Banking account for digital nomad lifestyle

Why old banking systems are going to die. Glory to clean UX and modern real time technology 🙏

David Leuliette
7 min readAug 14, 2017

Years ago, I completely changed my bank because the website was not accessible and fast enough. I was looking for those 2 topics according to my nomad lifestyle, a secure & online banking account.

I choose ING because it was the only solution I found. After many years I am still disappointed about the service. We are living in the XXI century, and financial industry have money to invest in a decent website.
Why the experience is still mediocre?
My frustration is growing day after day. Hopefully, there are awesome newcomers in the banking industry for my traveler lifestyle.

Middle Ages Banking Experience

Traveling in foreign countries

In 2016, I traveled during 100 days in South America with 3 friends. Before my trip, I called my financial advisors (a real human being).

Hello my dear banking advisor!
I am going to travel out of Europe for a long period of time.
It’s perfectly normal.
Can you please unlock my account and allow me to burn all my money during my trip in South America? 😘

Of course, it worked only for our first country in Peru.

When we all moved to Bolivia all our credit cards were locked — including my friends’ cards — because of some voodoo restrictions or bullsh$t process.

🌟 Bonus: My credit card was completely locked because of “security reasons”. It costs me around 100€ to have a new one (cost of international call to lock/order a new credit card, sending to an embassy, send a new code by paper…)

I am still wondering how a code sent by postal letter is a secure and online solution… But that’s another story.

I am not the only one who is having some troubles with online bank

Protip: When you are traveling in foreign countries, always have a backup plan.
1. Use MoneyGram or WesternUnion.
2. For international transferts write all your names on your passport in the right order when you fill the form.
3. Be careful with the timezones if you are in real trouble.

Extra fees for nothing

I decided to share my experience and write a story because of this.
I just subscribe to Medium premium.
I want to keep alive this awesome community and great ecosystem who is giving me some value — every time I open the app.

I subscribed to medium membership and after the first month, I discovered this bill.

In my case, the only value provided by ING is bullsh$t.

Every month the bank add an extra 0,50 € fee for… nothing.

At the end of the year, it costs 6€ because it’s a monthly subscription plan.

WAT! 😤


I work as a front-end developer. Every day I try to craft good looking web application and fast websites for happy users. I mean, how is it possible to deploy one of the worse UI I have ever seen?

Dear ING, do you need a carousel on your homepage? The answer is no.

Grid system design exist since medieval times, and Ethan Marcotte published an article on A List Apart about “CSS Fluid Grids” in 2009.

Maybe ING didn’t have inhouse design team. I can understand that… But I can’t believe that no one haven’t done a research “dashboard template example” There are plenty of examples available for inspiration on the internet.

Here is a great User eXperience. A simple layout with the list of my lasts transactions. Simple and effective.

List of my expenses on the homepage and the categorization is automatic 😍 Number 26 bank

Every time — I am not going to talk about ING in-house double authentication factor based on your birth date —the user experience mistakes on ING web application are really frustrating because dealing with your money is not the funniest thing to do.

The navigation on the web is horrible (A carousel on your dashboard homepage–seriously?) — but wait there is a native application. Since mobile is eating the world maybe the user experience is better. With 50 000+ employee on linkedin, I am pretty sure they have hired some UX Designer.

The mobile revolution

Design a native mobile application is not the same thing as designing a website. You can’t just put random content and advertisement. You are not Facebook, people don’t want advertisements and Farmville invitations on their online bank account.

On ING Group mobile application, 50% of the layout is used for bullsh$t. On the other hand N26 and Revolut have a navigation on the bottom (Maybe because people are using thumb on their smartphone)

I am not going to order a credit for a house when I am waiting the bus

So the User Interface is not great. No respect of mobile navigation pattern. On the top corner right, the logout icon is a 🔒… It’s not a joke.

My frustration is growing day after day…

Here is my feeling when I open the ING mobile app: I don’t care about your credit offers or sponsorship program. I just want to quickly check if everything is okay with my money (And check if you didn’t add fees for nothing BTW).

Loading… Loading… Bullsh$t content is coming!

Performance matters

It’s… worse… because… the… mobile… app… is… slow…

There are still lots of others issues like sharing money with family/friends, days offs for transferring money between your own accounts (and have an extra fee because you are on overdrawn with your main account. Even if you have money on others accounts, in the same bank 🙈)

Revolution on march

Thank goodness some startups are working with real time technologies as disruptors in financial and banking industry. I already showed you Numer26 and Revolut examples. I use theses 2 modern banking sytem.

N26 because I am an early adopter and a traveler. Every week I save 20 € on my N26 account. After 1 month, I have 80 €. At the end of the year I have 1000 € for traveling. With the money saved, you can visit Indonesia during 1 month and hike volcanos.

Saving 20€ per week gives you 1000€ per year for traveling

I am very happy to use my card. There is no extra fees if you are going to an ATM in a foreign country. I trust them about their mission : Designing a bank the world loves to use.

Solve the pain, less friction, better design

Recently I encounter the design Leader at N26 at the Campus London. Akarsh explained the pain he had with his bank in Germany. Almost the same as mine… in worse: he received postal letters of all his transactions each month. 🙅‍

Sketchoting of Le Wagon London Meetup : How to design a modern banking system

The financial product developed by N26 is amazing because the core feature are very useful:
- You can change the password of your credit card directly from the app
- The categorisation of your expenses is automatic
- Real time notifications (Sometimes at the ATM you have a smartphone alert before you can get your money back)

The mobile bank

I recently moved to London for my new job. 🇬🇧
I was sad because I could’nt use my N26 account, I needed a uk based account to be paid.

No worries the Revolut HQ is in London. I decided to try their service because during the day I have a job. Taking an appointment in a middle aged bank with a human seams a painful experience.

Contrary to Number26, Revolut have only a mobile app at the beginning. The features are the same, you can:

Track Your Expenses
The team built a feature which shows you exactly how much you’re spending, on what, and where.

Spend Without Fees
Revolut is eliminating fees to use your money abroad.
Banks charge up to £47 to spend just £500 in Europe. Revolut always gives you the real exchange rate when you pay in shops, online or withdraw cash.

Get Paid Back
Request money from your phone contacts for dinner, rent, anything.
Forget paying debt collector — get paid back in 3 taps: Choose a contact, enter an amount and request. They hit accept and the money is added to your account instantly.

Request Money Instantly
Did you know you can request money from people who don’t have Revolut? Simply send a sms and people can pay you directly. fast and efficient.

Modern banking for traveler

If you are a traveler, my advice is to open a Revolut account now. This app can become your entire travel wallet. You can keep your money at the same place in 3 differents currencies £ € and $.

The onboarding for new users is perfect and paperless. You only need:
- A picture of your passport
- Your best selfie
- A smartphone

Perfect onboarding! You need only your passport and a selfie

On the other hand it’s the same for N26. If you are living in Europe it’s a great solution.

Protip: In both case, don’t forget to keep your phone number alive. My sister recently dropped her old Spanish number for a new one in Asia.
It’s a little bit complicated if you receive confirmation code by sms.

Thanks for reading! If you have feedback or suggestions, you can find me here:

I Hope this motivates you to travel more without the pain of a crappy bank. Just drop me a message if you have any questions — I would be glad to help you!



David Leuliette

Freelance on a mission to automate my life. Currently launching a book about the React Native ecosystem →