Close Button Close Button

Enter the arena

Would you like to get a reminder email for the next Battle of the US Challengers episode? Subscribe and be the first to know who the winner is.

Battle of the Challenger Banks: Account Opening & e-KYC

Welcome to our very first Battle of the Challengers!


In this post we are going to be covering one of the most buzz-worthy topics in the Fintech world: Online Account Opening.

All data, analysis and flowcharts presented in this post are taken from FinTech Insights.

Before COVID-19, a lot of Banks had expressed their interest in having this major Functionality included in their Digital Banking. Post or amidst this pandemic, it has become a necessity and an essential part of their product roadmap.


But where should one look for inspiration?

Well Challenger Banks have tackled this feature early on. It is actually one of their primary concerns, due to their lack of physical presence

As said in our introductory post, we have collected a pool of prime examples when it comes to Challengers.

To find out how user-friendly each of our contestants’ account opening and e-KYC are, we ran them through our market intelligence platform FinTech Insights and scored them using our Perfect 1000 system.

Here’s what each challenger bank’s process looks like and a rundown of where it excels and where it could do better.



  • Personal Information
  • Mobile phone number - verified by SMS OTP
  • Choose account currency between Euro, GBP and Leu (for GBP and Leu appropriate residency required)
  • Location Information

∗Note: Monese uses geolocation to pinpoint your address. This is quicker and easier than typing it yourself and makes mistakes less likely

  • ID verification via photos (Onfido) ​

∗Note: One of the most common and important steps in the Online Account Opening process. Monese chooses to make the users take photos of their ID documents, which is easy enough but can become a very frustrating step if not done efficiently. We will elaborate why in N26. This also means there is some waiting involved, in which the system processes and parses these documents. For Monese it was fairly quick.

  • Video selfie verification - (Onfido)

∗Note: This confirms that the user is actually the person whose ID documents they’ve uploaded. Users record a short video in which they perform a number of head gestures and speak a phrase. Monese have implemented this feature natively, but processing does take time and is a friction point

  • Choose your plan
  • Virtual or Debit Card?

∗Note: On the plus side, the option to use a virtual card means you can start using your account straight away, without having to wait for a card to arrive in the mail. The downside is that the user will still be in the process of opening the account here. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it does add a step that isn’t strictly necessary at this stage.


  • Personal Information
  • Email Verification

∗Note: This is a major friction point, because the user has to leave the Monzo app and take several steps — open their email app, wait for the verification email to arrive, and click on that to verify. And that’s before they’ve even started opening the account

  • Location Information

∗Note: In an era where typing a lot of words can be a turn-off, the least we can expect is smart and automatic solutions for autocompleting information.

  • Mobile phone number - verified by SMS OTP
  • ID Verification via photos - (Onfido)
  • Video selfie verification - (Onfido)
  • Tax residency information

∗Note: This is a major friction point, because users normally won’t have this information handy and are likely to get discouraged. KYC is a legal requirement, but that doesn’t mean the process has to be complicated. On the bright side, this step means that, once KYC is done, it’s done for good and the user won’t get pestered with notifications to upload their tax information.

  • Delivery address confirmation.

∗Note: One question...again? Why make the user provide his address information just to reconfirm it a few minutes after?

  • Card Configuration

∗Note: So some Banks, most commonly Challengers, choose to involve part of the Debit Card management in the Online Account Opening process. Monzo as well.

Pros: All in one approach.

Cons: You are asking your user to choose a PIN of his Debit Card while not having opened his account yet. Why add more information to the user and make for a more complex process? There is a time and a place for that, and it is called Card Management.

bunq-logo-300x216 (1)

  • Download bunq app. Instantly have a bunq account.

∗Note: You don’t even have to sign up. You can play around with the interface and explore features without having to commit to opening a full bank account. KYC also varies depending on which product you want, which means it’s not a cumbersome, one-size-fits-all approach Innovation at its finest!

  • Choose your plan
  • Personal Information
  • Personalize account

∗Note: Small details like these make Banking fun.

  • ID verification via photos (Onfido) ​
  • Video selfie verification - (Onfido)


  • Personal Information
  • Mobile phone number - verified by SMS OTP
  • Location Information

*Note: N26 has implemented a very handy dainty search, that finds your address in seconds, without making you type the entire thing. Neat.

  • Citizenship Information
  • Tax residency information

∗Note: The entire process of providing the tax information cost 8 steps for the user.

  • Terms & Conditions - The endless "continue"

∗Note: The entire process, from start to finish requires on average about 5 tappings on a button from the user, if he agrees on both the required and optional terms and conditions.

  • Email Verification - Log in the app again
  • Choose your plan
  • Reverify phone number
  • ID verification via photos (Onfido) ​
  • Take a Selfie - (Onfido)
  • Document Processing - this takes a while

Whew. We got tired just typing that.


  • Mobile phone number - verified by SMS OTP
  • Set your passcode
  • Personal Information
  • Location Information
  • Fund Account
  • ID verification via photos (Onfido) ​
  • Take a Selfie (Onfido)
  • Document Processing - this takes a while
  • Virtual or Debit Card?


  • Mobile phone number - verified by SMS OTP
  • Set your passcode
  • Personal Information
  • Location Information
  • ID verification via photos (Onfido) ​
  • Video selfie verification - (Onfido)
  • Set your password
  • Monthly Income - Source

∗Note: This helps Starling personalize your account, and it's optional. Users could add this information later if they wish.

  • Set your Card's PIN
  • Order Debit Card

And the winner is...

So who has the smoothest account-opening and e-KYC process?

And whose requires the most work?

According to FinTech Insights, with a score of 139 on our Perfect 1000 system, the winner is bunq.

This is the final ranking:

UX ranking of UK Challenger banks for Online Account Opening

Best Online Account opening process goes to….bunq!

Leonardo Dicaprio  toasting and congratulating

It is so fast to create a bunq account. And it is also very fast to become their client. bunq requires very few steps, the absolute most important ones, and allows for a very seamless and one way process. bunq is bound to be one of the most innovative players in the Market, and always strives to make their digital bank as user friendly, resolving problems and listening very closely to their customer feedback.

They also have a very fun Twitter & Youtube account, where they update their users of any new features.

Most importantly they make the planet greener, so GO bunq!

N26 scored -1724 and came in last. Oof!

Unfortunately, where there is a first place, there is a last. In this case the last place is awarded to N26. The process is long, tiring, and we find that the user can get discouraged and leave in many steps along the way. There are so many steps, and so much information that the user has to interact with. So far, N26 requires the most steps in the Online Account Opening process (141 to be exact).

You can view and examine for yourself all the required steps for bunq and N26 respectively below.

bunq Account Opening & KYC


N26 Account Opening & KYC


The first battle’s over, but there’s more to go

Round 1 may have gone to bunq, but that doesn’t mean they’ll win — or do well — next time. Anything could still happen.

Who will win Round 2?

Read more at the other batlles below to find out.

In the meantime, why not check how user-friendly your account opening and e-KYC process is? 

Head to FinTech Insights and discover how to improve your KYC to make customers fall in love with your digital banking.

More battles:

Here’s the US edition

The Author

Erenia N. Kontolatou
Erenia holds the position of VP of Business Development at Scientia, and is in charge of partnerships and international expansion. With a vast fintech knowledge and an addiction to data analysis, she is driving Scientia to success while making partnerships that bring value.

about Scientia

Learn more

FinTech Insights