Do you love fintech like me? Especially the Ukrainian one, which powers my home country’s banking system. She is still very young, but is making progress that fascinates foreign banks. For example, PrivatBank was the first in the world to develop mini-payment terminals, provide access to internet banking via QR code, introduce online redemption and produce digital wallets for bank cards. Today it offers a unique catalog of digital cases (pure banking fashion).
Many Ukrainians, myself included, have faced the banking systems of various countries over the past seven months. Unlike the Ukrainian, they are more regulated, slower and too conservative. Over the past 10 years, Ukrainians have gotten used to fast and accessible services, technologies and digital environments. We have reason to be proud, so let me tell you about interesting features of Ukrainian online banking.
Review of Ukrainian digital banks
Today in Ukraine there are several digital banks:
Monobank (operating under the Universal Bank banking license);
Bank Vlasny Rakhunok (a digital project by Bank Vostok, Mastercard and Fozzy Group – one of the leading Ukrainian retailers);
O.Bank (belongs to the Ideas Bank);
Neobank (operates under the ConcordBank license and is based on Concord Fintech Solutions, the first open fintech ecosystem in Ukraine);
izibank and Sportbank (TASCOMBANK Mobile Partner Neobanks).
Many services can be called base: municipal payment and mobile top-up without commission, credit limit ($1000–6666.67), low interest rate within the payment period of up to 62 days (0–0.00001%), interest on the balance of a own funds of the client, online currency exchange, bonus programs (“Jar”, “Backpack”, “Nazbiratus”), opening deposits, adding cards from other banks, issuing credit and installment payments, transfers to recipients from a phone book, free service, cashback and Analysis of expenses, regular one-click payments and referral programs (some banks do not offer during the war).
Each application has its features (the most interesting ones above). For example, Bank Vlasny Rahunok allows its customers to top up their accounts with cash and free of charge at the Silpo cash registers and redeem points in the Silpo and Le Silpo supermarkets (two of the largest Ukrainian food supermarkets and deli chains). O.Bank does not charge currency conversion fees, while Neobank allows purchasing cashless currencies under deposit in the app. The sports bank, which positions itself as a financial partner for sports and outdoor enthusiasts, offers 10% monthly cashback on goods and services in the “Sport” category.
The Monoinvest application allows trading in stocks of companies from the S&P500 and ETF fund lists through a free brokerage account (Monobank offers sub-broking services to clients). War bonds can be bought in Ukrhazbank, PUMB and Monobank mobile applications, as well as domestic government bonds in Privat24. Here customers can open an internet card for online purchases (available currencies — UAH, USD, EUR) or add personal discount cards to the app.
Original features of Ukrainian fintech
All functions are taken from the applications of Privat24 and Monobank. I have visited numerous countries and now live in Europe. Nowhere have I seen such a variety of online banking benefits and conveniences as offered by these banks. There are several more reasons to choose them.
The Privat24 application of the PrivatBank, which was nationalized in 2016, offers the most services. It was the first bank in the world to use one-time SMS passwords to access the app. Then it became possible to withdraw cash from PrivatBank ATMs even without a physical card, as well as from cash registers in shops and gas stations. Privat24 for companies enables legal and natural persons to settle accounts with partners and suppliers, process loans and make money transfers, carry out currency transactions and carry out document flow. Privat24 allows you to order cash to be withdrawn from a specific bank branch. Once a year, users can check their credit history for free and check their credit score for $1.66 and activate the StatusControl service for $16.66 to monitor credit history.
Monobank not only embodies comfort and functionality, but also offers customers emotional banking, unlike others. According to Oleh Horohovsky, one of the founders, everything the team does is emotions because Mono creates the product that loves.
Free card issuance and the ability to personally collect them at a place convenient for the client – at the nearest bank branch, issuing office, Nova Poshta (express delivery service) – or to wait for a courier. Nowadays almost every Ukrainian bank offers this service.
Shake to pay. Sounds like the name of the cocktail, but actually everything is much better. Monobank customers launch the app and turn on geolocation, shoooop their phone, and money is transferred to a friend’s account. The GPS-based feature enables money transfers without having to manually enter card details. The technology works when the Monobank application is launched, including searching for bank customers in the vicinity of a user (30-50 meters). It can also be used to pay for services in taxis, bars, cafes and restaurants that have added this feature.
Transfer money in a minute. Let’s be honest – almost in a few seconds.
24 hour life support. For example, the monobank provides nursing services, and specialists communicate in user-friendly messengers (Viber, Messenger, Telegram).
Instant statements and receipts in a personal account, email or messenger (Viber, Messenger, Telegram). Bank statements to the embassy (in Ukrainian and English) about the presence and status of a card or account, the absence of debt, certificates for authorities.
Opening a private business account with one click. It is possible to manage a personal card and a private entrepreneur account in one created accounting web cabinet.
Internet acquiring of monobanks offers the opportunity to accept one-time payment links (an ideal option for those who trade on social networks) or to create mini-sites. It is also suitable for payments on content management systems. The benefits of the service include tax audits for each sale, next-day crediting of proceeds, convenient analytics, management through a personal online account, and the use of cards from all banks worldwide.
mono’s Expirenza service provides restaurants and cafes with a single QR code for everything: contactless e-menu, instant bills and tips, automated cash distribution for bar, kitchen and tips to the appropriate accounts, customer reviews and ratings. A service with an open API can be integrated into the r_keeper, iiko and Poster cash registers. Available to customers of all banks.
Purchase of cinema, train, plane and bus tickets and take out various insurance policies (health, real estate, tourism) in the Privat24 application.
The SmartID signature – an analogue of a token, which is always in a phone 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 were created for cats.
What is happening to the Ukrainian banking system today?
The war became a test of strength and the banking system survived and functioned. Ukrainian banks granted their customers credit holidays for several months or the entire period of martial law, restructuring programs and extensions for war-affected people. Alfa-Bank, which later changed its name to Sense Bank, introduced a service to change a financial number and get a statement about the closure of an account.
Financial institutions never stop developing new products. In September 2022, Unex Bank, together with Weld Money, a Ukrainian fintech startup, launched the Weld Card – Ukraine’s first crypto card based on the Debit Mastercard®. It can be attached to a cryptocurrency wallet on the Weld Money platform and added to Apple Pay and Google Pay, using cryptocurrency to pay for goods and services without converting it to fiat currency. Each transaction is conducted in UAH. I expect this card to gain popularity as Ukraine closes the top three in the ranking of countries with the most active cryptocurrency users (Chainalysis data).
The urge to develop is understandable: Today, online banking is highly competitive, companies are fighting for customers, looking for sales opportunities for new target groups and trying to offer a unique product. This results in a high level of service and interesting, user-friendly offers. Most importantly, all projects are changing the approach to banking, making it easy and fast, and eliminating trips to offices. According to Mastercard, every second cashless payment in Ukraine is a digital payment using NFC or online.
Innovation, speed and convenience combined with an interactive component are the alternatives offered by Ukrainian digital banks. They keep up with the times and are sometimes ahead of them, because demanding and somewhat spoiled customers need appropriate banking services.