Bank to the future – 4 challenger banks worth watching

By Oliver Smith 20 October 2015

Bricks and mortar banking is history. Get a taste of the future with these 4 new apps.

Next year banks will be turned upside down as a host of new mobile apps are gearing up for launch in 2016.

These apps are expected to kill off high street bank branches, and bring banking to millions of people in less-developed countries for the first time.

We’ve already seen the launch of one niche mobile bank, Monese, targeting immigrants and expats who are looking for an easier current account.

But 2016 we will see a wave of mobile banks vying for a space in your wallet. These new challengers want you to trust them with your money, will you take the plunge and switch?

Here are the four mobile banks we’re excited about:

1. Mondo

Mondo have blazed the trail with hundreds signing up for their beta programme.

We sat down with co-founder Tom Blomfield earlier this summer. Mondo’s app will automatically apply for a refund if you forget to tap out on London Underground and let you block your debit card with just one tap.

Blomfield says existing banks are all “built around these punitive fees and charges and it is absolutely scandalous. It means it is in their interest to let you slip up, which is hugely immoral.”

“We’re trying to build a bank that keeps you informed, keeps you in control and has no hidden fees or charges.”

Mondo is gearing up to launch a beta-test of its app this month, you can join the waiting list here.

2. Tandem

The most secretive mobile bank to date, Tandem surfaced last month and since then few details have been leaked.

Tandem has yet to reveal its strategy. Its founder Ricky Knox revealed “not aiming to be a niche mobile only bank”, and told City AM it plans to open call centres as well as an app.

Knox has a proven track record and was one of the co-founders of money transfer service Azimo.

The secretive nature of Tandem is exciting (they don’t even have a website yet), but it also means that compared to its competitors Tandem is likely to be the furthest from launch.

3. Atom Bank

The Durham-based team established by Metro Bank founder Anthony Thomson is the only mobile bank to acquire a banking licence by the Bank of England.

The over 100-strong team is bring led by former First Direct CEO Mark Mullen (pictured) who earlier this year said:

“Customers will have a bank in their pocket that’s ready whenever and wherever they need it”.

Atom Bank will build £9m headquarters in Durham which will allow them to grow to 340 people.

4. Starling Bank

In February Starling suffered a setback as its management team split, leading to the creation of Mondo as Tom Blomfield (originally Starling’s chief technology officer and co-founder) left the company.

Led by Anne Boden, the former chief operating officer of Allied Irish Banks, Starling turned things around and recently raised £10m to fund the launch of its mobile bank app.

Starling is still secretive around the details of what its app will offer, so far Boden has said:

“Our target is people who are always looking at their phones because they’re living their life on their smartphones. All these apps on their phones make their lives better but their banking app doesn’t.”

Starling hoped to gain a banking licence and launch by the end of 2015. Latest reports say this has now been pushed back to early 2016.