The first pure-play online 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 banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, et al) maintained market share by providing digital services deemed “good enough” to retain customers loath to switch banks.

But that began changing in the mid-2010s, first in the UK, then elsewhere as well-financed digital players started making inroads with consumers. There was Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Nubank, Chime, just to name a few. But we still haven’t seen a breakout small business bank, partly because of the love/hate relationship business owners have with big banks.

In the adjacent SMB lending space (see our Top 30 Digital Lender’s list), top brands such as Kabbage (now American Express), Square, Paypal, Amazon, Brex, and others have grabbed significant share. But there is not yet a place where small businesses flock to get deposit, payment, and financing needs met in a single interface. Brex was probably the closest, but it recently abandoned the SMB market to focus on larger enterprises.

So who are the best digital challenger business banks? Let’s start with our definition.

  1. Centered around deposit and debit/charge card services (eliminates Kabbage and most SMB lenders)
  2. Predominantly focused on small-business financial services (eliminates Paypal, Amazon, Block
  3. Primarily digitally delivered (rules out Wells Fargo, BofA, and the majority of traditional banks*)
  4. Founded since 1999

For the latest table, check our Challenger Bank table


Challenger of the Month*

Mercury Bank

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HQ: SF  |  Founded: 2017  |  Raised $136M (including $120M in 2021)  |  Valuation: $1.7 billion | Website visits: 2.2 million/month  | Employees: 728  |  Article citations: 20  |  Linkedin: 37,000 followers | Trustpilot: 3.9 (822 reviews) | iOS app: 4.9 (3,800 reviews)

Resources: Looking for digital banks, lenders, payment providers, insurance or digital accounting for small businesses? Check out our latest lists: Small Business (SMB) savings/treasury accounts (7) | SMB online lenders (33) | SMB challenger banks (15) | SMB insurers (15) | SMB charge cards/expense management (16) | Billpay & invoicing (16)| Payment processors (7) | Subscription processors (7) | SMB digital accounting/bookkeeping (21)

The FAB Score (Fintech Attention Barometer) is a proxy for the size of a private fintech company.



Leading Digital Small Business Banks (United States)
ranked by our FAB score (Fintech Attention Barometer**)

Rank Company FAB** Reviewed Founded HQ Funding ($M***) Visits (Feb’24)
1 Mercury 464 18 Mar 24 2017 SF $152 2,200,000
2 NOVO 233 18 Mar 24 2016 NYC $296 480,000
3 Relay 156 18 Mar 24 2018 Toronto $43 690,000
4 Found 148 18 Mar 24 2019 SF $75 560,000
5 Arc 103 18 Mar 24 2021 SF $181 30,000
6 Lili 56 18 Mar 24 2018 NYC $80 210,000
7 Grasshopper 50 18 Mar 24 2016 NYC $172 51,000
8 NorthOne 49 18 Mar 24 2016 NYC $90 58,000
9 Viably 46 18 Mar 24 2021 NC $71 23,000
10 Baselane 41 18 Mar 24 2020 NYC $7.9 160,000
11 Meow 36 18 Mar 24 2021 NYC $27 80,000
12 Slash 30 18 Mar 24 2020 SF $19 79,000
13 ZilBank 28 18 Mar 24 2021 Dallas $0 110,000
14 Moves 13 18 Mar 24 2020 Dover, DE $6.6 29,000
15 Winden 12 18 Mar 24 2021 LA $5.3 17,000
16 Arival 9 18 Mar 24 2018 Miami, FL $10.8 14,000
17 Guava 4 18 Mar 24 2018 NYC $2.4 1,000

Sources: FintechLabs, Pitchbook, Crunchbase, SimilarWeb; 18 Mar 2024

*Our business model depends on revenue from referrals and sponsors. When you see a referral link in the URL, we may earn a fee for new accounts (thanks!). This can improve visibility on our website, but does not impact the company’s FAB score.
** The FAB score, Fintech Attention Barometer, is a proxy for the overall size of a private company since they typically do not release traditional metrics (# customers, deposits, AUM, etc). The score is based on VC funding, website traffic, mobile downloads, and the number of employees. It’s a work in progress, so expect changes in the formula.
***Funding is the amount invested into the company as either equity or debt.
****Provide SMB checking accounts, but is not its core business.


Challenger SMB Banks Currently Active in the United States


1. Mercury Technologies
FAB Score = 464 (down 17 from Feb ’24)
HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
Founded: 2017
Partner banks: Choice Financial Group, Evolve Bank & Trust, and a network of 20 banks to hold excess deposits; Patriot Bank (IO card issuer)

Traction
– More than 100,000 customers (Techcrunch, Mar 2023)
– $50B processed in 2022, double the $23B in 2021
– Raised $152M (Crunchbase) including $120M in 2021
– Valuation: $1.7B (based on July 2021 round); $1.6B based on Q3 ’23 secondary market sales
– Website visits: 2.2 million (Feb 2024; SimilarWeb<<<< Most website traffic
– Employees: 728 (Pitchbook), unchanged since Feb, up 47 since January, up 59 since August

Social
– Articles: 20 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 37,000 followers (771 employees, up 25 since Feb)
iOS app: 4.9 (3,800 reviews, up 300 since Feb)
Trustpilot: 3.9 (822 reviews, up 47 since Feb)


 

2. Novo
FAB Score: 233
(down 40)
HQ: NYC
Founded: 2016

Traction
– Raised $296M including $125M in Aug 2023, $125M in 2022, and $41M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 640,000 (Feb 2024; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 446 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Integrations: Wise, Xero, Slack

Social
Linkedin: 25,000 followers (402 employees, up 7 since Feb)
– Articles: 177 (Crunchbase)- Industry awards: 4 (Novo)
Trustpilot: 4.5 (4,160, up 10 since Feb)
iOS app: 4.8 (13,600 reviews, up 100 since Feb)


3. Relay
FAB Score: 156 (up 7)
– HQ: Toronto
– Founded: 2018
– Partner bank: Thread

Traction
– Raised $43.3M including $24M in 2024, $15M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 560,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 152 (Pitchbook), up 10 since Feb, up 24 since Nov

Social
Linkedin: 7,000 followers (160 employees, up 7 since Feb, up 11 since Jan, up 19 since Nov)
TrustPilot: 4.6 (1,470 reviews, up 90 since Feb)
iOS: 4.7 (940 reviews, up 90 since Feb)


 

4. Found 
FAB Score = 148 (down 20)
HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
Founded: 2019
BaaS partner: LendingClubBank

Traction:
– Raised $75.2M including $60M in Feb 2022; $12.75M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 480,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 93 (Pitchbook), unchanged since Nov, down 2 since October

Social:
Linkedin: 4,000 followers (89 employees, down 1 since Jan, unchanged since Nov)
Trustpilot: 1.8 (22 reviews, up 1 since Feb)
iOS: 4.8 (15,000 reviews, up 800 since Feb)


 

5. Arc
Fab Score = 103 (down 6)
HQ: SF
Founded: 2021
Banking services provider: Piermont Bank

Traction:
– Raised: $181M in 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 30,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 45 (Pitchbook), unchanged since Nov

Social:
– Articles: 2 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 10,000 followers (138, up 16 since Feb, up 25 since Jan, up 30 since Nov)


6. Lili
FAB Score = 56 (down 10)
HQ: NYC
Founded: 2018

Traction:
– Raised $80M including $55M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 210,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 105 (Pitchbook), unchanged since Nov

Social:
– Articles: 18 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 12,000 followers (68 234 employees, down 166 since Feb, down 157 since Nov)
TikTok: 234,000 followers; 600,000 likes (unchanged for a year)
Trustpilot: 4.7 (2,940 reviews,  up 110 since Feb)


7. Grasshopper Bank
FAB Score = 50
(down 3)
HQ: NYC
Founded: 2016

Traction:
– Raised $172M including $10M in Jan 2024, $30M Aug 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Assets: $620 million (12/31/22), 2.1x growth year over year (source: company)
– Deposits: $550 million (12/31/22), 2.2x growth year over year
– Loans: $450 million (12/31/22), 3.6x growth year over year
– Revenues: $17 million (2022), 2.4x growth year over year
– Website visits: 51,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
Employees: 119 (Pitchbook), unchanged since Feb, up 18 since August

Social:
– Articles: 26 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 21,000 followers (124 employees, up 4 since Feb, up 5 since Jan, up 11 since Nov)
Trustpilot: 3.3 (86 reviews, up 5 since Feb)


8. NorthOne
FAB Score: 49 (unchanged)
HQ: NYC/Toronto
Founded: 2016

Traction:
– Raised $90M including $67M in Oct 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 58,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 62 (Pitchbook), down 1 since Feb, down 1 since August

Social:
– Articles: 32 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 9,000 followers (62 employees, down 1 since Feb, up 2 since Jan, unchanged since Nov)
TrustPilot: 3.8 (149 reviews,  up 4 since Feb)
iOS app: 4.7 (2,700 reviews, unchanged since Nov)


9. Viably
FAB Score: 46
(unchanged)
HQ: Charlotte, NC
Founded: 2016

Traction:
– Raised $71M including $50M (debt) in 2023 and $21M in 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 23,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 34 (Pitchbook), up 3 since Feb, up 3 since  Jan, unchanged since Nov

Social:
– Articles: 3 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 1,100 followers (34 employees, up 1 since Feb, up 3 since Jan, up 2 since Nov)
– iOS app: NA


10. Baselane
FAB Score: 41 (up 1)
HQ: NYC
Founded: 2020

Traction:
– Raised: $7.9M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 160,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 36 (Pitchbook), up 5 since Feb, up 7 since Nov

Social:
– Articles: 5 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 2,000 followers (37 employees, up 1 since Feb, up 4 since Jan, up 7 since Nov)

 


11. Meow
FAB Score: 36
(down 18)
– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2021
– Banking service providers: FirstBank, Grasshopper Bank, Third Coast Bank

Rates (APY)
Top: 5.0% Treasuries/4.80% FDIC insured (11 Dec 2023**)
Minimum Balance: none

Traction
– Raised: $27 million including $22 million in 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Employees: 25 (Pitchbook), down 2 since Feb, down 2 since Nov
– Website visits: 80,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Linkedin: 5,000 followers


12. Slash
FAB Score = 30 (down 7)
HQ: SF
Founded: 2020

Traction:
– Raised: $19M (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 79,000 (Similarweb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 18 (Pitchbook), unchanged since Jan, down 1 since Nov

Social:
– Article: 1 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 1,000 followers (17 employees, unchanged since Jan, down 1 since Nov)


13. Zilbank
FAB Score = 28 (down 14)
HQ: Grand Rapids, MI
Founded: 2021

Traction:
– Funding: INA (Crunchbase)
– Employees: 6 (Linkedin)
– Website visits: 110,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)

Social:
Linkedin: 2,000 followers (6 employees, unchanged since Jan, up 1 since Nov)
– Articles: 5 (Crunchbase)


14. Moves
FAB Score: 13 (down 9)
HQ: Dover, DE

Traction:
– Raised: $6.6M including $4.8M in 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 29,000 (Similarweb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 17 (Pitchbook), down 25 since Feb, down 28 since Nov

Social:
– Articles: 10 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 2,000 followers (16 employees, down 8 since Feb, 19 from Jan, down 28 since Nov)


15. Winden
FAB Score = 12 (down 3)
HQ: LA
Founded: 2021

Traction:
– Raised: $5.3M in 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Employees: 20 (Pitchbook), unchanged since August
– Website visits: 17,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)

Social:
– Articles: 2 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 2,000 followers (14 employees, down 2 since Jan and Nov)
– Trustpilot: No reviews


16. Arival
FAB score: 9 (unchanged)
HQ: Miami, FL
Founded: 2018

Traction:
– Raised: $10.8M including $5M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 14,000 (Similarweb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 40 (Pitchbook), down 3 since Nov

Social:
– Articles: 5 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 15,000 followers (42 employees, up 2 since Feb, unchanged since Nov)


17. Guava
Fab Score = 4
(unchanged)
HQ: NYC
Founded 2018
Banking services provider: Piermont Bank

Traction:
– Raised: $3.1M including $650k in Feb 2023 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 1,000 (SimilarWeb, Feb 2024)
– Employees: 10 (Pitchbook), unchanged since August

Social:
Linkedin: 2,000 followers (16 employees, up 1 since Feb, up 2 since Jan, down 1 since Nov)
– Articles: None (Crunchbase)

 


Other SMB checking accounts at companies whose core business is not SMB banking

1. Bluevine
FAB Score = 274 (up 20)
HQ: San Francisco
Founded: 2013

Traction
– Raised: $769M prior to 2021 (Crunchbase) <<<<Highest funding amount
– Valuation: $1B+ (estimate)
– Website visits: 830,000 (SimilarWeb, Jan 2024)
– Employees: 584 (Pitchbook), up 6 since Nov
– Articles: 127 (Crunchbase)

Social
Linkedin: 54,000 followers (599 employees, up 6 since Jan, up 19 since Nov)
– Trustpilot:  4.3 (7,730 reviews, up 90 since Jan)

Unlaunched or No Longer Listed

Lance (pivoted to Sequence spend management Sep 2023)
FAB Score: 7 (NEW)
HQ: NYC
Founded: 2018

Traction:
– Raised: $4.7M (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: <5,000 (Similarweb, Sep 2023)
– Employees: 31 (Pitchbook)

Social:
– Articles: 7 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 1,200 followers (81 employees)

 

 

Vergo (pivoted to spend management for construction industry Sep 2023)
FAB Score = 10 (down 6)
HQ: NYC
Founded: 2021

Traction:
– Raised $4.2M including $4.1M in June 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: less than 5,000 (SimilarWeb, Sep 2023)
Employees: 29 (Pitchbook)

Social:
– Articles: 3 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 1,300 followers (25 employees, unchanged)
– Trustpilot: NA

LiveOak Bank (discontinued business checking Aug 2023)
FAB Score = 45 (down 6) 
HQ: Wilmington, NC
Founded: 2008

Traction:
Raised: $152 million (Crunchbase)
Revenue (TTM): $392M (Yahoo)
Valuation: $1.4B (Public; 30 Aug 2023, up $100M since 14 July)
Website visits: 150,000 (Similarweb, July 2023)
Employees: 886 (Pitchbook), unchanged

Social:
Articles: 3 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 18,000 followers (915 employees, up 9 since May)
Trustpilot: 4.2 (70 reviews, up 37)


Oxygen (removed Feb 2023, because they appear to be more focused on consumers)
FAB Score = NA

– HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $45M including $20M in 2023 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 230,000 (SimilarWeb, Jan 2023)
– Employees: 92 (Pitchbook), down 5 since March
– Articles: 22 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 5,700 followers (97 employees, up 2 since March)
Trustpilot: 3.3 (192 reviews)
iOS app: 4.8 (24,100 reviews)

Zifi (Zions Bank)
Pivoted to card processing provider (April 2023)
– HQ: Salt Lake City, UT
– Founded: 2022
– Raised: NA (unit of Zions Bank)
– Website visits: 24,000 (SEMrush, April 2023); 4,300 (SimilarWeb)
Linkedin: 267 followers (12 employees, up 12 since March)


Challengers Closed to New Accounts

Nearside (formerly Hatch) (removed Feb 2023)
Note: Plastiq acquired Nearside in Nov ’22 for a reported $130M and is shutting down its banking services
FAB Score = 66 (down 2)
– HQ: SF
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $73M including $58M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 8,000 (SimilarWeb, April 2023)
– Employees: 57 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Articles: 5 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 1,500 followers (24 employees, down 15 since March)
– TrustPilot: no reviews
iOS: 4.3 (183 reviews)


Solid (was Wise) >> pivoted to Fintech as a Service in 2021
FAB Score: NA
– HQ: SF
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $18M prior to 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 1.9 million (Mar 2022; SEMrush)
– Employees: 126 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 4 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 2,020 followers (56 employees)


Joust (acquired by ZenBusiness, 30 July 2020; currently referring customers to Radius Bank)
– Target: Freelancers
– HQ: Austin, TX
– Founded: 2017
– Raised: $11M (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: Unknown
– Employees: 18 (Pitchbook)
– Citations: 5 (Crunchbase)
– Twitter followers: 448
– Trustpilot: NA
– iOS: 4.1 (28 reviews)


Seed (Acquired by Cross River Bank currently closed to new customers)
– HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
– Founded: 2014
– Raised $5.2M (2015) (Crunchbase)
– App downloads (last 30 days): 425 (Apptopia)
– Website visits: 210 (May 2021; SEMrush)
– Number of employees: 12 (Pitchbook)
– Citations: 4 (Crunchbase)
– Twitter: 810 followers


Addendum: Other SMB/SME challenger banks around the world (not a definitive list):

UK

Germany

Australia

France

Rest of world