and small businesses.
As the first FINMA licensed Fintech in Switzerland and a 100% cloud-native technology infrastructure built inhouse in CH, Yapeal offers fully digital Swiss accounts for private individuals and SME (small & medium enterprises). Yapeal is directly connected to the Swiss payment service infrastructure that enables the payment of bills and eBills. International online and offline payments are supported by their own issued VISA debit card with best exchange rates. Yapeal’s cloud-native technology allows an instant processing of transactions with a smart user experience via their financial smartphone app. The seamless integration of third-party services in their ecosystem, eg. the Y3A pension fund – powered by Private Bank Vontobel, opens the opportunity for many future business expansions connected to one digital identity. The very active and committed Yapster community accompanies Yapeal at the forefront of financial innovation to build the next generation of financial services for everyday consumers in a digital world.
More about Yapeal: https://www.yapeal.ch