Digital banking platforms, also known as Authorised Payment Institutions (API) or e-money institutions/issuers, generally don’t consider themselves to be banks, and they promise something different to their traditional competitors.
These platforms all offer an alternative to traditional high street accounts, they are quick to set up and operate entirely from your smartphone where you can access all their digital banking services.
But which one will be right for your small business depends on a number of factors, from your business size to the functionality you require. In this comprehensive guide, we compare the features and pricing of the market leading platforms.
Read on for a full breakdown or compare the best option for you now.
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Digital banking platforms
On this page, you will find:
ANNA is open to any UK resident who is a director of a limited company and non-limited businesses that are structured as a partnership or sole trader.
On the app you’ve got smart invoicing, creating sales and purchase invoices for you. It’ll politely chase outstanding payments that you’re owed and you’ll be notified about VAT, corporation tax and self-assessment tax return deadlines (compliant with Making Tax Digital).
ANNA offers a pay-as-you-use package; or you could pay £14.90 a month; £49.90 a month (both before VAT).
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Revolut is a good shout for businesses who travel and trade overseas. Customers can hold, exchange and transfer in over 150 currencies with the real exchange rate.
You can issue plastic, metal or virtual cards and track your employees spending in real time.
Revolut comes with perks and benefits from partners such as Zipcar for Business, Pact Coffee and Shopify.
In terms of accounts you’ve got:
- Free (£0 a month)
- Grow (£25 a month)
- Scale (£100 a month)
- Enterprise (bespoke – speak to Revolut)
Freelancers can choose from the free account (£0 a month), Professional (£7 a month) and Ultimate (£25 a month).
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The Starling Bank business account is open to you if you’re self-employed or the owner of a limited company or if you’re part of a limited company with multiple owners. You must have been trading for a minimum of 18 months to apply.
There’s no monthly charge on the account. To boost your business’ functionality, you can add on a toolkit for £7 a month. Extra tools include invoices and auto-matching, email integrations and VAT recorded on transactions. You’ve also got the option to add a euro business account for £2 a month or a US dollar business account for £5 a month.
If you want to deposit cash, you can do so at Post Office branches across the country. It’ll set you back 0.7 per cent (£3 minimum) per deposit.
What’s more, you can integrate it with Xero, FreeAgent and Quickbooks.
With Tide, get real-time business forecasts with the ability to predict your balance 30 days ahead. What’s more, receive actionable suggestions to improve cash flow.
You’ve also got free invoice templates and the ability to set up scheduled payments. The package is rounded off with in-app support as well as integration with Xero and QuickBooks.
There are three accounts available through Tide: Free (£0), Plus (£9.99) and Plus Cashback (£49.99)
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Monzo has a business account for sole traders or the directors of a registered limited company by shares (Ltd). Multi-user access is available for limited companies. Just be aware that you need to have a personal account with Monzo before you can apply for a business account.
Accounts aren’t available to the some types of businesses but this may be reviewed in future.
To limit financial crime, you can pay in £5-£300 of cash in one go, and up to £1,000 every six months.
As for features, Monzo integrates with Xero, FreeAgent and QuickBooks. With Monzo Business Pro, new Xero users can get six months of the cloud accounting platform free on the Business Pro account. It also has a Tax Pots feature, where you can set aside a percentage of your earnings to put towards tax every time you’re paid. What’s more, you can opt to be notified every time you get paid.
The pricing is on two tiers: Lite offers up the basics but for additional features like Apple Pay and Google Pay but for Tax Pots you’ll need to go Pro at £5 a month.
Monese gives you unlimited transactions, fast bank transfers and the ability to get cash out at ATMs globally.
Open an account from your smartphone in a few simple steps.
The app is supported in 14 languages and you can have accounts in both GBP and Euro for international banking. Convert currency at competitive rates in multiple currencies including US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Euro and Danish Krone.
To keep your money safe, the app uses biometric unlock and backend encryption.
The Monese business account is £9.95 a month.
Please note at the time of updating that Monese isn’t taking any new business customers. However, you can be notified when they start accepting customers again.
For sole traders and limited companies (with up to two directors), Coconut has the functionality to handle banking, bookkeeping, invoicing and tax.
You can connect current accounts and credit cards from over 25 different banks including Barclays, Lloyds and Starling. Notifications will let you know that a payment has been made or received, automatically categorising it.
Sole traders can an extra help up with tax reports to help them with their self-assessment. Of course, it has Making Tax Digital-compliant software.
See calculations of how much tax you’ll owe and tips on what expenses you can claim, maximising your tax savings.
The flat monthly fee is £7.50 – and that includes VAT.
Mettle is part of NatWest but is an independent arm. This means that you can’t ring NatWest and expect them to assist with your Mettle account.
You’ll be eligible if you’re a sole trader or a limited company with up to two owners, though you must have a balance of less than £100k (or £50k for sole traders) to apply.
One of the main highlights is that you can create and send invoices directly from your smartphone, complete with company logo. Like Coconut, notifications will let you know when you’ve been paid. However, you’ll need to match the payment to the outstanding invoice yourself.
Again, it goes half-way there in terms of chasing overdue invoices. It’ll remind you that an invoice is overdue, but you’ll have to send the client a follow-up yourself.
Transactions-wise, you can manage recurring payments in-app, add receipts to transactions and export your expense data.
Other than that, you can sync your account with FreeAgent, Xero or QuickBooks but you can also export to CSV which is compatible with other accounting software. FreeAgent is free, saving you £150 a year.
A key consideration you must make is that the app isn’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). However, the account is covered under the FCA safeguarding requirements and the corresponding regulations. The purpose of safeguarding is to protect and return customer money if the company fails.
Mettle is free to use and free to join.
Cashplus says that it takes as little as four minutes to apply and only seconds to open an account.
It’s a good account if you already have a few members of staff on your payroll – add up to 20 additional business expense cards for your employees to use. Manage employee expense cards and travel cards centrally through an online system.
Get a business cash advance to help with cash flow and integrate it with online accounting software.
Compare Cashplus business banking with NerdWallet
Countingup is a relatively new player in the mobile banking market.
Its business offering comes with real-time profit and loss reports, tax estimates and customised invoices
This is best if your business is UK-based as you can’t make or receive international payments with this account. Countingup hopes to include this feature in the future.
All accounting features appear in all of the accounts; these include receipt capture and automatically categorised transactions.
It costs £3 for those with a monthly deposit of £0-£750; £9 a month for those with a monthly deposit of £750-£7,500; or £18 a month for unlimited monthly deposits.
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The payment processing firm, SumUp, has recently launched a business account offering. The account, geared at freelancers, sole traders and small businesses, is free but withdrawal fees apply.
You can link your MasterCard with Apple Pay and Google Pay to make faster payments. With a SumUp card reader, you can also make a sale and access the money on the next working day, even on bank holidays and weekends.
SumUp also has a built-in invoicing tool so you can send customised invoices from your phone or your computer. Share payment links with customers through text, WhatsApp, Facebook or another platform.
The account from CardOneMoney (formerly CardOneBanking) is aimed at sole traders, limited companies or partnerships who have a turnover of up to £2m.
Add up to four additional prepaid corporate MasterCards which will link to your business account to use within your business. You can also export statements to a cloud accounting network such as Xero, Sage and FreeAgent. You can also make domestic and international payments in a range of currencies.
Pay cash into your account at the Post Office and cheques through Barclays Bank.
Just be aware that this one isn’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme either.
It’s £12.50 a month with a £55 application fee.
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Of course, the right bank account will depend on the needs of your small business. Factor in how many employees you have, your turnover and what features will support you in the day-to-day running of the firm. Whether you choose one as your primary account or a secondary account, digital banking platforms offer up a quick and convenient alternative to contend with your high street bank.
Related: Challenger and digital banks secure new funds to help small businesses