Direct bank

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Direct banks are credit institutions that do banking without their own branch network and do not need any personal contact with their customers . In contrast are the branch banks .


The main difference between direct banks and branch banks is the type of contact between the banks and their customers. There are three types of contact to be distinguished. A personal contact is through a personal conversation between bank employees and bank customers instead (about financial advice , investment advice ), a semi-personal contact is made by phone / cell phone , an impersonal contact is letter , fax , e-mail or electronic banking ago. Semi-personal or impersonal contact takes place through means of distance communication ; Direct banks establish contact with their customers exclusively by means of distance communication. The use of this distribution channel is called direct banking , which can also be operated by branch banks. Branch banks offer online banking , but personal contact is also possible with them for investment and credit advice.

The Deutsche Bundesbank lists direct banks in its banking statistics in the aggregate “regional banks and other credit institutions”. She counts direct banks among the universal banks , while part of the specialist literature regards them as special banks . However, they are universal banks because they usually offer households several, highly standardized and simply structured banking transactions. This includes investment ( day , time deposits , savings deposits ), payments and current accounts , credit cards , consumer loans , overdraft facilities , as well as the securities business ( English "discount brokerage" ).

The Bundesbank dedicated an article to the direct banks, according to which in March 2006 they had a market share of 1.5% - measured in terms of total assets - in the entire credit system . In 2000 their market share was only 0.7%. They achieved an above-average market share in 2006 with 4.6% in the deposit business . Overall, the Bundesbank concludes that with the direct bank, a type of bank that pursues a selective business model, particularly in the deposit and lending business with private households, has gained in importance . In the following years, their growth accelerated, so that their market share in 2014 was 11.5%.

Legal issues

Direct banks are credit institutions within the meaning of Section 1 (1) KWG , as they conduct at least one banking business. The KWG does not use the term “direct banks” because it is based on the conduct of banking business for its classification as a credit institution. The “Principles of proper IT-based accounting systems” that came into force in July 1995 apply to electronic banking. Pursuant to Section 312b (1) No. 3 BGB , banking transactions carried out by consumers with direct banks via remote means of communication are deemed to be contracts not concluded in business premises , in which the consumer is entitled to a right of withdrawal in accordance with Section 355 BGB in accordance with Section 312g (1) BGB .


The first worldwide direct bank is the bank for savings and wealth creation in Frankfurt, founded in October 1965, later renamed Allgemeine Deutsche Direktbank AG and the forerunner of today's direct bank ING-DiBa . Their contact medium had been correspondence with their customers since 1965. Home banking on the basis of the screen text (BTX) ( English videotext ) was offered for the first time in September 1981 by the Continental National Bank of Florida ; this medium of contact with banks developed rapidly in the USA . When the then Deutsche Bundespost introduced BTX in September 1985, the Post used this new medium for postal check traffic . The Citibank transferred its American experience with telephone banking in May 1989 to Germany on the customer's credit bank . Postbank (1992) and Hypovereinsbank (1993) followed with service telephones . Discount brokerage started in January 1994 through Direkt Anlage Bank (DAB Bank). As the first “virtual bank” without business premises, the Security First Network Bank (SFNB) in the USA received a banking license in October 1995 and concentrated on the Internet . In April 1999, Netbank, the first pure Internet bank in Germany and Europe, went into operation. In the meantime, the network of German direct banks has expanded through the establishment of Consors Discount-Broker (June 1994), Comdirect Bank (February 1995), Bank 24 (September 1995), Advance Bank (March 1996), 1822direkt Gesellschaft der Frankfurter Sparkasse (November 1996) ) and by changing the business model at Norisbank (July 2012).

In order to be able to open an account quickly and independently of the seat of the bank, the Postident procedure was introduced in October 1996 so that the new customer no longer has to appear in person at the bank. This also meant that the last personal contact requirement was no longer necessary. Some direct banks simplify the account opening through the videoident procedure . This also means that the identity check is carried out  online.

Banking aspects

In the banking literature, the terms direct banking, home banking direct banking and telephone banking are often used as synonyms. Many of the direct banks are mostly subsidiaries of a banking group . Compared to comparable branch banks, direct banks have significant cost advantages that improve their competitiveness . The main reason is a lower staff capacity , since there is no staff available for advisory work and therefore only about 1/3 of the staff of a branch bank is required. The rapid growth of direct banks made it possible to use inexpensive call centers . Direct banks therefore cause lower personnel costs and also have a lower personnel intensity. A lack of counter space in turn leads to lower material costs ( factory and office equipment , office supplies ) and a more favorable cost-income ratio . The result in the bank calculation is that bank services are produced at lower cost and can be passed on to the customer in the form of cheaper bank fees or interest .

Deposit insurance

Like all credit institutions, direct banks are subject to a statutory deposit protection scheme , which was initially implemented by the Deposit Protection and Investor Compensation Act and has been in place since May 2015 by the Deposit Protection Act (EinSiG). According to § 1 EinSiG, they are obliged to ensure membership in a statutory compensation scheme . This also includes branches in Germany that are maintained by companies domiciled abroad ( foreign banks ). Without this membership in a banking association, direct banks will not receive a banking license from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

Direct banks in Germany

The largest direct bank in Germany is ING-DiBa (9.3 million customers), followed by N26 (5 million customers), Deutsche Kreditbank (3.9 million) and Comdirect Bank (2.75 million).

List of direct banks and their group affiliations

Direct banks for stock exchange transactions include S Broker , flatex (biw Bank), GENO Broker ( DZ Bank ), Comdirect Bank , Consorsbank and ING-DiBa .

In addition, with the banking group of PSD banks, legally independent direct cooperative banks are represented in the respective regions, but together they extend over the entire federal territory. With a total of 60 branches, it represents a middle ground between a direct bank and a branch bank.

Direct banks in Austria

Measured by the number of customers, the largest direct banks in Austria are: easybank (556,000 customers) and ING-DiBa Austria (532,000).

List of direct banks and their group affiliations

Direct banks in Switzerland

United Kingdom

  • Revolut (stand-alone; must be operated with a smartphone)

Individual evidence

  1. Uwe Swoboda (Ed.), Direct Banking , 2000, p. 14
  2. cf. u. a. Thomas Hartmann-Wendels / Andreas Pfingsten / Martin Weber, Bankbetriebslehre , 2007, p. 37; Hans Büschgen , Bankbetriebslehre , 1998, p. 103; Andreas Mugler, The German Banking System in International Comparison , 2014, p. 39
  3. ^ Stanislav Tobias, Bankrecht , 2006, p. 4
  4. Deutsche Bundesbank, Monthly Report May 2006 , p. 28 f.
  5. Deutsche Bundesbank, Monthly Report May 2006 , p. 28
  6. Frankfurter Allgemeine from May 17, 2016, Direct banks need to join forces
  7. Deutsche Bundesbank, Electronic Banking from a Banking Supervision Perspective , Monthly Report December 2000, p. 57
  8. ^ Helena Wiesner / Virginia Wallis, Home Banking in the EC , BEUC / CA / 224/92, August 1992, p. 1
  9. Joachim Süchting / Hans-Michael Heitmüller (eds.), Handbuch des Bankmarketing , 1998, p. 208
  10. Ekkehard M. Jaskulla, Direct Banking in Cyberspace , in: ZBB, 1996, p. 216
  11. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of March 22, 1999, special supplement B7, "The Bank of the Future"
  12. Account opening via Videoident , February 4, 2016
  13. Uwe Swoboda (Ed.), Direct Banking , 2000, p. 6 ff.
  14. Uwe Swoboda (Ed.), Direct Banking , 2000, p. 33
  15. Founder - smartphone bank N26 has 5 million customers . In: Reuters . January 24, 2020 ( [accessed January 24, 2020]).
  16. Commerzbank subsidiary comdirect wins customers, but has a problem, Handelsblatt 01.08.2019
  17. General meeting decides to end the Comdirect. , accessed on May 15, 2020 .
  18. French group BPCE takes over Fidor Group - FAQs
  19. PSD banks at a glance
  20. Market share of the Austrian direct banks. Retrieved November 10, 2018 .
  21. a b These five smartphone banks are competing with Swiss institutes In:, accessed on January 14, 2019.