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What Is Digital Banking? Meaning, Types and Benefits

What Is Digital Banking? Meaning, Types and Benefits
Alex Malyshev
What Is Digital Banking? Meaning, Types and Benefits

Revolut, Fidor, Simple, N26, and Monzo are just some of the well-known digital banks that allow customers to open an account on their phone in minutes, whenever and wherever they want. But digital banking is not limited only to online banks. Over the past decade, banks that have created internal digital bank spin-offs optimized revenues and reduced operating costs by up to 70%.

But before we go any further, let us clarify the basics.

What is a digital bank?

In layman’s terms, a digital bank is a bank that operates online and provides its customers the services that were previously available only at a bank branch.

What is digital banking?

Digital banking involves the digitization of all traditional banking products, processes and activities to serve customers through online channels.

What are digital banking services exactly?

Most frequently, the include the following operations and activities (all the traditional banking services that are available 24/7 on mobile phones, computers and compatible smart devices, without the need for a customer’s presence in the bank branch):

  • Obtaining bank statements
  • Cash withdrawals
  • Funds transfers
  • Checking/savings account management
  • Opening deposit accounts
  • Loan management
  • Bill payments
  • Cheques management
  • Transaction records monitoring

Obviously, digital banking software makes all traditional services easier to access, understand and manage.

This approach allows banks to test lower risk concepts before moving parts of the old legacy business to the new system. Notable examples include Goldman Sachs’ Marcus, RBS’ Bó, and State Bank of India’s YONO, which gained more than 26 million customers and reached profitability within 18 months. The stats below proves the assumption that digital transformation will be a top priority for banks in 2021.

What Is Digital Banking? Meaning, Types and BenefitsSource: Digital Banking Report, The Financial Brand

Digital banking vs. online banking: are they the same?

Although the two terms may seem interchangeable, there are actually fundamental differences between digital and online banking.

Online banking includes only some transactional functions of the underlying core banking system. Online banking is typically accessed via the Internet and provides basic banking functions such as account management and statement access. The capabilities of an online banking system are limited and cannot be quickly expanded to provide additional banking services to consumers. 

Digital banking systems are much more flexible and allow banks to add and expand features much faster than traditional systems. Digital banking relies on high-level process automation, web-based services and APIs to provide banks and their customers with high levels of cost efficiency, security and flexibility. Modern banking solutions enable a fully digital customer journey, generating real-time data streams and accelerating key analytics.

There’s one more term frequently confused with online and digital banking – mobile banking. It can be defined as a service provided by an existing bank to its customers enabling them to perform transactions via their mobile devices, without the need to visit a bank branch. 

So, out of the three notions, digital banking is a much broader one. It is safe to say that it is made up of the combination of online and mobile banking.

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The benefits of digital banking for consumers

As more and more digital banks enter the market, it is important to understand how modern digital banking solutions enable them to offer better and cheaper services than traditional competitors. 

Cost savings

Traditional banks invest a lot of time and resources in checking and accounting. By eliminating redundant back-office processes, digital banking software significantly reduces operating costs. Digital banking systems remove a lot of work from banks by automating the processes associated with daily transactions. Digitization reduces the number of steps and people involved in transactions, reducing the risk of costly financial errors.

Improved usability

Integrated KYC and AML protocols enable digital banks and customers to open accounts within minutes from any internet-enabled device. ID Verification systems and risk assessments enable banks to serve customers quickly and easily, allowing people who are not bank customers to access financial services. A major advantage of digital banking is that it is available 24/7. This means that customers can carry out any transaction from anywhere and access a wide range of services. 

Greater personalization

Digital banking software enables sophisticated personalization strategies powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Banks can offer customers relevant financial options, interactive tools, and educational resources at the right time. Automated budgeting, spending analytics, savings reminders, and many other tools help inform and engage customers.

Wow-features

Digital banks already have many features that established banks simply cannot offer, such as buying cryptocurrencies and gold or investing in stock markets directly in the banking app. Digital banking customers can instantly change their security settings, transaction limits, and even specify whether or not they want to enable NFC or magnetic stripe payments.

The types of digital banks

While the terms “neobank” and “challenger bank” are familiar to nearly anyone today, telling one from the other may be difficult, so let’s dot all the i’s and explore the main types of digital banks.

Neobank

Neobank is a digital bank operating online, without any physical presence, which provides its customers remote access to its services via a mobile app.  Many neobanks don’t hold a bank license and partner with an existing bank for bank-licensed operations (which means, their customers need to create an account at the partner bank). Often, the range of services offered by a neobank is narrower compared to the licensed banks.

Challenger bank

This term originated in the UK and refers to a recently launched bank that “challenges” the traditional banking institutions. Being more user-friendly and cost effective for an end-user, challenger banks focus on the audience segments that are underserved by the big financial institutions.

New bank

These are fully licensed neobanks that provide a full range of banking services and their only difference from the brick-and-mortar banks is the mode of operation – which is completely online. The examples of the new banks are Revolut, Monzo, N26, and Starling Bank.

Nonbank

Exactly as the name implies, these are non banking institutions that provide financial services – for example,  streamlined loans or mortgages, but they don’t simultaneously accept deposits or offer checking and savings accounts. Some of the nonbanks like Monese operate on EMI license.

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Digital banking solution providers

According to McKinsey, more than 65% of banks surveyed are exploring the potential of next-generation core banking platforms. The digital banking experiences offered by challengers are forcing incumbent banks to re-examine legacy technology in their core business. 

What Is Digital Banking? Meaning, Types and Benefits

Source: Capgemini and Efma

White-label digital banking software

White-label software for digital banking helps banks radically modernize and benefit from lower costs, faster time to market, rapid scaling, and personalized offerings for consumers. Companies looking to launch a digital bank can get to market in a fraction of the time by partnering with SDK.finance, a core banking software provider, to save development time and costs and build their bank on top of the pre-built digital banking software

Organizations that have a dedicated IT team in place and appropriate hardware capacity can implement SDK.finance’s white label digital banking solution on-site (source code with a license) and be completely independent of the technology provider. With a banking software license, the solution can be customized with new modules and integrations and the core functionality of the software can be extended. 

 

What Is Digital Banking? Meaning, Types and Benefits

FAQ

What is digital banking?

Digital banking involves the digitalization of all traditional banking products, processes, and activities to service customers using online channels.

With digital banking, any bank branch services are available and accessible 24/7 on mobiles, computers, and compatible smart devices. 

What are the examples of digital banking?

Revolut, Fidor, Simple, N26, and Monzo are some of the better-known digital banking systems out there today using which customers can open an account in minutes on their phone, whenever and wherever they want.

However, digital banking is not limited only to online banks. In the past decade, brick-and-mortar banks that launched internal digital bank spin-offs, optimized their revenue and reduced operating costs by up to 70%.

What is the difference between digital banking vs online banking?

Essentially, online banking tackles the "core" banking operations, performed by most of the bank customers.

Digital banking, is a deeper term that encompasses all kinds of transactions performed via technology.

Therefore, online banking can be percieved as a form of digital banking, while digital banking means way more than just online banking.

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