Opening a bank account in Europe — alternatives to the traditional banking system

and why a Fintech bank account might be right for you

The refreshed article on this matter is here, please follow
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How to Open a Bank Account in Europe as a Non-Resident

Opening a traditional bank account in the European Union, for non-EU residents, can be a difficult challenge. Depending on the origin of the resident, it can range from difficult and expensive, to simply impossible, and the process is only becoming more difficult. This is because regulators have seen an increase in fraud and other illegal activities from non-resident accounts, and they, of course, aim to reduce the occurrence of this.
In order to open a bank account in the European Union, there are stringent requirements that have to be met. Individual banks in the EU have their own requirements for opening accounts, and while all are different, visiting the bank in person is a must (although this has changed temporarily with Covid-19), as is providing many documents demonstrating the business' connection to the country. Furthermore, there are often heavy fees required to establish a bank account in the EU as a non-resident. The bureaucracy, red-tape, and heavy fees associated with opening a traditional bank account in the EU make the venture futile. To summarize, it is either impossible or heavily bureaucratic to open a traditional bank account in the EU as a non-resident. Fintech banking, however, can offer a solution.

What is Fintech banking?

Fintech (financial technology) banking is a new concept, which has arisen from the online revolution, and the subsequent unnecessariness of having a physical bank, with branches on the high street. They differ from traditional banks in that they are more focused on the delivery of financial services, whereas traditional banks focus more on risk management, and providing security. Further, traditional banks are highly regulated, whereas Fintech providers have a much more free-flowing structure. Banks are licensed to accept deposits and to give loans to their customers, whereas Fintech banks do not. As a non-EU resident, it is much easier to open a bank with a Fintech provider, than with a traditional bank, as it can be done online, and there are less stringent requirements to be met to open one.

Pros and Cons of Fintech banking

Fintech (financial technology) banks are different from traditional banks, in that they do not provide many of the benefits that traditional banks give. For example, Fintech banks do not:

  • Give access to overdrafts or loans
  • Give interest to accounts
  • Give you a 'real' bank account — they are simply addresses for electronic money; however, you can still send and receive money from them.
  • Protect and safeguard your money to the same level that banks do. Traditional banks guarantee that your money is protected and safeguarded using the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Fintech banks, however, carry numerous advantages. Crucially, it is very simple and easy to open an account with a Fintech provider, in comparison with a normal bank account. Furthermore, Fintech providers can act as gateways to the EU's common market. With a Fintech business account, you can send and receive payments within the European Union, which can be the only method for a non-EU based business to do so. Further, another key advantage of Fintech providers is that they do not charge outlandish transaction fees or exchange rates for making international payments. Traditional banks can be very inflexible around the need to send international payments, and the waiting times can be long for the transaction.

Choosing the correct Fintech provider

There are many Fintech banking options available for customers to use right now, and it is a rapidly growing and changing industry. Typical bank accounts for business do not vary much in the European Union. Owing to the tightly regulated nature of the market, especially in the wake of the 2008 crash, banks are extremely limited in what they are able to do, and thus there is little difference between banks.

Fintech providers, however, vary greatly, in terms of the commissions for transfers, and the currencies available to be used. The strictness to the applicant also varies, based on both the Fintech provider and also the residence and field of the business. Also, they have their own requirements for opening a business account, including the directors' and shareholders' residence, the company's business model, the country in which the company is incorporated, and whether the company has a physical presence in the country where it is incorporated (rented office).


Thus, picking the correct Fintech bank is essential for businesses to flourish. There are many Fintech providers, and as it is a rapidly developing market, it is certain that more and more providers will begin operations.

At the time of writing, here are some of the best Fintech providers:

TransferWise for Business (Trustpilot rating 4.6)


Pros:

  • 3-day time-period to open an account
  • Free to open an account
  • Free to hold up to 50 currencies, and only a 65p fee to send money
  • $30,000 a month spending limit
  • Integration with Xero or Solo
Cons:

  • $30,000 a month limit on spending can be restrictive
  • Hidden fees — $31 to obtain bank details to send and receive currencies
  • Unavailable for charities outside of the EU, and a few other countries
  • Unavailable for businesses that work with crypto
  • Limited currencies in which a bank can be opened — only in EUR, USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, HUF, RON, SGD
Paysera (Trustpilot rating 4.1)

Pros:

  • 2–3 hours to create a personal account, 3 days to create a business account
  • You can deal with a wide variety of currencies
  • It supports 180 countries
  • Daily debit card limit of €10,000 — no monthly limit
Cons:

  • The fees for transactions are variable, and they are not the cheapest
  • Additional fees for currency exchanges
  • Prior written consent from Paysera is needed to create an account
Bankera (Trustpilot rating 3.9)

Pros:
  • Bankera's main advantage is that it is blockchain compatible. It integrates traditional and cryptocurrencies, with the aim of being a one-stop-shop for all online banking needs
  • €300,000 per month operational limit for outgoing transactions, and no limit for incoming transactions
Cons:

  • €200 fee for the application, which can be non-refundable
  • It can take a week, or longer, to get approval
  • An account can only be opened with Euros, but IBAN's with multi-currency support can be arranged
There are many other Fintech providers, apart from these 3, including Monzo and Revolut. Each FinTech provider has its own specialty, depending on many factors. These factors include:

  • Country of origin
  • Spending limit required
  • Use of cryptocurrencies
  • And more!
This is why it is important to spend time evaluating the correct Fintech provider for your business, and it is where we, at Enty, can help.

Documents needed to open a business bank account

The list of documents varies from one fintech provider to another, but, generally, you will need to provide:

  • Certificate of Incorporation or Extract from your local Register of Commerce (not older than 6 months)
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Company's register of shareholders and directors (not older than 6 months)
  • Financial statements for the last 3 years (if applicable)

How Our Service Helps You Pick the Best Fintech Solution for Your Company Enty's service

As you can see, Fintech banking has a great number of advantages, especially for non-EU residents who wish to make payments inside the European Union. As you can also see, it is crucial to select the correct Fintech provider, based on several criteria. Here at Enty, we have created a free, 2-minute questionnaire to find out which Fintech provider would best suit your business, based on several factors:
Alternatively, you can always contact us via email, Facebook, or arrange a consultation from our website.
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