Is this the new face of Generation Z banking?

Forget fancy apps and metal cards. A new breed of «messenger banks» are breaking onto the scene.

We’ve seen challenger banks for teens; we’ve seen pocket money apps for tweens; and now, Europe’s youngsters are getting a “messenger bank” — an encrypted chatbot that manages users’ finances and sends money via Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Viber.

The fintech behind the venture is called Zelf and is on the cusp of launching, having signed up 350,000 users to its waiting list across France and Spain since April.

Unlike its fellow neobanks, Zelf has no app and no physical card. It also has no “offboarding” — meaning users can’t withdraw funds once inside. Instead, users will be able to transfer money to other ‘Zelfers’ or shop via a virtual Mastercard, which integrates with Apple Pay and Google Pay (allowing both online and offline shopping).

Unorthodox as this many sound, the company’s founders are no amateurs. Founded by an alumnus of Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital and BNP Paribas, its team understands traditional finance — they simply want to rewrite the rules to meet the needs of a generation it reportedly ‘gets’.

So is this the new future of banking? Or is this a long-shot, that’s overly reliant on the goodwill of Big Tech and security short-cuts?

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