Best Digital Banks in Nigeria in 2022: Fees, Usability, Features, and More

Aug 18, 2022
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Low fees, convenience of use and, most of all, a seamless internet-based experience have increasingly allowed online banks to challenge traditional brick-and-mortar banks throughout the world over past several years, and the Nigerian market is no exception. 

If one of your resolutions for 2022 is to streamline your banking portfolio, you might be looking into digital banks to save on money and time, but wondering which one is your best bet to replace your expensive and cumbersome traditional checking account. Our Monito experts have gone through the many players in the market to help you make the best possible choice.

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Note that to open an account with most of these banks, you’ll need to provide an official photo ID and a Nigerian Bank Verification Number (BVN) as part of the application process. To get this BVN, you either need to already have an account with a brick-and-mortar bank in Nigeria, or, if you’re in the diaspora, to apply for one at an enrolment center abroad, for a fee. Some of these banks will allow you to open a tiered account without a BVN or photo ID, with limits on transactions and the accessible features.  

Microfinance Banks and Fintechs

Though they are not as established as brick-and-mortar banks, microfinance banks and fintech companies often provide great services thanks to their more dynamic and tech-oriented teams. They can’t always compete when it comes to the breadth of their offerings, but they will sometimes be the only one to offer a specific feature that might be just what you need. And when it comes to security, they’re also a safe bet, as they’re supervised by the Central Bank of Nigeria. While microfinance institutions keep your money themselves – and are insured up to ₦200,000 through the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) – some digital banks offer their account through a third-party provider, which is generally NDIC insured itself.   

1. Best Basic All-Rounder: Kuda Bank 

A microfinance bank based in Lagos, Kuda brands itself as “the bank of the free”, and it’s hard to argue with that: most of their services are completely free, from their account to their free Visa debit card – as long as you have at least ₦1000 on your account – as well as free ATM withdrawals, free cash deposits, free bill pay, and up to 25 free transfers to other banks a month. Kuda also offers fixed term saving plans with interest up to 15% annual interest, automated save-as-you-spend, extensive budgeting and spending analysis features, and even overdraft loans to frequent users. All this is accessible through their well-designed app or their website, and, if you’re mindful of your data consumption, you can even access your account through their USSD code.

2. Best Features: VBank 

VBank is an app powered by VFD, a well-established Lagos-based microfinance bank. Their free V account includes all the expected features that their competitors offer, including a Verve debit card, access to loans and interest-accruing savings accounts, and advanced analytics and budgeting features, all through their app or USSD code. They also offer more unique perks, like joint accounts, tap to pay and even WhatsApp banking, as well as a community-based referral system called Veelage. 

3. Best for Independents: Rubies

Rubies is a microfinance company that operates an array of services for other financial companies in Nigeria, as well as its own personal and small business banking product. Aside from the usual features like physical and virtual cards, payments, savings account – without interest, however –, USSD code and budgeting features, their account also allows you to work as an “independent banker”, earning a commission on any fee-incurring transaction made by people you’ve referred as well as investing your money directly. Rubies also offers a rather unique monitored junior account to allow your child to learn how to manage their own money. 

4. Best for Business: Sparkle

Though most Nigerian microfinance banks we’ve listed here offer business accounts, Sparkle is one of the institutions most dedicated to that particular segment, offering features like payroll or invoicing management. Their all-digital personal account is nothing to sneeze at, however, with all the usual features and more, including physical and virtual Visa debit cards, savings accounts with interest, budgeting and analytics with an AI assistant, social payments, and even an esusu feature for community savings. You do have to pay ₦1500 for your first physical debit card, but your first digital card is free, and you do get access to a lot of discounts and loyalty rewards by using them at Sparkle’s partners.

5. Best for International Spending: Mintyn Digital Bank

Formerly known as Mint, Mintyn is the all-digital offering of Finex Microfinance Bank, and includes private and corporate bank accounts, interest-accruing savings accounts, and even services like instant loans and mutual funds, all through a tiered system, which allows you to open an account without a BVN. On top of their physical naira Mastercard, they also provide a virtual USD Visa card, which makes them a great choice if you’re spending money on international websites, which sometimes won’t accept naira cards. Their app also allows you to track all your expenses and set limits, but doesn’t include a complete budgeting feature just yet.

6. Eyowo

The last Nigerian microfinance digital bank on our list, Eyowo puts a fun spin on phone-based banking by using your phone number as your account number – you’re always sure to remember it! They consequently put a lot of emphasis on sending and receiving money through the app – including to people who don’t have the app yet – but they also offer the traditional banking features you’d expect, like a debit card and saving features, including fixed-term interest on savings accounts and advanced budgeting controls.

7. Most Versatile: Fundall

Fundall is a fintech company providing a wide array of financial services to private and business customers throughout Nigeria, from its basic bank account to savings accounts and loans. Although it’s not itself a bank, its banking offerings are provided by Providus Bank, a regional bank based in Lagos, which also issues their pre-paid Verve naira card and virtual dollar MasterCard. With its good looking app, Fundall puts particular emphasis on saving and investing, with powerful budgeting and analytics features, an AI financial advisor, and even the opportunity to invest your money and take out life insurance.

8. Easiest: goMoney

GoMoney is a small Nigerian digital bank that puts simplicity front and center. Their main goal is clarity, and as such, their offerings are pretty bare bones: you get an account, a card, and not much else in terms of banking features – though they’ve announced savings accounts as coming soon. But what makes goMoney shine are not its features themselves, but rather its elegant app which makes keeping tabs on your spending extremely easy. GoMoney is also a great choice if you want to open an account without a BVN, thanks to their tiered verification system, which allows you to get a limited account very easily.

Digital-only Account with Traditional Banks

While they might welcome the convenience of digital banking, a lot of people still want the security and peace of mind afforded by a traditional bank. If you are one of them, your best bet might be to go for a digital-only account offered by an established financial institution like these – they are fully regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and your deposits are insured up to ₦500,000 through the NDIC.

9. Best Full Banking Package: ALAT by Wema

ALAT is a digital-only brand operated by Wema Bank, a commercial bank active in all of Nigeria. Touting itself as Nigeria’s first fully digital bank, it offers a complete banking package, with bank account, physical naira debit card, savings account, loans, and one of the best virtual dollar cards in Nigeria. Account opening is free and takes place entirely online, and if you’d rather not use ALAT’s app to save on data once you’re onboarded, you can also access your account though their USSD code.

10. OneBank by Sterling

Much like Wema’s ALAT, OneBank is the online-only brand of Sterling Bank, another Nigerian established commercial bank. Aside from traditional banking fares like checking and savings accounts, a virtual card as well as a free Verve debit card, you also get access to loans and investment accounts thanks to Sterling’s Specta and Doubble services, as well as direct payments for bills and airtime, cardless cash withdrawals and foreign exchange transfers (but don’t forget to check Monito’s comparator first!).

How to Choose the Best Nigerian Digital Bank

Choosing the best Nigerian online-only bank can be a tough task, as most of these companies offer very comparable products when it comes to their basic offerings, they’re distinguished by their specific features, the ergonomy of their app, or their fees. Overall, as long as you don’t mind trusting a microfinance bank, we think that Kuda Bank offers the best complete offerings overall, especially given their basically non-existent fees. Kuda doesn’t offer US dollar cards at the moment, but fortunately for you, we’ve also made a list of all the best USD virtual cards in Nigeria, so that you can get the best of both worlds! On the other hand, if you really want your dollar card to be a part of your bank account, or if you’d rather entrust a more established bank with your money, then ALAT might be the best choice for you, as long as you don’t mind using a slightly less ergonomic app.

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