Features of Ukrainian Digital Banks.
Do you love fintech as much as I do? Especially the Ukrainian one, which drives the banking system of my native country. It is still very young but makes progress that fascinates foreign banks. For instance, PrivatBank was the world’s first to develop payment mini-terminals, allow entering internet banking through QR code, launch online encashment, and make digital covers for banking cards. Today, it offers a unique catalog of digital covers (pure banking fashion).
Many Ukrainians, myself included, have faced the banking systems of various countries over the last seven months. Unlike the Ukrainian one, they are more regulated, slow, and too conservative. Over the last 10 years, Ukrainians have gotten used to fast and accessible services, technology and digital environment. We have reasons to be proud of, therefore I want to tell you about interesting features of Ukrainian online banking.
Review of Ukrainian Digital Banks
Today, there are several digital banks operating in Ukraine:
- monobank (operating under the Universal Bank banking license);
- Bank Vlasny Rakhunok (a digital project of Bank Vostok, Mastercard, and Fozzy Group — one of the leading Ukrainian retailers);
- O.Bank (belongs to Idea Bank);
- Neobank (operating under the ConcordBank license and based on Concord Fintech Solutions, first in Ukraine open fintech ecosystem);
- izibank and Sportbank (TASCOMBANK mobile partner neobanks).
Many services can be called basic: communal payment and mobile top up with zero commission, credit limit ($1000–6666.67), low-interest rate within the grace period up to 62 days (0–0.00001%), interest on the balance of a client’s own funds, online currency exchange, bonus programs (“Jar”, “Backpack”, “Nazbiratus”), opening deposits, adding cards of other banks, issuing credits and installment, money transfer to recipients from a phone book, free service, cashback and analysis of expenses, regular payments in one click, and referral programs (some banks do not provide during the war).
Every application has its features (the most interesting above). For example, Bank Vlasny Rahunok allows its clients to replenish their accounts with cash and zero fees at the Silpo cash desks and redeem points in Silpo and Le Silpo supermarkets (two of the biggest Ukrainian food supermarkets and delicacy market chains). O.Bank provides zero fees for currency conversion, while Neobank allows purchasing non-cash currency under the deposit within the app. Sportbank, that positions itself as a financial partner for those into sports and outdoor activities, offers 10% cash back on goods and services in the category “Sports” monthly.
The Monoinvest application allows trading stocks of companies from the S&P500 и ETF fund list, using a free broker account (monobank provides clients with sub-brokerage services). War bonds can be bought in mobile applications of Ukrhazbank, PUMB, and monobank, and domestic government bonds in Privat24. Here clients can open an internet card for online shopping (currencies available — UAH, USD, EUR) or add personal discount cards to the app.
Original features of Ukrainian fintech
All features are taken from the Privat24 and monobank applications. I visited numerous countries and now live in Europe. Nowhere have I seen such diversity of benefits and conveniences of online banking as offered by these banks. There are several more reasons for choosing them.
The Privat24 application from PrivatBank, nationalized in 2016, provides the biggest number of services. It was the world’s first bank to use one-time SMS passwords to enter the app. Then it became possible to withdraw cash in the PrivatBank cash machines even without a physical card, as well as money at cashier’s desks in shops and gas stations. Privat24 for business allows legal entities and individuals to settle accounts with partners and suppliers, process loans and make money transfers, perform currency transactions, and conduct document flow. Privat24 allows ordering cash to withdraw in a specific bank branch. Once a year, users can check their credit history for free and credit rating for $1.66, and activate the StatusControl service for $16.66 to monitor credit history.
Monobank not only embodies convenience and functionality but also offers emotional banking to clients, unlike others. According to Oleh Horohovsky, one of the founders, everything the team makes is emotions, since mono creates the product that loves.
Free card issuance and a possibility to take it personally at a place convenient to the client — the nearest bank branch, point of issue, Nova Poshta (express delivery service) — or wait for a courier. Nowadays, almost every Ukrainian bank offers this service.
Shake To Pay. Sounds like the name of the cocktail, but in fact, everything is much better. The monobank clients launch the app and turn on geolocation, make “shoooop” with their phone, and money is transferred to a friend’s account. The GPS-based function allows transferring money with no need to input card details manually. The technology works when the monobank application is launched, including searching bank clients near a user (30–50 meters). It can also be used to pay for services in taxis, bars, cafés, and restaurants, which added this function.
Transfer funds in a minute. Let’s be honest — almost in several seconds.
24/7 life support. For instance, monobank offers care services, and specialists communicate in user-friendly messengers (Viber, Messenger, Telegram).
Instant bank statements and receipts in a personal account, email, or messenger (Viber, Messenger, Telegram). Bank statements to the Embassy (in Ukrainian and English) on the presence and status of a card or account, absence of debts, certificates for public authorities.
Opening a private entrepreneur account in one click. It is possible to manage a personal card and private entrepreneur account in a created accounting web cabinet.
Internet acquiring from monobank offers an ability to accept one-use payment links (an ideal option for those who trade on social networks) or create mini-websites. It is also suitable for payments on content management systems. The service’s advantages include fiscal checks for each sale, proceeds credited on the next day, convenient analytics, management through an online personal account, and operating cards of all banks worldwide.
Expirenza service by mono provides restaurants and cafés with a single QR code for everything: contactless electronic menu, instant invoices and tipping, automated distribution of money for bar, cuisine, and tips to the relevant accounts, reviews and evaluations from the clients. A service with an open API integrates with the r_keeper, iiko, and Poster cashiers. Available to clients of all banks.
Buying tickets to the cinema, train, plane, and bus, as well as purchasing various insurances (health, real estate, tourism) in the Privat24 application.
SmartID signature — an analogue of a token that is always in a telephone and does not require additional configuration — can be created in Private24.
Cat. QR cat. The main character of the Ukrainian fintech and virtual assistant in the monobank application reminds users that banks are created for cats.
What is happening to the Ukrainian banking system today?
The war became the test of strength, and the banking system survived and is working. Ukrainian banks provided clients with credit holidays for several months or the whole period of martial law, restructuring programs, and renewals for war-affected people. Alfa-Bank, later changed its name to Sense Bank, launched a service to change a financial number and obtain a statement of closing an account.
Financial institutions do not cease creating new products. In September 2022, Unex Bank, together with Weld Money, a Ukrainian fintech startup, launched weld card — Ukraine’s first crypto card based on Debit Mastercard®. It can be attached to a cryptocurrency wallet on the Weld Money platform and added to Apple Pay and Google Pay, thus using cryptocurrency to pay for goods and services without conversion into fiat currency. Every transaction is carried out in UAH. I assume that this card will gain popularity, since Ukraine closes the three leaders in the ranking of countries with the most active cryptocurrency users (data from Chainalysis).
A thirst for development is quite understandable: today, high competitiveness is observed in online banking, companies are fighting for clients, looking for outlets to new target audiences, and trying to offer a unique product. It results in high service and interesting user-friendly offers. And most essential — all projects change the approach to banking operations, making them easy and fast and eliminating trips to offices. According to Mastercard, every second cashless payment in Ukraine is a digital payment with NFC or online.
Innovation, speed, and comfort in combination with an interactive component are the alternatives offered by Ukrainian digital banks. They keep up with the times and sometimes are ahead of it, since demanding and a bit spoiled customers require a corresponding banking service.