The 10 Best EMI’s in the UK

EMI’s (Electronic Money Institutions) are bringing online banking solutions to a number of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses throughout the United Kingdom. With the implementation of the European Union Payment Services Directive, EMI’s are being supported to encourage competition, increase the level of transparency and customer satisfaction, and build a better ecosystem for efficient payment systems. Electronic or digital banking offers increased security measures, user-friendly interfaces with easy access, robust packages of services, and an easy point of entry. Of course, not all EMI’s are equal and each one offers unique or competitive services that make them stand out. The goal is to find which one is right for your specific needs. We have broken down a list of the pros and cons of the 10 best EMI’s in the UK to help you navigate your options.

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Launched in 2015, Monese was born from the desire to provide an inclusive banking experience, and was the first 100% mobile current account in the UK. 

The Pros

Clear pricing information is available on their website. Easy account management through their mobile app. Provides a free Mastercard with contactless pay. Works with Apple Pay and there is no limit on contactless pay when you use your smartphone. Accessible in ten languages. Cash deposits available at over 40,000 locations across the UK. International transfers at a competitive fee.

The Cons

You have to upload a picture of your face and a photo ID for identification verification, which isn’t unusual. Apple Pay features currently only available in France and the UK.

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Launched in July 2015, Revolut states that they service over 7 million customers worldwide with over 350 million transactions.

The Pros

Clear pricing information available on their website. Ability to manage your account online and with their mobile app. Ability to categorise built-in budgeting. They can round up monetary amounts on purchases to deposit into a savings account for you. Prove real-time notifications. Interbank exchange rate for over 150 currencies. Up to €300 per month on ATM withdrawals without a fee. Can set up recurring payments.

The Cons

Flat mark-up on exchanges on weekends and for certain currencies. 2% fee on ATM withdrawals above €300 per month.

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Rebranded from LeuPay to LeoPay in 2018, they offer services in over 40 countries, including Europe, North America, South America, and Africa.

The Pros

Convenient account management available both online and through their mobile app. Free peer-to-peer transfers and instant notifications about account activity. Direct debit options for 50p per transaction. Free IBAN accounts in over 10 currencies. The first two Visa cards are free with no issuing or monthly fees, and are contactless payment-enabled. No charges for international payments. ATM withdrawals are available worldwide. 

The Cons

They require a five-minute video call with a representative for ID verification. Negative online reviews refer to funds being withheld, as well as accounts being closed down.

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Founded in 2012, Azimo has a mission of offering affordable, democratised financial services to all. They began offering business solutions around 2019 and are authorized by the Financial Services Commission (United Kingdom).

The Pros

Easy account management through online and mobile app. International payments and payroll services are available. No minimum transfers, making it good for both business and personal use. Money remittance to over 195 countries in over 60 currencies. Exact delivery times are shown after a transfer is completed and most are completed within a day. Real-time notifications through emails and SMS messages. Quick and easy sign-up.

The Cons

Lack of transfer fees information disclosed on their website. Only your first two transfers are fee-free.

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Mistertango is a licensed electronic money institute based out of Lithuania and supervised by Central Bank.

The Pros

Clear pricing information available on their website. No monthly fees. Free MasterCard with account set up. ATM withdrawals are free under €200 per month. Offers SEPA & SWIFT money transfers. You can create limitless virtual IBANs for each customer or payment. Account management through an online portal or through their mobile app. Supports Bitcoin with the potential for supporting more cryptocurrencies in the future.

The Cons

There are some negative reviews online referring to account freezes, but each one was addressed by a rep from the company to try to help them.

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When Anytime launched in 2014 originally aimed its services at younger people. By the end of 2015, it expanded to include competitive business options with an emphasis on client feedback.

The Pros

Clear pricing information available on their website. Multiple packages are available to fit a variety of needs. Limitless number of Mastercards that you can have with them. International transactions for free. Cheque cashing available. Offers direct debit, employee payroll and bill pay. Quotes and invoices can be created through their interface. Account management online or through their mobile app. Generally positive reviews online about service and customer assistance. API available to for customised integration on other platforms.

The Cons

Some negative online reviews state that funds are sometimes withheld.

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Founded in 2013, N26 is a fully licensed mobile bank providing services to over 26 countries. They state that they rank among the top ten most valuable FinTech companies worldwide.

The Pros

Clear pricing information available on their website. Account management available through their online platform and mobile app. You can create subcategories for money management through their app interface. Real-time updates for your account through push notifications. Free worldwide ATM withdrawals. Cash-back on purchases for accounts specifically set up for freelancers and self-employed people. Travel insurance and mobile theft coverage are also available.

The Cons

You have to upload a picture of your face and a photo ID for identification verification, which isn’t unusual.

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Founded in 2012, Paysera is a licensed electronic money institution through the Bank of Lithuania. Their goal is to provide simple and accessible electronic money solutions with no boundaries.

The Pros

A comprehensive breakdown of their prices is available on their website. Free account setup. Account management through their online portal and mobile app. A contactless Visa debit card is available. Instant transfers through SEPA Instant. They offer global transfers and currency exchange. Easy integration of payment templates from other banks. They have generally positive reviews online. 

The Cons

There are some restrictions as to the specific countries where payments and transfers can occur, though the information for this is clearly laid out on their website.

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Established in 2011, ePayments offers solutions for business and personal accounts, including payments for freelancers, affiliate programs, and social networks for business and personal accounts. They provide a prepaid Mastercard in addition to their e-wallet for ease of use in stores.

The Pros

Free Mastercard with account setup. The Mastercard works at ATMs to withdraw money in any currency, though there is a fee. Ability to open a European IBAN account online. Intuitive dashboard for account management available on Apple and Android devices. Quick and easy setup.

The Cons

Some negative reviews online refer to issues with technical aspects and customer service.

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Holvi was founded in 2011 and provides business solutions for freelancers and entrepreneurs.

The Pros

Clear pricing information available on their website. Multiple packages to fit the needs of small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. Online or mobile app account management. Create and send invoices. Easy method for uploading receipts, categorising transactions and adding VAT. A free business Mastercard is included. SEPA transfers or SumUp available. Online store set up options with their software.

The Cons

Not a good option for larger businesses with more complex needs. Some reviews mention that the mobile app on iOS can be buggy.

Provider of the Month

Why Monese

Monese provide mobile money accounts that are inclusive, instant and on-demand. They launched in September 2015 as the first 100% mobile account in the UK. Today, people from all over Europe can open a UK account in minutes, free from the hidden fees and restrictions that legacy banks impose.