Following the launch of N26 last year in Switzerland and my initial experience with Revolut, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the two Finetech companies. I will show you where the strengths and weaknesses are and how you can make good use of these two banking alternatives.
The German direct bank N26, based in Berlin, specializes in account management via app. If the mobile phone no longer has a battery or is not available, a conventional login via browser is also possible. The free offer includes a euro bank account and a Mastercard debit card, with which cash can be withdrawn 5x per month Europe-wide free of charge. In addition, the N26 Mastercard can be easily added to the Apple Pay Wallet and Google Pay. Payments are now even smarter. All your transactions are automatically categorized in the clearly arranged app. So you always have an immediate overview of what you are spending your money on. Another practical function are the sub-accounts, so-called spaces. With these you can save for larger purchases or simply build up reserves for the annual tax bill. You can create the sub-accounts as you wish and delete them later.
N26 is often criticised for poorly accessible customer support and insufficient protection against money laundering.
So far, the N26 service in Switzerland has mainly been aimed at cross-border commuters and Swiss citizens who travel abroad a lot. If you are looking for an account management service in Swiss francs and travel abroad little, N26 is unfortunately not yet for you. For security purposes, N26 holds a European full banking licence, so deposits up to EUR 100,000 are protected by the national deposit guarantee scheme within the framework of the EU directives. Accounts are opened digitally and take only a few minutes.
Here you can open your free N26 Euro account.
The London-based digital banking alternative Revolut was founded in 2014 by an ex-banker and two software developers. Revolut fights the classic banks, their credit cards and bad exchange rates. Every free account with a Swiss IBAN also includes a free prepaid card. The deposit is made by bank transfer, Google Pay, Apple Pay, debit or credit card. Additionally, up to 5 virtual cards can be created. Especially for the use on the Internet the virtual cards are great. In case of doubt they are blocked in no time and independent of the real card. Where and how the card can be used, you can determine yourself in the app and change it at any time. Features include location-based security, magnetic stripe payments, contactless payments, cash withdrawals and online transactions. Each feature can be enabled or disabled individually. Access to the app is via PIN or fingerprint.
With Revolut you profit from the best possible exchange rates. When exchanging currencies, the interbank rate is used, which is the rate the banks use for trading among themselves. If you pay abroad in foreign currency, the best possible exchange rate to the franc is always used, the rate is calculated almost to the second. If the franc is just once again very strong, you can create a cushion for the next holidays, quickly create an account in foreign currency and exchange immediately at the favorable rate. You can exchange up to 6'000 Euro per month at no cost. For everything above that, you pay a small surcharge, which is still much cheaper than at conventional banks.
You will be informed immediately about every transaction via push averaging and all expenses will be categorized clearly and automatically in the app. You can quickly and easily add notes and photos of receipts to each transaction. Money of joy can be transferred in real time. Private customers can manage their account exclusively via the app, business customers also have access to the web interface and a programmable API.
Revolut is criticized in the media for poor working conditions and questionable hiring criteria.
Revolut has a Lithuanian banking licence, so there is no legal deposit insurance as with N26, so not too large amounts should be parked in the account. Only a few minutes pass between registration in the app and opening the account. The setup is done directly via your own mobile phone. However, a few days will pass before the card arrives at home, the virtual card can be used immediately. If you need the plastic card quickly, you can also choose express delivery for an extra charge. Personally I am enthusiastic about Revolut and can recommend it especially when using it abroad and for foreign currencies.
Here you get your free Revolut Mastercard. With this referral link you get 10 Swiss francs starting credit for free after the 3rd transaction with Revolut.
The two providers are not yet a complete alternative to conventional banks, but they are well on the way to achieving this. N26 is already suitable as a free euro account, but if the option of opening a Swiss franc account is added now, it will become interesting for many Swiss people. As a credit card, Revolut is currently unbeatable for use abroad. Here I still lack the connection to a regular current account and the legal deposit insurance.