Mobile only banks: when customers need just a mobile device to be banked

5 January 2018

Mobile only banks make routine financial operations convenient and cheaper for consumers globally, as they oppose to traditional banking giants arbitrarily establishing their own charges and fees for simple products or services. Mobile banks have no physical branches, which means they do not need to include their real estate expenses into the commissions paid by customers for the servicing. Mobile banks are as a matter of fact the usual banks, as they offer plastic cards and ATM cash withdrawals along with other added-value services, but their entire ecosystem is based on online or mobile environment.


SimpleFounded in 2009 by former CTO Alex Payne, CEO Joshua Reich and CFO Shamir Karkal, Simple is a Portland-based US direct bank performing all its operations exclusively online with no physical bank branches established across the United States. The bank was acquired in 2014 by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) through its US subsidiary BBVA Compass.

Simple is a part of STAR network offering customers the surcharge-free access to about 55 thousand ATM machines. Account holders of Simple get their Visa debit card linked to a FDIC-insured checking account and use it for mobile and online banking activity through the bank’s website or using dedicated mobile applications available both for Android and iOS devices. The revenue is generated by interest charged on customer deposits and interchange fees.

Users may deposit money to their Simple account through the smartphone app using checks up to $3,000 and through mail service or express courier. All checks are printed by a special bill pay service and are mailed to the given address of an account holder, thus eliminating the acceptance of third party checks and issue of blank checks for customers.


BankMobileFounded in 2015 by Jay Sidhu and Luvleen Sidhu, BankMobile is a New York-based first US bank providing free checking and saving accounts charging no fees. The bank also offers credit lines and access to around 55,000 ATMs in the START network, thus, featuring no surcharge-fees like Simple bank.

BankMobile also operates only online and customers may subscribe for a FDIC-insured account from the bank’s website. The bank sets no minimum balance limits, no direct deposit restrictions, charges no fees, no transfer fees, no late payment and overdraft fees. Customers may obtain an EMV-chip debit cards with real-time alerts enabled for transactions performed on the card along with balance notifications. The balance may be deposited using the Check from anywhere using just a camera on a mobile device.

Customers are offered to make internal transfers apart from ordinary operations with the debit card. They need just to enter a mobile phone number of email address to send money to anyone. Customers may also pay bills by screening the bill images into the mobile app.


MonzoFounded in 2015 as Mondo by Tom Blomfield, Jonas Huckestein, Jason Bates, Paul Rippon and Gary Dolman, Monzo is a UK-based digital bank licensed by Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, operating through mobile app with the use of a prepaid card. Monzo provides a debit MasterCard card to all customers currently subscribing for the service, establishing deposit amount, withdrawal and other transaction restrictions on the card use.

Monzo mobile banking service is accessible both from Androind and iOS-based mobile devices with real-time notifications enabled for transactions. Apart from usual set of features available with other mobile banking services, Monzo also allows card holders to view the history of places where the transactions were performed.

Atom Bank

Atom BankAtom Bank, a UK-based mobile only challenger bank was founded in 2014 by Anthony Thomson and in 2016 it obtained a license and as of today it is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Unlike the mobile banks mentioned above Atom Bank has no online access, all services may be accessed from smartphone app only.

Listed as number 8 in the KPMG’s list of Global FinTech Innovators 100, Atom Bank features a unique approach to banking, as it uses biometric authentication for transactions instead of conventional PIN-code authorization. Atom Bank has no physical branches.

Fidor Bank

Fidor BankFounded in 2009, Fidor Bank is a German online bank, which is also available for customers in the United Kingdom. Fidor Bank provides Smart Current Account and savings bonds for a term from 3 to 36 months. Customers may access the services offered by the bank using their Facebook profiles. The interest rate of the bank is tied to the number of likes on Facebook: thus, the more likes Fidor Bank gets, the higher is the interest rate. The bank also uses a protocol similar to blockchain technology to enable money transfers for its account holders. At the moment the services of Fidor Bank are available for users in Russia too.

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