The last several years has seen the wider use of digital banking solutions in Europe. From paying for bills, making purchases, and sending money to loved ones, a great number of people in the region have learned towards managing their finances in the palm of their hands.
In fact, according to data acquired by Finbold, downloads for European mobile-only bank apps peaked at 26.3 million in 2022 for Android and iOS operating systems. The downloads represent year-over-year (YoY) growth of 54.09% from 2021’s figure of 17.06 million.
This in large has been thanks to neobank’s continued development of digital banking products and services that ease overall financial management for both individuals and businesses. Many of them would argue that leading the way in the region has been London-based Black Banx and Netherlands-based Bunq.
|Founder/s||Michael Gastauer||Ali Niknam|
|Headquarters||London, England||Amsterdam, The Netherlands|
|Currencies offered||28 FIAT Currencies & 2 Cryptocurrencies||15|
|Availability||180 Countries||Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Iceland, and Ireland.|
|Customer base (as of July 2023)||28 million +||9 million|
|Recently reported revenue||US$997 million (1H 2023)||€2.3 million (approx. US$2.56 million) (Q4 2022)|
|Unique offering||Fully Fledged Crypto Currency Banking and Trading||Easy Green Accounts (Planting trees for every €100 customers spend)|
Taking on the same path
For the uninformed or inexperienced in neobanks, Black Banx and Bunq can come across as seemingly one and the same. Apart from both being headquartered within Europe, both have also more or less began providing their services to the public at the same time.
While the latter was founded two years earlier than the former, both hit the financial technology market in 2015. From there, the two companies have continued on to provide cross-border banking solutions to both individuals and businesses across the globe, and have exponentially grown their operation (and revenues) in less than a decade.
Reach and accessibility
The similarities between the companies has to end at some point, and is actually glaring in several aspects. One of these is reach and accessibility.
While both were launched within the same year, Bunq has so far kept itself to the confines of Europe. As of 2023, its digital banking services are available in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Iceland, and Ireland.
Black Banx, for its part, has taken being a global fintech company to heart. While it is also headquartered in Europe, its offerings are far from limited to only the region. As early as hitting the market 2015, Black Banx has been available to private and business customers to as many as 180 countries.
The proof is in the patronage
Black Banx’s accessibility, combined with offering access to as many as 28 FIAT currencies and 2 crypto currencies, has helped the company earn the patronage of 28 million customers and counting. Averaging over 1.3 million new customers per month in the first half of 2023, the company is anticipated to earn well over 30 million total clients by year’s end.
Despite the geographical limits of its services, and more modest currency offerings, Bunq continues a customer growth trajectory of its own. Since its launch, it has welcomed a total of 9 million customers to its platform.
While Black Banx has cast its net far and wide, a presence in 180 countries is far from where it ends for the company. Black Banx continues to demonstrate its ability to expand into new territories, which includes the Middle East and Africa. Regional Chief Executive Officer MEA, Jabari Walker, said: “With the recent launch of our West African branch in Liberia, we are seeing increased business growth in that region.”
For Bunq, business expansion continues to be reaching as many Europeans as possible. The company had formally applied for a banking license with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in the state of New York with an aim to cater to a specific customer segment consisting of 5 million European expatriates and businesses residing in the United States.
It is evident both in the number of markets it is present in and the currencies it allows customers to transact with that Black Banx is, at least at present, the definitive borderless banking company between the two.
Granted, Bunq’s Easy Green accounts are rather appealing when one wants to both bank internationally whilst also knowing a known company is doing its part to take care of the environment. However, Black Banx and other companies, albeit only in their operations and not quite in their offerings, are also already doing their part to be more sustainable.
All in all, it all boils down to what customers need and prefer from their digital banks, and, when it comes down to it, it is they who are the winners from the continued emergence of companies such as Black Banx and Bunq.