The growth of challenger banks is reaching a new level. The closure of bank branches during the current pandemic is accelerating the adoption of digital banking by consumers and businesses. Tearsheet’s inaugural Challengers Conference and Challengers Awards program celebrate the innovation and creativity happening in the space, as new banking products, services, and channels continue to launch and attract a new audience.
This year’s winners of the Challenger Awards represent some of the best of the digital banking industry.
Challenger Consumer Bank of the Year: Current
Current works to improve financial outcomes for people who have been overlooked by the traditional banking industry. The challenger bank’s proprietary Current Core technology allows it to provide premium banking services for everyone. With no-overdraft-fee accounts and a novel rewards program for debit card holders, Current serves 130 million Americans who live paycheck to paycheck.
Challenger Commercial Bank of the Year: Intuit’s QuickBooks Cash
Intuit launched its business bank account, QuickBooks Cash, in July. It’s intended to be more than just a bank account — it’s really focused on helping SMBs track and manage their cashflows via money management and movement. “It’s the connective tissue between all our QuickBooks products,” said Rob Daniel, head of product for QuickBooks Cash, at this week’s Challengers Conference.
Partner Bank of the Year: MetaBank
MetaBank powers some of the leading challenger banking and payment concepts. Notably, MoneyLion turned to Meta for its new RoarMoney banking product. RoarMoney provides MoneyLion’s millions of members a debit account powered by Meta. Its features include early paycheck delivery, contactless payments technology, seamless integration with MoneyLion’s zero-percent interest cash advances, credit building loans and investing tools.
Best Banking Service Partner: MANTL
MANTL helps level the technological playing field for community banks with an account opening solution that integrates into core banking software. During the pandemic, the company helped community banks across the US drive more deposits via their digital channels, as well as service their SMB customers by accepting digital applications for participation in the Paycheck Protection Program.
Most Innovative Bank: Varo
Varo is the first fintech company to receive a national banking charter in the U.S. So, all eyes are on the five year old challenger bank. The company’s no-overdraft-fee account has saved Americans over $100 million. So far in 2020, account growth is up 200% year over year and spend is up 450% year over year. Since opening in 2017, Varo has opened over 2 million customer accounts. To date, Varo has raised over $419 million in private fundraising, and it expects break-even profitability in 2021. Expect to see a rebranding from the company in the next couple of quarters as it builds out its technology stack with its new banking license.
Best New Product: Galileo Instant
The banking as a service firm launched Galileo Instant this summer in an effort to remove the complexity and time it takes to launch a corporate card. Gig-economy, marketplace, ecommerce, fintech and other businesses can create debit cards through a single point of contact. Galileo Instant bakes in every requirement for card issuing, including the payment network, sponsor bank, card design, manufacture and fulfillment, and other third-party support. Start to finish, businesses can launch their debit card programs in as few as 14 days.
Best Banking App: Bank HaPoalim’s Bit
Israel’s Bank HaPoalim launched its Bit app three years ago using Venmo for inspiration. The app is changing the way consumers store and move money around. Since launching, Bit has been consistently number one in market share and growth. The company’s NPS score ranks higher than PayPal’s, as it leads competition in active users, downloads and transactions.
Best Banking Card Product: Stash’s Stock Back Card
The challenger bank’s debit card incorporates its Stock Back rewards program. Through everyday spending, Stash users receive fractional shares in the companies they do business with, passively building a portfolio without changing their behavior. To date, the company has issued 15 million Stock Back rewards.
Best Digital Campaign: PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet Campaign
With Deutsch, PNC Bank ran a digital heavy, full-funnel campaign showcasing the power of PNC’s Virtual Wallet Checking Account. The campaign delivered exponential results relative to past campaigns by demonstrating how far other technologies have come, while the banking industry hasn’t kept up (except for Virtual Wallet by PNC). With features like Danger Days to warn users when they may be close to an overdraft, to Money Bar, which helps users easily see what they have free to spend, Virtual Wallet is a dynamic, fresh approach to managing money.
Best SMB Digital Banking Vision & Strategy: Arival Bank
Tearsheet doesn’t frequently cover early stage fintech and it doesn’t generally give awards to early stage firms. But for this year’s Best SMB Digital Banking Vision and Strategy Award, sponsored by Strands, our industry judges really liked Arival Bank. Arival is an internal venture spun out of Life.SREDA, a venture capital fund that invested in digital banking pioneers. The company serves SMBs and startups globally that don’t fit the model of traditional banks. Arival is built as a platform to easily integrate other fintech offerings while supporting back office compliance.