When I first heard about the so-called UK Challenger Banks like Monzo and Atom, I was amazed that there wasn’t a similar offering in Canada. The Canadian retail banking sector desperately needs new players bring compelling products to the market but nobody was doing it. There are some options like PC Financial and Tangerine but they’re both backed by one of the Big Banks (CIBC and Scotiabank, respectively). Nobody was attempting a ground-up rebuild of a bank using modern technology and practices.

And then I heard about KOHO and their pre-paid Visa card backed by People’s Trust.

KOHO built their tech new from the ground-up. It has a mobile-first user interface hooked up to a modern real-time server written in Go.

This is banking, re-imagined. No legacy infrastructure. No suffocating bureaucracy.

The product has some killer features, too:

  • No fees
  • 0.5% cashback rewards
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Savings “buckets” to save for specific goals
  • Spendable amount (prevents spending your goal money)
  • Lost your card? Lock it. Found it again? Unlock it. No need to cancel the card!
  • Only 1.5% margin on Foreign Exchange. Most cards charge 2.5% or more.

The benefits of a real-time system are evident when you top it up. Email transfers come through in a matter of minutes, and transaction notifications in the app happen at the same time as the “approved” screen on the point-of-sale system.

You can get a $10 sign-up bonus using the referral code: