THE DIGITAL-ONLY CHALLENGER BANKS EXPLAINER: The new breed of bank threatening to beat retail banks at their own game

economy

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This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Weighed down by a sluggish global economy, turbulent capital markets, and heavier regulation after the 2008 financial crisis, many big banks have scrimped on innovation.

In doing so, they’ve failed to keep up with customers’ embrace of and demand for all things digital and mobile. That’s opened the door to a new breed of banks dedicated to delivering an optimal digital customer experience: digital-only “challenger banks,” or “neobanks.”

These players’ agile, modular, wholly digital systems let them adapt quickly to changing consumer demands and expectations, threatening incumbents. However, the big banks still have the edge in consumer trust. This gives legacy firms a window of opportunity to launch digital subsidiaries of their own to fend off the upstarts.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, we look at the features that make neobanks a distinct new competitor, the range of models they’re adopting, and the regions in which neobanks are particularly flourishing. We also discuss the challenges neobanks still face, and the opportunity these obstacles present for incumbents to get ahead in the transition to digital banking.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Digital-only challenger banks, also called neobanks, focus on digital delivery channels, either online or mobile. They are dedicated to improving on incumbent retail banks’ weakest point — customer experience.
  • Now that customers have more options focused on a better user experience, incumbents are being forced to raise their game. Challenger banks are finding ways to deliver cutting-edge banking services to consumers, meaning incumbents no longer set the terms.
  • Neobanks’ biggest challenge — winning consumer trust and users — is also incumbents’ best chance to fight back. They can use their brand recognition and trust to promote their own digital subsidiaries.
  • Challenger banks’ emergence is about banking moving over to digital. The only question is who will win in the race to transition to this new landscape: independent players or incumbents’ digital subsidiaries.

In full, the report:

  • Looks at the different business models neobanks are adopting to compete with incumbents.
  • Gives an overview of the neobank scene in different geographies.
  • Explains the biggest obstacles neobanks still face, and how they can navigate them.
  • Examines the opportunity big banks have to win the race to digital.
  • Discusses what the banking scene of the future will look like, and who might come out on top.

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