In recent years, the use of online banks is becoming more widespread. In Italy, many people are deciding to open a current account with a digital bank, such as Fineco, N26 or Widiba, to get more benefits and save time. But how exactly do online banks work? What are their pros and cons ?
Online banks are credit institutions that offer their services exclusively via the Internet . Most of them do not have physical branches, and therefore customers can operate their current account through the use of a mobile application or a website.
Since online banks have no physical infrastructure, they have much lower overhead costs . This translates into lower costs for the customer.
In fact, unlike traditional banks , online banks offer zero account maintenance fees and, very often, no credit card fees. Also, online banks promote free access to their services: free transfers, ATM and bank card withdrawals.
Some online banks charge the customer a subscription fee to access their services . Online banking offers competitive rates. Online banks have no physical infrastructure and offer better prices than traditional banks.
In addition, the financial services offered by online banks have increased in recent years – now it is possible to take out loans online , invest in the stock market and even take out insurance .
With just a few clicks you can open an online account and carry out all your banking operations quickly and easily. However, the fees are still much lower than those of traditional banks. It only takes about ten minutes to create an account online. The procedure is carried out directly on the bank's website. The required documents, on the other hand, may vary but generally each bank asks for at least one valid identity document and your tax code .
One of the main advantages of online banks compared to traditional ones is their constant attention to customer needs and their offer of increasingly innovative services . For example, many digital banks offer easy-to-use money management and investment tools, such as for automatic savings or for buying ETFs.
Also, managing a checking account online is often much more cost-effective. Indeed, many online banks do not prohibit fees for account opening, maintenance or SEPA transfers, and offer more competitive interest rates than traditional banks.
Another daily benefit is the ability to carry out banking transactions at any time in the branch, without having to worry about the opening or closing hours of the branches. This is especially useful for those who have difficulty getting to the bank during business hours.
However, it is important to point out that online banking also has some critical aspects. First of all, most of them do not offer a personalized assistance service: customers who have problems with the management of their current account generally have to contact telephone or chat assistance.
Furthermore, the lack of physical branches can be a problem for those who need to carry out special banking operations, such as depositing money or applying for loans.
Finally, online banks generally require a certain skill in using the Internet and mobile applications to access their services: those who are not used to using these tools could find it difficult to use all the available services correctly.
In any case, before choosing an online bank it is always important to check its reputation and reliability by consulting reviews and opinions of other customers.
As regards the online banks present in Italy, among the most popular there are certainly Fineco, the first Italian online bank with over 1.6 million customers, Widiba, the digital bank of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena Group, and N26, the German online bank that has won much acclaim thanks to the simplicity of its money management services.
Ultimately, online banks represent a valid alternative to traditional banks, especially for those looking for a more advantageous and secure offer, and are able to use technology effectively and securely. However, it is always important to evaluate the pros and cons of each solution, to make the best choice based on your needs.