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Digital-First Neobanks

HSBC Overhauls the First Direct Platform to Reach Underserved Customers

— November 20, 2019 — Tech
The rise of "neobanks" -- a direct bank system that is strictly digital and reaches customers on mobile apps and computer platforms only -- has been prominent in the UK over the past several years, and banking institute HSBC has taken notes with the overhaul of its digital-first neobank -- First Direct. The bank will work exclusively with fintechs to retool its platform in order to compete with emerging competitors.

The benefits of First Direct's digital-first neobank are extensive -- they are more accessible to a larger percentage of the population for a number of reasons. Firstly, as long as the consumer has access to a mobile phone -- which most residents of both rural and remote regions do -- they can complete all their banking needs to on the in-app marketplace. Secondly, the digital bank allows a customer with limited or no credit history to open an account while offering services for them to improve their credit. This means that "unbanked" individuals are not barred from opening up an account.

As the banking landscape continues to evolve to include digital technologies, we can expect to see more digital-first platforms that could greatly benefit underserved populations who live in remote or rural communities.