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Digital Banking State of the Market

As this report goes to press one of the largest banks in the world and the largest bank in America, JP Morgan Chase, was readying to follow in the path of a number of once scrappy start-ups that didn’t exist half a decade ago by launching a digital-only consumer (neo?) bank in the UK.

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The arrival of Chase on the scene will mean the likes of Monzo, Starling, and Revolut have some seriously well-funded competition. The bank already has a legion of potential customers thanks to JP Morgan’s acquisition of digital wealth manager Nutmeg earlier this year and won’t face the same hurdles of raising venture capital each year just to keep the lights on.

In addition, Chase arrives at a time of heightened consumer demand for digital banking services. All in all, the launch heralds something of an acid test for the digital banking trend.

There is no denying that its start-up rivals have proved the model, not least by poaching millions of customers from high street incumbents by offering a profoundly better customer experience, underscored by consistently high approval ratings from customers and strong growth in users.

Also, where things really count at the balance sheet level, sustainable revenue generation appears to be moving in the right direction. Valuations in the sector have also been pushing up steadily with Revolut now the UK’s most valuable start-up with its latest round of funding implying an incredible £24bn, not far off the nearly 300-year old Barclays Bank’s £30bn market capitalization.

The lines are increasingly blurry though as to what a bank actually is. With the likes of Klarna and Wise now looking increasingly keen to offer similar services, the next year of competition looks set to have never been fiercer in the history of banking.