When most people think of banks, they think of the traditional brick-and-mortar buildings where workers in suits and ties help them process their transactions.
But this characterisation of a bank is fast becoming redundant with the emergence of digital banks that operate exclusively on the internet. In fact, most traditional banks are now becoming increasingly digital with most of them having mobile banking apps and incorporating agency banking to reduce the number of their physical locations.
Still, a digital bank offers some advantages that a commercial bank can’t. Online digital banks don’t have physical branches with staff and other operating expenses, they can in turn pass on these reduced expenses to their customers in higher interest and better efficient services.
Pros of digital banks
- They can offer a higher interest rate on savings because they have lower operating expenses compared to traditional banks.
- Peer-to-peer money transfer on most digital banks is free
- They offer wide range of services including bill payments, savings, money transfer etc.
- Some digital banks offer dollar debit cards with much higher transaction limit than the ones from traditional banks.
Cons of digital banks
- Because of the sophistication of the technology they use, most digital banks are only usable by educated people with expensive devices
- No in-branch physical customer service.
The best online digital banks in Nigeria
In no particular order, here are the most popular online digital banks in Nigeria with the best services;
Kuda bank is fully regulated and licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate as a microfinance fintech. It has been operating since 2017 and so far has over 1.4 million customers.
Some of the unique services Kuda offers include 25 free monthly money transfers, 15% savings interest rate on deposits, overdraft loans for regular users, a 1,000 naira referral bonus and a Kuda bank Visa debit card that can be used at over 3000 ATMs and POS across Nigeria.
Barter by Flutterwave
Barter is a digital wallet built and fully supported by the tech giant, Flutterwave. The mobile application lets its users send and receive funds from anywhere in the world, pay bills, create Naira/dollar virtual cards which can be used to pay for services like Facebook Ads, Wise, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Alibaba, Wave, Shopify etc.
Some of the services offered by Barter include; free peer-to-peer transfers, international money transfers abroad, bills payments and multicurrency virtual cards which gives holders a spending limit of up to $10,000 monthly to spend on Facebook Ads, Wise, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Alibaba, Wave, Shopify etc.
Vbank is a Lagos-based online digital bank with over 250,000 users.
Some of the services offered by Vbank include; zero transaction charges, cardless withdrawal, competitive interest rates on savings, Flexible fixed deposit, Payment of bills and USSD banking.
Vella finance is a one-stop digital bank that offers a wide range of financial services. Vella is relatively new in the fintech market. It is a Nigerian company but fully incorporated in Delaware, United States of America. After gaining traction in Nigeria, plans are already in place for an operation in South Africa as the next stop and then countries like Ghana, Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe will also have access to their services in due time.
Some of the services offered by Vella include; peer-to-peer payments, interest-bearing digital savings accounts, crypto wallet, airtime for cash exchange and multicurrency physical/virtual cards that can be used to pay for Facebook Ads, Wise, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Alibaba, Wave, Shopify etc.
Nomba (formerly Kudi)
Nomba, formerly Kudi, is a digital bank for merchants and business owners. It offers simplified tools on how businesses accept payments, make payments and manage their operations.
Some of the services offered by Nomba include; POS terminals, business tools, interest on savings and business loans.
How to choose the best digital bank
Online only digital banks try to stay competitive by offering some unique services. You can choose the one that best suits your lifestyle based on the services they offer. Kuda bank, for example, does not offer a dollar virtual card, so if you need to make online payments in dollars, your best option might be either Vella finance or Barter by Flutterwave.
Digital banks are a safe and secure way to spend and manage your money, Funds in them are equally insured by the NDIC similar to traditional banks.