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Covid-19 hits challenger banks as app downloads slide

Covid-19 hits challenger banks as app downloads slide

Leading challenger banks in the UK have suffered a significant drop in the number of new app downloads in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, according to data compiled by Finbold.

The figures indicate that on average, the challenger banks’ collective app downloads slipped by 23.38% by the end of March 2020 compared to February this year.

Leading the pack is Monzo, where app downloads declined by -36.12%. Last month the bank only registered 148,608 downloads, a drop from February’s 232,639. During a similar period last year, the bank was on a growth trajectory in terms of app downloads recording a percentage increase of 27.68% between February (123,317) and March (157,463) 2019.

Revolut also saw a slump of -18.16% in downloads. In March 2020, the platform had 95,461 downloads, compared to 116,648 registered a month earlier. Just like Monzo, Revolut was on a growth path during a similar period last year. In March 2019, the neobank attracted 73,016 downloads, representing a growth of 13.19% from 64,504 new downloads in February last year.

Both Revolut and Monzo were forced to refute rumours circulating on social media in March that they were in danger of imminent financial collapse, as attention focused on the financial health of loss-making fintech firms. Both banks are well capitalised having recently raised monster funding rounds.

Speculation about the staying power of the challenger bank sector followed a report by Rosenblatt Securities which forecast that the Covid-19 effect would have a devastating impact on fintech valuations. The analyst note estimated that a protracted downturn could wipe $76 billion of Unicorn market value and spur a wave of M&A activity in the sector. Marketplace lenders, digital wealth management firms and challenger banks would all be in the firing lines the report stated.

Revolut and Monzo are not the only banks feeling the pain. Starling Bank is also down by -20.03%, having registered 80,523 downloads in March 2020. A month earlier the bank’s downloads stood at 100,704. Generally, the bank was emulating peers by witnessing an increase in the number of users a year earlier. Between February and March last year, the bank’s new downloads grew by 11.36%.

Comments: (3)

Nick Ogden
Nick Ogden - RTGS.global - London 29 April, 2020, 10:372 likes 2 likes

The challenger Banks and Fintech community are currently largely excluded from the economic response initiatives launched by HM Treasury. This is a massive mistake given the shift to alternative lending and the promotion of a competitive Financial Services marketplace, all under the current Government. It is red tape and not red lines that are preventing the industry from joining and supporting the essential economic battle that the country faces, as the medical challenges subside. It is also a sad fact that the economic death rate of businesses and the consequent unemployment is likely to far exceed the tragic human cost we are now facing from Covid-19.   


Tony Fajimolu
Tony Fajimolu - Redwood Associates - London 30 April, 2020, 04:091 like 1 like

Nick, you are 100% correct. Contrast this with what the Italian govt is doing. Ebury FX/payments start up post GFC (HQ Ldn) has been named as a designated payments distributor for SME aid payments. 


Nicolas Saubié
Nicolas Saubié - NEOSURF CARDS - Paris 18 May, 2020, 09:20Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Nick, I disagree. Reckless financing of any Fintech, preferably with a name you cannot pronounce, had to stop one day. We are back at reasonnable financing, nothing to be sad about.