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Many start-ups are vying for customer mindshare in the financial technology (fintech) space. Challenger banks and newer money transfer providers seek to supplant legacy banks and corporations that have been around for decades. They attempt to do this by offering efficient, low-fee, and transparent mobile-first applications. Fintechs typically market to individual and business customers who travel frequently, live abroad, freelance, and sell products globally.
How to Choose a Financial App/Company
Choosing a financial app depends on three factors, including your needs, financial goals, and budget. Understanding those aspects will make it easier to select the right partner and company.
Assess your needs first. Before evaluating financial companies, consider your requirements. For example, you plan to travel a lot and want insurance coverage. Or, perhaps you request payments often and want to use a customizable link to make the process more efficient.
Understand your financial goals. For everyday financial transactions, mobile-first banks are excellent. However, suppose you want to start investing or seek a tax-exempt account. Most challenger banks don’t offer robust investing platforms. Moreover, tax-free accounts are rare. Thus, you might have to look around or stick with the status quo to achieve your goals.
Consider your budget. While free accounts/plans are standard with neobanks, users must pay to access more features and benefits. It’s the classic freemium model that thousands of tech companies use. They offer free plans with the goal of converting users to premium accounts. Secondly, monthly plan/subscription fees can add up to over a hundred euros, pounds, or dollars annually. However, for some people, paying monthly fees might not be financially prudent or practical for their budget/saving objectives or debt obligations.
Fintechs and neobanks will continue to add products, services, and features to compete with their rivals and traditional banks. What one company doesn’t have today, it will likely offer in a few months to a year. Therefore, you needn’t worry about missing out on the long term. Challenger mobile bank apps typically have these features:
- Virtual and physical bank cards
- Instant push notifications on all transactions
- Multiple accounts for saving and budgeting goals
- No foreign exchange fees when spending abroad
- Free money transfers to other users
- Make recurring payments
- Download and print account activity
- Connectivity to third-party apps, for example, Apple Pay and Google Pay
- Card lock/unlock at your discretion, for example, if your card gets lost or stolen
Let’s review a couple of innovative fintechs and banking apps that regularly make headlines.
Founded in 2015, Revolut is on a mission to facilitate global spending and transfers at the best exchange rates. Individual or business, Revolut is the only banking alternative designed for a worldwide lifestyle. It offers free and premium products and services at affordable monthly rates.
Revolut focuses on today’s hyper-connected world by being a progressive financial partner. It wants to adapt to your needs, give you control, and continuously push you into new and exciting spaces. It welcomes customers to a world of better money management.
Revolut has millions of customers and an “excellent” rating on Trustpilot. It’s available on Apple and Google Play app stores.
Founded in 2015, Curve is on a mission to change the way people spend, send, see, and save money. It simplifies your financial life by connecting your accounts to one smart card and an even more intelligent app. You can link your debit and credit cards to Curve’s app and spend it from any of your accounts using its Curve Mastercard.
Curve focuses on a couple of market trends, including the fragmentation of financial services and convergence of customer experiences. It believes the endgame will be a connected world of money, tailored individually for each user.
Curve has thousands of customers and an “excellent” rating on Trustpilot. It’s available on Apple and Google Play app stores.
Revolut makes money through plan subscriptions and insurance premiums. It shares revenues or collects fees through third-party product and service arrangements; for example, customers can earn cash rewards through purchases at select partners (Revolut Perks). It charges fees on withdrawals above its fair usage limits. Weekend transactions and currency conversion fees may apply. It collects custodial and commissions fees from investment accounts. It makes money from replacement cards and delivery fees. Click here for Revolut’s fees.
Curve makes money through plan subscriptions. It shares revenues or collects fees through third-party product and service arrangements; for example, customers can earn cashback through purchases at select partners (Curve Cash). It charges fees on withdrawals above its fair usage limits. Standard and weekend exchange rate fees may apply. It makes money from replacement cards and Amex Wallet top-ups. Click here for Curve’s fees.
Products & Services
Revolut’s products and services include:
- EU and UK current accounts
- Commission-free stock trading
- Commission-free cryptocurrency trading
- Interest-bearing account
- Money transfer
- Business account
Unique features (depending on the card/plan and country):
- New: Earn interest on your money with Savings Vaults.
- Round up payments and save the difference automatically.
- Round up payments and donate the difference to charities.
- Withdraw up to £600 each month for free (a 2 percent charge applies after that).
- Get 100 commission-free stock trades per month.
- Buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple.
- Get 0.1 percent cashback within Europe and 1 percent outside Europe on all card payments.
- Get delayed baggage and flight insurance.
- Get exclusive partner perks.
- Gain access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide with LoungeKey.
- Use a concierge service to help manage your lifestyle.
Curve’s products and services include:
- Card consolidation via single card use (Curve Mastercard)
- Money transfer
Unique features (depending on the card/plan):
- Withdraw up to £400 each month for free (a 2 percent charge applies after that).
- “Go Back in Time” to switch payment sources retroactively.
- Get 1 percent cashback from selected retailers with Curve Cash.
- Get lost luggage and rental car collision insurance.
- Gain access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide with LoungeKey.
|UK current account||Yes||No|
|Euro current account||Yes||No|
Revolut and Curve have three subscription plans, and costs are reduced for annual payments made in advance.
|Plan A||Plan B||Plan C|
Curve’s single card solution is unique but slightly gimmicky. It seeks to replace the use of multiple credit and debit cards with one card. Alternatively, if you like Revolut–or another financial company–you would probably default to using its card and no others (or its card most of the time). Secondly, financially savvy individuals know that using up to two cards is the best and quickest way to accumulate rewards. Those that do wouldn’t find Curve useful. Lastly, one study showed that people with excellent credit scores had an average of three open/active cards. Thus, Curve’s one card solution likely wouldn’t appeal to individuals with robust credit histories.
Almost everything that Curve can do Revolut can do as well, but the opposite isn’t the case. Curve’s primary value proposition is single card use. Aside from its retroactive payment source feature (which is a byproduct of using one card), it doesn’t offer much to help people with their financial lives. Its interbank exchange rates, rewards, push notifications, and so on are standard among challenger banks, including Revolut, N26, and Monzo. By contrast, Revolut offers investing and insurance products among many unique features.
“Curve Send” lets you send money from any of your bank accounts (via the debit cards you have linked to Curve) to any other account in 26 different currencies. Revolut also lets you send money and supports 30 currencies. Both companies alongside TransferGo offer cost-free transfers. However, surpassing daily/monthly limits or sending on weekends will attract small fees.
Revolut outshines Curve and is comparable to many established banks. In 2018, Revolut received a European bank license. With a license, it will continue to build upon its already impressive line of products. It has emerged as one of the top European/global challenger banks and fintechs alongside N26 and TransferWise. Perhaps Curve will offer more in the future to increase its value proposition. Currently, however, Revolut has a better product portfolio, costs less, and is available in more countries/regions. Those reasons justify choosing Revolut over Curve.