Digital bank Yapeal is offering basic accounts to Swiss people living in neighbouring countries that undercut the rising fees of mainstream competitors. Swiss expatriates have long complained that banks in their homeland are giving them a rough deal with extra costs and account closures.
Attempts by the Organisation for the Swiss Abroad (OSA) to make the state-owned Postfinance bank offer the same services to expats as Swiss residents have been rejected by parliament. Banking restrictions followed a global crackdown on tax evasion, led by the United States, which heaped increasing compliance costs on Swiss banks. Their answer has been to pass on the costs to overseas clients and in some cases to terminate services.
Price comparison research group Moneyland estimates that Swiss expats pay an average CHF300 ($328) in extra costs per year compared to people living in Switzerland. Yapeal, which became the first Swiss entity to receive a fintech banking license last year, is attempting to capture a market share of this dissatisfied client segment with a cut-price model.
It says it can do this because it has lower personnel expenses and does not operate physical bank branches. Because Yapeal is a digital bank, it does not require people to come to Switzerland to open accounts.