Source: CB Insights


The first pure-play digital bank Security First Network Bank (SFNB) launched in 1995, just a year after Amazon.com. But unlike ecommerce, digital-only banking was slow to catch on. The legacy players held onto their market share by providing digital services that were “good enough” to retain customers loath to switch banks.

But that began changing 3 or 4 years ago, first in the UK, then elsewhere as well-financed digital players started making inroads with consumers, first Monzo, then Revolut, Starling, Nubank, Chime, just to name a few. But we still haven’t seen a breakout small business bank. The digital small biz lenders are grabbing share, Kabbage, Square, Paypal, Amazon, Brex, etc. But there is not yet a place where small businesses flock to get deposit, payment, and financing needs met in a single interface.

So who are the best business banks? First let’s define what a business bank is. I don’t believe they need to be regulated as a bank as long as they facilitate the big three products under one UI: deposits (e.g., cash holding account), debit cards, and credit lines. Under that definition, PayPal is a business “bank” as is Square and Amazon. But Brex, which only offers a corporate card and Kabbage which only offers a credit line, are not.

But to make our list of Best Digital Banks for Small Business, the company must be predominantly focused on small business financial services (eliminates Paypal, Amazon and Square), and deliver it through primarily digital means (rules out Wells Fargo, BofA, and the majority of traditional banks). We are also including divisions of traditional FIs, if they operate under a separate autonomous brand, such as BBVA’s Azlo.



Leading USA digital small business banks
ranked by our proprietary FAB score (Fintech Attention Barometer, see note 1) 

  1. Bento for Business
    FAB score
    : 17
    – Partners: Community Federal
    – Target:
    – HQ: SF
    – Founded: 2014
    – Raised: $18.5M ($9M in ’18, $7M in ’16, $2.5M in ’16)
    – App downloads: Unknown
    – Monthly web visitors: 55k (SimilarWeb)
    – Employees: Less than 50 (CB)
    – Press: 34 articles in past 2 years (10 in ’20, 23 in ’19, 1 in ’18)
    – Twitter: 1.1k followers
    – Trustpilot: 4.6 (91 reviews)
    – iOS app: 5.0 (6 reviews)
  2. Novo
    FAB Score: 14
    – HQ: NYC
    – Founded:
    – Raised $6.5M (Apr ’19) (Pitchbook)
    – App downloads (last 30 days): 12K (Apptopia))
    – Website visitors (monthly): 44k (SimilarWeb)
    – Employees: 31-40 employees (Pitchbook)
    – Articles (past 2 years): 8 (2 ’20, 6 ’19, 1 ’18)
    – Twitter: 750 followers
    – Industry awards: 4 (Novo)
    – Integrations: Transferwise, Xero, Slack
    – TrustPilot: 2.8 (3 reviews)
    – iOS app: 4.5 (404 reviews)
  3. Azlo (owned by BBVA)
    FAB Score: 13
    – HQ: San Francisco
    – Founded: 2017
    – Raised: NA
    – Unknown app downloads (last 30 days)
    – 314k monthly website visitors (SimilarWeb)
    – Less than 100 employees
    – 35 articles in past 2 years (4 in ’20, 26 in ’19, 5 in ’18)
    – 1.0k Twitter followers
    – Trustpilot: 3.5 (127 reviews)
    – iOS: 4.3 (249)

  4. Joust
    FAB Score: 9.1
    – Target: Freelancers
    – HQ: Austin, TX
    – Founded: 2017
    – Raised: $6.1M ($2.6 ’19, $3.5 ’18 CB)
    – Unknown app downloads (last 30 days)
    – 4.3k monthly website visitors (SimilarWeb)
    – Less than 50 employees (CB)
    – 12 articles in past 2 years (5 in ’20, 7 in ’19) (Google News)
    – 390 Twitter followers
    – Trustpilot: NA
    – iOS: 4.1 (28 reviews)
  5. NorthOne
    FAB Score: 7.3
    – HQ: NYC/Toronto
    – Founded: 2016
    – Raised $2.2M ($1.7M ’18, $0.5 ’16) (Crunchbase)
    – App downloads (last 30 days): NA
    – Website visitors (monthly): 12.2k (SimilarWeb)
    – Employees: 11 to 50 (CB)
    – Articles (past 2 years): 13 (1 in ’20, 10 in ’19, 2 in ’18)
    – Twitter: 2,200 followers
    – TrustPilot: NA
    – iOS: 4.3 (213 reviews)
  6. Seed – Acquired by Cross River Bank (currently closed to new customers)
    FAB Score: 3.1
    – HQ: San Francisco
    – Founded: 2014
    – Raised $5.2M (2015) (Crunchbase)
    – App downloads (last 30 days): 200
    – Website visitors (monthly): 5.9k (SimilarWeb)
    – Employees: less than 50 (CB)
    – Articles (past 2 years): 0
    – Twitter: 870 followers
    – TrustPilot: NA

Notes:
1. Because we are number nerds, we are developing a proprietary score that measures the adoption of a new digital financial services company. We are calling it the FAB score, standing for Fintech Attention Barometer. It’s a work in progress, so expect changes in the formula.

2. Others around the world (not a definitive list):

UK

Germany

Australia

Rest of world

  • Holvi – Finland, acquired by BBVA March 2016
  • Qonto – France
  • Tochka – Russia