Five challenger banks supporting customers during COVID-19

By Evelyn Howat
We take a closer look at five challenger banks using innovative technology and other methods to support customers impacted by Coronavirus As the global...

We take a closer look at five challenger banks using innovative technology and other methods to support customers impacted by Coronavirus

As the global Coronavirus pandemic continues, companies and individuals alike are suffering financial hardships. Here, FinTech Magazine explores five challenger banks that are rising to the challenge and throwing customers a lifeline, using research conducted by Sergey Balasanyan, Co-Founder of Longevity Bank.

Starling Bank

Fintech giant, Starling, announced measures will be taken to help support individuals with a personal bank account, including offering a “overdraft interest holiday”. In-app chat and online banking is available 24/7, and various resources for support surrounding savings accounts, fraud and even tips for working from home effectively can be found on its website.

In addition, Starling announced on 8 April its 'connected cards' scheme for those with personal accounts at the bank. This allows customers to order a second card - the Connected Card - that is connected to their account but which can be used by friends, neighbours and community volunteers to shop for them during self-isolation. 

Other initiatives include allowing cheque processing via mobiles - the first digital-only bank to allow this - and participating as a lender in the government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). 

Support and advice is also openly available to those with business accounts - small businesses and the self-employed being likely to suffer the most as a result of decreased footfall in brick-and-mortar stores, and the associated cyber risks of moving business online. Advice and resources on what the UK Government is offering is also openly available.

Atom Bank

This UK-based challenger bank is offering a mortgage payment break of up to three months, and plenty of support for business loan customers. Founded in 2014, it was the first fully-digital bank to be granted a full UK regulatory licence back in June 2015.

Along with giving customers a break on their mortgages, Atom Bank is also keeping its helplines open 8am-8pm, seven days a week. “We have fabulous people and I’m confident that we will iron out any service wrinkles quickly so do please bear with us as we make the transition,” said CEO, Mark Mullen, in a statement. He added: “In line with your experience of Atom and our determination to provide you with the very best support.”

Tandem Bank

One bank dedicating its focus on keeping customers fully connected during the Coronavirus crisis is Tandem. Its efforts include keeping all contact channels in the UK operational, its customer support is openly available, especially for vulnerable customers, or those struggling to repay their loan. 

In a statement released regarding COVID-19 measures, the company reminded clients about staying vigilant against fraud in these uncertain times, stating: “We will never ask you to confirm or tell us your credit card PIN and we will never email you asking for personal banking details.”


Brazil-based digital bank, Nubank released a statement regarding Coronavirus that read: “During this difficult time, when there are so many uncertainties, we want to reinforce that we are not one of them.”

By redirecting its marketing budget and other efficiency gains for the next two months it has pulled together a USD$3.9mn fund dedicated to helping customers through the crisis. “Despite being digital, we are recognised by our human side” the statement continued “Nubank will be available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in chat, email and on the phone.”

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Monzo Bank

Monzo’s ‘hot coral’ debit cards are used by more than three million people in the UK, a customer base few digital-only banks can match. The London-based fintech released its own statement to customers, offering those in need a helping hand. Advice will be available from specialists in three areas: financial difficulties, vulnerable customers and bereavement.

With an emphasis on supporting their own staff, customers can be looked after efficiently, “We have a training and hiring plan in place in case we need to scale up our specialist support teams quickly”. Guidance on avoiding fraud can be found too, with new financial scams emerging.


This story was Co-Authored by Sergey Balasanyan, Co-Founder of Longevity Bank.

For more information on all topics for FinTech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech magazine.

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