Compare digital banking providers in Canada

Learn how digital banking could benefit you and how you can get started with one today.

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EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account logo

Interest rate of 1.7%

  • Zero everyday banking fees
  • Free transactions
  • No minimum account balance
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Like many other parts of our lives, banking has become increasingly digital. Canada has a number of new digital banking providers and challenger banks, promising to revolutionize the financial industry through the use of world-class technology and digital services. But are they worth the hype? Learn about some of the new banks on the block and what makes them different.

What is digital banking?

Like the name suggests, a digital banking provider operates digitally, usually from an app or website, rather than from a physical branch or office. Digital banking is a fairly loose, umbrella term that includes online banking, mobile banking, budgeting apps, and challenger banks (which we’ll explain below).

See the breakdown on how Canadians are adopting digital banking

Compare digital banking products in Canada

Name Product Interest Rate Promotional Interest Rate Min. Bal / Min. Deposit Account Fee
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
1.70%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Enjoy zero everyday banking fees, free transactions and no minimum balance with a Savings Plus Account from EQ Bank.
Tangerine Savings Account
0.15%
2.5%
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 2.50% interest for 5 months (up to a maximum of $1,000,000) as a new Tangerine client when you open your first savings or chequing account and use the promo code EARNMORE. Plus, get up to a $200 bonus when payroll requirements are met. Apply by October 14, 2020.
Wealthsimple Cash Account
0.90%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 0.90% on any money you invest and withdraw your funds at any time.
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Other digital banking providers in Canada

There are a number of digital banking and online banking providers already operating in Canada or about to launch. Many are not actual banks – instead, they are private financial companies partnered with banks, credit unions and other financial institutions to bring similar products and services.

  • Impak Finance. Based in Quebec, this digital banking provider’s focus is on ethical banking and social responsibility.
  • Quest Bank. Based in Toronto, Quest Bank is the banking division of online brokerage Questrade. Their application for a banking license is currently being reviewed (as of November 2019).
  • NorthOne Business Banking. This challenger bank is based in the US but is headquartered in Toronto. Its focus is small businesses and startups.
  • motusbank. Newly opened in 2019, this Ontario-based bank is the digital banking arm of Meridian Credit Union. It is a full service bank. Read our review of motusbank’s savings accounts here.
  • ATB Brightside. This is an Alberta-based, mobile-first digital banking provider that was setup by ATB Financial.
  • Mogo. Based in Vancouver, Mogo offers a prepaid Visa card along with a digital banking account and other traditional financial products.
  • Koho. Full-service digital banking provider based in Toronto. it also offers a prepaid VISA card with its individual and joint banking accounts. Read our review of Koho Save here.
  • Oaken Financial. This digital bank that was launched in 2013 as the direct “deposits” arm of Home Bank. Read our review here.
  • Outlook Financial. This is digital bank was launched in 2000 as a division of the Assiniboine Credit Union, one of the most respected financial co-operatives in Canada. Read our review here.
  • Oaken Financial. This digital bank that was launched in 2013 as the direct “deposits” arm of Home Bank. Read our review here.
  • AcceleRate Financial. This digital bank that was launched in 2010 as a division of the Crosstown Civic Credit Union, which is a well-established financial institution in Manitoba. Read our review here.
  • Achieva Financial. This is one of the oldest digital banking providers in the country (launched in 1998). It was opened as a division of the Cambrian Credit Union, based out of Manitoba. Read our review here.
  • Simplii Financial. This is a popular digital banking app in Canada that has over two million clients. It was launched in 2017 to act as the digital banking arm of CIBC. Read our review here.
  • Implicity Financial. This is a digital banking provider that was created by Entegra Credit Union to meet the digital banking needs of its customers. Read our review here.
  • Alterna Bank. This is a digital banking provider Alterna Bank was launched in 2000 to act as the digital banking arm of Alterna Savings. Read our review here.
  • Motive Financial. This is a reputable digital bank that was launched by Canadian Western Bank. Read our review here.
  • Hubert Financial. This is a well-known digital bank that was launched by Sunova Credit Union (which is one of the top 100 credit unions in Canada). Read our review here.

What’s the difference between an online bank and a challenger bank?

Online banks, like Tangerine or EQ Bank, are digital banks that usually don’t have physical branches and customers use mobile banking apps to control their money. These online-only banks are built on existing infrastructure and closely mimic traditional banks.

A challenger bank, like Revolut or N26, is a completely digital banking provider that doesn’t use any existing legacy systems to operate. Unlike regular online banks, challenger banks don’t use any physical infrastructure or digital operating systems that are already being used by existing financial institutions. The technology used by these fully digital banking providers is developed from scratch. They get their name from their roles as challengers to traditional banks, like the big 5 Canadian banks.

Learn more about challenger banks here

Must read: A bank offering Apple Pay isn’t necessarily a digital banking provider.

Many banks offer contactless payments via digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, but offering a digital feature doesn’t make them digital banking providers.

Similarly, if a bank offers a top-notch mobile banking app, internet banking services, cardless cash facilities and digital savings tools, this doesn’t automatically mean it’s a challenger bank either. Remember, a 100% digital challenger bank is one that doesn’t use any existing banking systems or infrastructure.

Compare digital wallets here

What is app-based banking?

App-based banking is any sort of financial institution or tool that you control primarily through an app. There are several advantages to app-based banking:

  • Banking access in your pocket
  • Many companies offer 24/7 access to banking support
  • Instant spending notifications
  • Many banking apps offer ways to automatically save money

Things to know about app-based online banking

Using your phone as your main point of contact with your bank can save you time and give you more control over your finances, but there are a few things to be aware of.

Different types of app-based banking

App-based banking encompasses a lot of different financial products, including:

  • Traditional bank apps. App-based online banking doesn’t only apply to challenger banks, it has also become increasingly possible to bank on your smartphone with traditional banks like the big 5. Check out the top 5 banking apps in Canada here.
  • Apps that help you save. One of the most common reasons for people heading away from traditional banks and towards app-based online banking is how easy app-based banking makes it for people to track, save and manage your money at a glance. Budgeting apps like Emma and Mint are examples.
  • Prepaid card apps. Some companies, like KOHO and Stack, let you control a prepaid debit card from an app so you can track your transactions and see exactly how much money you have left.
  • Investment apps. Some apps help you save and let you invest in stocks from your phone so that you have more control over your finances, like Moka and Wealthsimple.

Compare apps offering rewards

Name Product Reward Fees Participating Brands Min. to Cash Out
Ampli
1-10% cash back, or a set $ amount
$0
50+
$15
Link your debit and credit cards to the Ampli app and earn cash back at 50+ big retailers across Canada. Enter promo code AMPLI5 to receive a $5.00 cash back bonus on signup.
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Is digital banking safe?

Digital banking providers need to have the same banking licenses and approvals as existing Canadian banks before they’re able to offer products and services to consumers. These new banks will be regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) in the same way that existing banks are regulated.

Your deposit of up to $100,000 with an Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)-insured bank is protected by the Canadian government. This means if something were to happen to the bank, your money (up to this amount) would be safe. Note that some of the digital banks mentioned in this guide are not yet considered banks and haven’t yet been licensed or CDIC-insured.

How to get started with digital banking

If you’re interested in digital banking, simply visit their website and sign up. If you want to join one of the new digital bank providers that have yet to open in Canada, you can join their waitlist by visiting their website. When they launch products, those on the waitlist will be the first to know and the first to receive access to these new products.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

1.70 % APR

rate

  • Zero everyday banking fees
  • Free transactions
  • No minimum account balance

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

With no everyday banking fees and free transactions, open an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account and get an interest rate of 1.70%.

  • Account fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 1.70%
  • Min. deposit to open account: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited & free
Go to site
Promoted

Bottom line

Digital banking providers are becoming more and more popular – and for good reason. They often cater to specific niches and groups and they’re known for offering innovative apps. But before you ditch your current bank, take the time to read through all of the fine print to make sure the bank you’re interested in is as good as it sounds then compare digital banking providers to find the right one for you.

Frequently asked questions

More on digital banking

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  • WHO recommends using contactless payments In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it's important to be careful what you touch, including money, according to WHO.
  • A-Z list of chequing account reviews Check out this alphabetical list of Finder's reviews of Canada's big banks, apps, and challenger banks that offer chequing account products.
  • What is interest? Your guide to learning APR vs. APY Compare your options and learn how to find the most competitive interest rates.
  • Compare digital wallets Learn how they work, where they work and what devices they work on. Plus, compare the top digital wallets currently on the market.
  • Revolut vs. N26 We take a closer look at two of the major "challenger banks". Is Revolut or N26 the better bet?
  • Is Revolut available in Canada? Is Revolut's app-only bank the solution for you? We talk about the account, Revolut app. Read our review to get the low down on another challenger bank.
  • Mint app review Mint helps you keep track of your bills, budget and balances — learn how it works and see if it's a good choice for a personal financial tool.

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