In Europe today most people use online banking with statistics showing that 70% of European adults access their online bank account at least once a month. In some European countries as many as 90% of adults use internet banking. In fact, the number of people using internet banking on a regular basis has doubled in the last 12 years. Europeans regularly use digital banking for checking their transaction history; transferring funds from one account to another; checking their balance and making payments. As online banks progressively offer more advanced services and financial products people are using internet banking to apply for loans; make investments and research their financial options.
Europe’s top online banks share a number of important features:
- With an online bank you should be able to receive payments by wire transfer.
- Make international payments by wire transfer.
- Control your banking remotely without having to visit a brick-and-mortar bank branch.
- The best online banks offer corporate bank accounts with comprehensive services.
- Top digital banks offer internationally accepted debit cards.
- Some leading online banks have a money transfer app.
Best Online Banks in Europe
Challenges Facing Online Banks in Europe
As online banking becomes progressively more popular digital banks are having to keep up with customer needs and offer more advanced services and products. The challenge facing online banks is to meet the needs of customers now and in the future. Customers are looking for a complete digital banking solution which can match and even surpass the services and products of traditional banks.
In addition to the comprehensive financial services offered by Europe’s leading digital banks they also provide support services, a user-friendly interface and low fees. Some digital banks are EMIs or Electronic Money Institutions that offer limited services and focus on currency exchange and money transfers. An EMI can still be used for their services as you would use a regular bank.
What to Look for in an Online Bank?
When choosing your online bank stick to those with a good reputation for excellence and FDIC coverage so that your money is insured. Choose one that offers high interest rates; a user-friendly interface; credit cards; low fees and excellent customer service.
Which are Europe’s Best Online Banks?
Among the best online banks are Monese; Revolut; Fidor; Hello Bank and N26. These digital banks make the list of best European banks because of their track record; comprehensive services and customer support. The best bank for you will depend on your personal banking needs. Many of these top European banks can provide you with loans, insurance, brokerage services, ATM access, money transfers and debit and credit cards.
How to Open a Bank Account Online in Europe?
If you hold an EU passport, then opening a personal bank account at one of the European online banks is simple. Online registration is not possible with all digital banks in Europe but there are those that do offer this service. To open a bank account online in Europe you will need proof of residence (a utility bill, phone bill, municipal tax bill etc.). To open a business account online in Europe the process is a little more complex. You will need to present the full details of your business; a KYC and AML questionnaire and list the business’s beneficial owners. Make sure your chosen bank accepts customers working in your field and jurisdiction.
Can I Open a Bank Account in Europe?
If you are a legal resident of the EU, you are entitled to open a basic bank account in Europe. Being an EU citizen does not automatically give you the right to open other kinds of bank accounts in Europe like a corporate account. If you are not a resident or citizen of a European country your options for opening a bank account in the EU are limited and expensive. Opening a bank account in Europe as a non-resident is easier in some EU countries than in others. If you opt for online banking in Europe, you will have access to most of the features of a traditional bank but with the added advantage of being able to do your banking digitally on your mobile device or a computer.
What to Look for in a Top Online Bank in Europe
- Efficiency – Many of the leading online banks choose to outsource some services to increase efficiency rather than having to develop the services themselves. For example, some EMIs and online banks use a third-party service to handle customer service and support or to handle AML checks and compliance. By using third-party services for some of their functions digital banks can save time and money leaving them more time to focus on your needs.
- Security – Licensed online banks have to comply with the same regulations as regular banks and so they can reach the same high standards as traditional banks. One of the important safety features of all licensed banks is mandatory funds’ insurance. Always choose an authorized and licensed online bank.
- Fees and Charges – Online banks can operate at a lower cost to traditional banks. This saving means they can afford to offer customers lower rates and fees. Online banks will generally offer customers higher interest rates and lower fees than traditional banks.
- Practicality – Online banks can provide customers with an international debit card so that you can make payments and purchases; withdraw money; set limits and permissions; make security changes and block or unblock your own card if need be. A top online bank should give you all the services of a traditional bank but with easier access directly from your mobile phone app or desktop computer.
Best Online Banks in Europe
There are many online banks in Europe so to help you narrow down the best of the lot take a look at this list which includes the top digital banks in Europe offering full-solution banking. These top European online banks are the best digital alternatives to traditional branch-based banks. Some of the listed banks are linked to a network of brick-and-mortar branches through a parent company.
Revolut is a FinTech company based in the UK and is available in 33 countries. They offer low fees and many extra services and products including personal loans, eMoney accounts, phone insurance, travel insurance and Cryptocurrency trading but unlike several other online banks Revolut does not offer overdrafts, joint accounts or interest on your savings.
Valyuz is a leading electronic money institution registered and regulated in Lithuania and in Europe. Valyuz offers a range of financial services and products to individuals and businesses. Valyuz account holders can manage their finances through a secure system with fast and simple applications. Continue reviewing
This digital bank is based in the UK and part of the Clydesdale Bank & Yorkshire Bank Group. Among the services offered by B are current and instant savings accounts that work together; contactless debit cards; loans; 24/7 phone customer service and B is accessed via a super-smart app with Touch ID. Customers earn interest on their current accounts up to 2,000GBP.
Monzo is considered extremely user-friendly with an easy-to-use app. Although Monzo is based in the UK you can use this digital bank in any country where MasterCard is accepted. There are no fees for international spending; they offer overdrafts and loans; fast money transfers and integration with other online services. Monzo lets you set yourself budgets; you can pay direct debits through your Monzo account; earn interest on your savings and sort your money into separate «pots» for different purposes – rent money, spending, bills etc. And if you put your salary in your Monzo account they can advance you the money a day early!
The mobile-only digital bank Starling is from the UK and they offer personal and business accounts; 24/7 customer service; joint accounts; an app that gives you instant notifications and insights; they charge no fees overseas and have strong security using Touch ID. You can split the bill; control a flexible overdraft and get interest on your savings. Starling’s personal account won the Best British Bank and Best Current Account 2019. Their business account is also an award winner and easy to use.
Monese is perhaps the easiest and quickest online account to set up. Monese is UK-based but can be used in 20 countries with GBP and Euro. They offer free international transfers and free same-currency transfers. Monese does not offer interest on your savings and there are no overdrafts or joint accounts but there is customer service in 11 languages and an excellent contactless prepaid debit card.
If you are looking for a diligent Euro digital bank then N26 is the answer. Based in Germany N26 is available in 22 countries and offers an excellent reward program; money transfers; a checking account with debit card and ATM cash withdrawals. With N26’s «Space» feature you can create sub-accounts for various purposes. You create a Space and set your financial goals then watch as you move towards your target. Soon you’ll be able to share Spaces with up to 10 people via their easy to use app.
Hello Bank was created in 2013 by BNP Paribas to be their fully online bank. This innovative Belgian bank keeps up-to-date with the latest trends and financial management needs of people on the go. Among the services offered by Hello Bank are loans; brokerage services; insurance; saving accounts; current accounts; Visa credit cards and prepaid cards. Their basic banking current account costs just 1 Euro a month and for that you get web, app and phone banking; a debit card; you can make standard orders and direct debits; manage your bank statements and make up to 36 manual operations each year in all BNP Paribas Fortis bank agencies.
This German-based digital bank offers personal current accounts; savings bonds and a business account as well as investments; loans; cards and overdraft options. You can set up standing orders; make international transfers and all with complete transparency. Their Smart Community is a forum for customers to discuss finance issues and even do business. Since September 2019 Fidor no longer offers products and services in the UK but continues to be a leading online bank in Europe.
First Direct is an online bank based in the UK which offers 24/7 phone, mobile or online customer service. By partnering with HSBC First Direct customers can withdraw cash and make cash or cheque payments at HSBC brick-and-mortar branches. Some First Direct services are also available at UK post offices. Overdrafts can be arranged with no interest charged on the first 250GBP. First Direct arranges life, travel and house insurance. They offer loans, cards and even mortgages.
The same banks have remained at the top of the list of Europe’s largest banks since 2017. The largest banks in Europe are still the U.K.’s HSBC followed by French financial institutions BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole. The leading European bank, HSBC has total assets of approximately $2,470 billion. By the end of 2017 there were 6,250 banks operating in Europe.
A more recent list of 100 top European banks comes from the 2018 S&P Global Market Intelligence report. In this report banks were ranked according to their reported assets and were not adjusted for differences made by various accounting treatments. For many years U.S. based financial institutions dominated S&P Global Market’s annual report of the largest banks but recently Chinese banks have taken the lead. When total assets are assessed four of the top 15 largest banks in the world are Chinese and a total of six financial institutions on the list are based in Asia. In stark comparison only two of the 15 largest banks in the S&P Global Market’s report are based in the U.S.
Which are the World’s Largest Banks?
The following list of largest banks in the world is ranked according to total assets and not market capitalization.
This Beijing-based commercial bank provides comprehensive banking services to personal and business customers through its 14,977 outlets. They have commercial banking branches and subsidiaries in 29 countries.
- Agricultural Bank of China
AgBank is one of China’s «Big Four» and has 24,000 branches serving 320 million retail customers and 2.7 million corporate customers. They have branches in London, New York, Tokyo, Frankfort, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong and mainland China. The bank operates in four segments – corporate finance; personal finance; treasury segment and asset management segment.
This Japanese financial services group is a holding company providing financial and investment services including trust banking, commercial banking, assets management services and international finance. Listed on the Tokyo, Nagoya and New York stock exchanges MUFG has capital of 2,141 billion Yen as of September 2019.
- Bank of China
One of China’s «Big Four» and at one time China’s only bank. Today they specialize in foreign exchange transactions and have the largest presence in China’s international banking operations. They have an international presence in financial centers across the globe and act as a clearing house for the Chinese currency.
This giant U.S. multinational investment bank and holding company is the largest bank in the U.S. They provide diverse financial services to consumers, large and small companies, governments and institutions. With 250,000 employees the bank has a presence in over 100 markets.
This British multinational investment bank and holding company operates in 65 countries and territories. Their four global business groups – Retail Banking and Wealth Management; Global Banking and Markets and Commercial Banking serve more than 40 million customers worldwide.
- BNP Paribas
The French international banking group BNP Paribas is the largest bank in the Eurozone. They focus on retail banking and services plus corporate institutional banking offering a wide range of financial services to customers around the world.
This multinational investment and financial services company is the second largest in the U.S. and one of the Big Four providing services such as investing, asset management, risk management, online banking and more. Their comprehensive services are offered to individual consumers, large corporations and small and middle-market businesses.
Which are the UK’s Largest Banks?
Originally established in 1865 in Honk Kong to facilitate financial trade between Europe and Asia HSBC has grown into a multinational investment and holding company providing diverse financial services to 40 million customers worldwide. In preparation for Brexit they plan to move some of their U.K.-based investment bankers to Paris but maintain their head office in London.
- Royal Bank of Scotland
RBS offers financial products and services to personal and commercial customers and large corporations and institutions through several brands that include NatWest; Isle of Man Bank and Lombard, among others. They are based in Edinburgh but support their customers in accessing international markets. As RBS is largely U.K.-focused Brexit will not impact them as much as other large British banks.
This well-known 260-year old British bank provides personal, business, private and international banking services with products that include investing; home, motor and life insurance; mortgages; loans; cards and accounts. Lloyds is also one of Britain’s Big Four clearing banks and has 1,300 branches in the U.K. with additional offices in 45 countries around the world.
This multinational investment bank and financial services company operates in four main areas – corporate banking; personal banking; wealth management and investment management. Recently they’ve put an emphasis on FinTech and innovation. In anticipation of Brexit they have expanded their existing subsidiary, Barclays Bank Ireland in order to continue providing services to clients following the departure from the EU.
National Westminster Bank is a retail and commercial bank and in the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. It is considered one of the U.K.’s Big Four clearing banks with almost 1,000 branches and 3,400 ATMs across the country. They offer online banking and a full range of banking and insurance services.
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