Five digital native banks that win the hearts of generation Z

11 August 2020 3 min. read

In a new report, banking experts from Horváth & Partners benchmarked digital-native banks, or digital banks, globally to shed light on which players best cater to the needs of the upcoming digital-savvy Generation Z consumers.

According to the study, building an offer for ‘digital native’ consumers is becoming an increasingly important strategic priority for banks, amid the growing size and standing of the target group. By tapping into their needs, banks can not only win them over as a customer, but simultaneously leverage the ‘relationship’ to expand into new revenue streams, for instance in the non-banking segment. 

However, meeting the expectations of Gen Z’s requires a novel lens on banking services. “The values and needs of Generation Z are very different from those of older generations. Gen Z’s are highly influenced by friends and peers, well-informed and open to a variety of financial service providers. Banks need to redefine their value propositions in order to attract them as future banking customers,” explained Ingo Kipker and Philipp Demirok from Horváth & Partners

Providing a cutting-edge digital solution combined with a client-centric design are the two key success factors, according to the duo. For their report ‘New revenue models in banking’, they assessed dozens of digital-native banks, to conclude that five banks currently stand out in their offerings and maturity.


Liv. was developed by the Dubai-based bank Emirates NBD as a digital lifestyle bank in 2017. The bank was designed for a young generation and offers features like a daily feed of deals and events, the possibility to split bills with friends instantly, and a loyalty program that gives customers the chance to win an island. The lifestyle bank has turned out to be a big success among young people, and has already acquired more than 300,000 customers in two years. 


FRANK was launched by Singapore's oldest bank OCBC in an attempt to serve the youth market. The bank has a young look and feel, and supports its target group in their personal development. Features like a digital career toolkit, financial education delivered in youth-oriented formats and a financial health tool called ‘Money Insights’, drive high levels of customer engagement. Built on the values of honesty and trust, the bank conquered the youth market and achieved an exceptional market share of 70 percent only four years after its launch.


imaginBank is Spain's prime example of youth banking. Launched by CaixaBank, the bank focuses on the social life of its target audience and adds a community element to banking. The offer is designed to facilitate the lifestyles of its customers and comes with features such as P2P payments via social media, a youth card with special offers, and a tool to book activities like Yoga classes or concert tickets. Only three years after its launch, the bank already hit the magic number of one million customers with an average age of 23. 


ZAK is the Swiss answer to banking for digital natives. Launched by Bank Cler in 2018, the bank was developed as a smartphone bank and combines minimal banking with non-banking features that create a lifestyle and shopping-oriented customer experience. The smartphone bank attracts the tech-savvy generation that appreciates simplicity and convenience.

Key features include virtual sub accounts that enable new ways of saving money, special group deals called ‘Zaktionen’, and ‘Zakdeals’ that turn incoming payments into higher value gift cards. The strategy of developing a dedicated offer for digital natives has proven to be successful, with 90 percent of ZAK-users being new customers of Bank Cler.


Buddybank was launched by UniCredit in an attempt to develop a new banking experience for digital natives. The offer is centered around a messaging concierge that is available 24/7 and that responds to banking and non-banking inquiries. Customers can make payments or ask for assistance in planning their next trip. The conversational bank is successful in targeting a new customer group with different needs. 85 percent of customers joining Buddybank are new customers of UniCredit.