Fintech boom or neobank star recipe


This article is for those interested in online banking and the fintech industry, and considering starting their own payment system or neobank. Here you will find the right recipe for creating a neobank, with real case studies and experiences of well-known brands.

As of August 2021, there were over 220 neobanks around the world while the total value of the top 10 fintech startups was $ 72 billion.

Every day, a new Fintech emerges, competing with existing players and leaving them no room for maneuver. New Fintech startups face more challenges. Everyone should have their strengths, and if you don’t stand out, customers will go elsewhere.

How to hit the jackpot among other neobanks? How to attract customers while remaining profitable?

Before registering the legal person and obtaining a financial license, company founders must develop and approve a clear business model. Believe me: things are sometimes done backwards: “We will think about it along the way, we will invoke something. Questions include: what will be the source of profits for your Fintech project, how will it attract customers, where are your customers (my favorite answer is all over the world J), how will you be different from the many? original and strong competitors?

At SBSB and I personally since 2015, we have been engaged in supporting FinTech projects, including neobanks. With substantial experience of over 25 Fintech projects in production just in 2021, we reviewed 50 stories of successful financial startups and also looked at those that failed, analyzing the reasons for their failure. Personal meetings with founders of fintech companies and neobanks who shared their vision, experiences and challenges brought the most important ideas.

During this period, I defined a clear set of criteria necessary to launch a popular and profitable neobank.

Knock in the same place

The lack of maneuver and insufficient customer focus of traditional banks has paved the way for the success of today’s online banks.

Some neobanks targeted a very small audience “excluded” by banks – customers with low payment capacities and no stable income.

For example, about 80% of XW Bank (China) customers are residents of cities and rural areas with no credit history and never used banking services. Some companies have even gone further by reducing their audience to teenagers (Greenlight, USA) or the LGBTQ + community (Bung, Netherlands).

Other neobanks focus on isolated country-specific issues: Sony Bank has launched a new online banking service in English. Before, you could open an account in a Japanese bank but after providing a lot of documents and only if you were fluent in Japanese.

It’s all about the customer

Every Fintech startup puts the customer first. For example, ZA Bank guarantees extremely fast customer service: if a credit issue takes more than 30 minutes, ZA Bank offers a discount of HK $ 10 for every minute of delay.

Iranian neobank Bankino offers its users round-the-clock support, while Swiss Yapeal now has a Yapolina chatbot that immediately handles customer queries. Qonto (France) has strived to make its services as convenient as possible for its target audience – business owners and the self-employed.

Another popular feature is the prepayment of salary. At Bankino (Iran), users have access up to 50% of the amount payable, and at Chime (USA) they can receive the money two days in advance.

The neobanks are undoubtedly the champions of advances in the banking sector. For them, online-only transactions are no longer a novelty. The implementation of AI in the operating system of neobanks is currently underway, as is the transition from banking applications to messaging.

Besides traditional banking services, neobanks also allow their clients to invest and transact in cryptocurrencies. Spanish Bnext offers functionality to manage digital assets, and Revolut (Great Britain) – to buy and sell major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Crypto functions are expected to be launched by Monobank, Ukraine.

As for the success of Wise (formerly Transferwise), the company achieved it by becoming one of the first providers to offer virtually free money transfers.

Most neobanks quickly build up their clientele thanks to referral programs: Timo (Vietnam) paid US $ 4 for the first two friends brought in as clients. MrBeast, the Ambassador for Current (USA) announced via his YouTube channel that he would personally transfer $ 1.00 to the first 100,000 people who sign up using his referral link.

Is a banking license required?

It is mistakenly believed that a banking license is essential to launch and develop a successful neobank. Koho, the Canadian digital bank that partners with banking institution Peoples Trust, does not hold its own banking license but claims annual sales of over $ 500 million and 175,000 customers. Chime, operating under an EMI license, is rated No. 1 in the United States (valued at $ 14.5 billion).


  1. Develop an economic model:

– identify profit points, fees / interests

– define a marketing strategy

– break down the target audience, down to specific groups of people

– identify the sensitive points of the potential geographic market and deal with them with your product

– study the market of local competitors and their strengths / weaknesses

– establish a detailed financial plan

2. Increase investments (from US $ 1 million);

3. Determine the business structure and the licenses required. Optional – choose a partner bank whose license will allow you to provide financial services

4. Build a strong and energetic team; it is desirable to have an experienced partner in the banking sector


Maximum customer focus (there are already enough traditional banks)

Flexibility, rapid adaptability to changes, market acumen and willingness to design new products ahead of competitors (which never sleep!)


Find a famous brand or face to promote your product


Look for promising new markets, don’t be afraid to scale up

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