Are neobanks regulated?

  • Neobanks are digital-only banks without any physical branches, operating primarily through mobile apps and web platforms.
  • Neobanks are subject to regulatory oversight that includes obtaining necessary licenses, adhering to financial stability and compliance standards, and ensuring robust consumer protections.
  • In the burgeoning era of digital banking, regulation ensures not only the security of individual customers but also the health of the broader financial system.

Although the neobanks are already subject to supervision in many ways, this is not enough. Only with more stringent and comprehensive regulation can neobanks gain the trust and support of customers and continue to develop.

–Jinny Xu, BTW reporte

The rise of neobanks has reshaped the financial landscape, offering tech-savvy consumers innovative and user-friendly alternatives to traditional banking. As these digital banks continue to gain popularity, a crucial question emerges: Are neobanks regulated? In this blog post, we’ll delve into how neobanks are overseen, and what it means for consumers.

How it works?

Neobanks are regulated through a variety of mechanisms that ensure they operate in a safe and secure manner, akin to traditional banks. They typically need to comply with financial regulations, such as anti-money laundering laws, maintain consumer protection standards, and hold licenses either directly as banks or through partnerships with established banks. However, the extent and specifics of the regulation can vary significantly by country, reflecting different approaches to digital banking and financial innovation.

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Regulatory landscape for neobanks

Licensing and regulation

Neobanks operate under various regulatory frameworks depending on their location and business model. In many jurisdictions, neobanks must obtain a banking license or operate through a partnership with an already licensed banking institution. This approach ensures that they adhere to the financial laws and regulations applicable to traditional banks.

In the United States, neobanks often partner with established banks to offer FDIC-insured deposit services without holding a bank charter themselves. However, some like Varo Bank have obtained their own national bank charters, subjecting them to the same rigorous regulatory standards as traditional banks.

In Europe, many neobanks operate under specific fintech-friendly regulations such as the Electronic Money Directive, which allows them to conduct some banking activities without a full banking license. However, those wishing to offer a full range of banking services must obtain a banking license from relevant authorities like the European Central Bank or national regulators.

Consumer protection

Regulation also plays a critical role in protecting consumers. Neobanks, like traditional banks, are required to implement measures that protect customers’ funds, ensure privacy, and provide transparency of services. Regulatory bodies in various countries oversee these practices to ensure that neobanks adhere to the established consumer protection standards.

Financial stability and compliance

Neobanks are subject to financial scrutiny to ensure stability and resilience. They must comply with various financial regulations, including anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) standards. Regular audits and reporting to regulatory authorities help maintain the integrity and stability of these financial entities.

What this means for consumers

For consumers, the regulated nature of neobanks means a level of safety and security comparable to traditional banks. However, it is crucial for customers to verify the regulatory status of any neobank before entrusting their finances to it. Understanding whether a neobank is licensed, the nature of its regulatory oversight, and how it protects consumer rights can help in making an informed decision.


Jinny Xu

Jinny Xu is an intern reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and AI. She graduated from Chongqing Institute of Foreign Studies.Send tips to

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