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3 min read 10.03.2022 675
Ese Precious
Ese Precious
Fintech writer at AskWallet.io
European Banking Cards and Apps for Ukrainian refugees

European Banking Cards and Apps for Ukrainian refugees

Following the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people are abandoning their homes and fleeing the country with just essentials in their hands.  Some managed to withdraw money, but a large proportion of refugees were cut off from their bank accounts and some do not even have a working bank card to ask friends and acquaintances to help by transferring money to them. Therefore, it is vital to assist refugees in swiftly opening a basic bank account with a debit card so that they may acquire a residence and a source of assistance as soon as feasible. Accordingly, here is our general quick-reference guide for you.

Why Do You Need to Have a Bank Account?

Without a bank account, refugees in most European countries cannot receive money or financial social benefits, pay bills, begin a tenancy, shop online, and save their money safely. Therefore, opening a bank account, basic payment account, or a payment card is an urgent priority for both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian migrants fleeing to safe countries in Europe.


 

Is a Basic Payment Account Useful?

A basic payment account is an account that comes with a debit card for shopping online and in physical stores. It can be used for the setting up of one or more regular standing orders like paying your weekly or monthly bills or rent. Other uses of this account include making direct payments through the direct debit process, sending money to banks in your host country or other European countries (via wire transfer).


 

Benefits of a Basic Bank Account

A basic bank account provides a range of benefits to customers. While different banks across Europe offer products and services with competitive uniqueness in features, they generally ensure to provide the following benefits to customers, including refugees:

  • Physical banking, phone banking, mobile banking, and online banking.
  • Deposit and withdrawal of cash at branches of the banks.
  • Deposit and withdrawal of cash at ATMs located domestically and in other member states of the European Union (EU).
  • Direct debit payments within the European Union.
  • International debit cards for payments domestically and overseas.
  • Standing orders and credit transfers.

Who Can Apply for a Basic Bank Account in Europe?

Legal residents in any of the European Union member states can apply for a basic bank account. Other eligible applicants are asylum seekers, stateless persons, refugees, and those without residence permits but cannot be repatriated because of factual or legal justifications.

What is Needed to Open a Basic Payment Account?

In European countries, for any bank to open a basic payment account for a refugee, the following are important:

  • A valid identity card: This could be your international passport, national ID, or driver’s licence. Proof of arrival or registration certificate can also be accepted.
  • Personal data: You need to give the bank some personal data that they can use to create your account. Generally, they will need your name, date of birth, place of birth, residential address, permanent home address, and any other important data.
  • Identity verification: In most cases, the verification of your identity is a necessary procedure for opening an online account or payment card. This process is usually easy if you have the required documents. 

Which Obligations Does Your European Bank Have?

There are certain general responsibilities of EU banks to all their customers. A refugee from Ukraine can expect a bank in their host European country to:

  • Inform them about the acceptance status of their account application usually within ten days. In that way, they get to know whether their application was accepted or rejected.
  • Inform them about any fees, rates, and charges attached to their account, whether prior to opening the account or while using it.
  • Terminate their bank account if found to be non-compliant with money laundering legislation. The same is applicable to being guilty of financing terrorism.

Before You Choose a Bank

It is helpful to not ignore some factors when you are about to choose a bank in Europe. First, you need to ensure that the bank (branch) is not far from your place of residence. Second, find out whether there are automated teller machines near you because you do not want to have problems withdrawing cash. Lastly, it is important to see whether the fees are what you can afford. Otherwise, you might have to look for another bank with a favourable cost.

International Payment Services for Refugees from Ukraine

We would like for you to look at the following table. In it, we have compiled and compared top international digital payment services for Ukrainian refugees in Europe. They have digital accounts and payment cards but only a few have launched special offers to alleviate the financial pains of Ukrainians.
 

Top Payment Systems and Cards

(A-Z)

Offers free money transfers for Ukrainians now?

Additional information

ADVcash

n/a

Issues cards to only users registered in the EEA. You need to apply for refugee status immediately to use this option. Read more.

Azimo

Yes

Transfers to Ukraine are fee-free until 14th March 2022. Also, you can use it to wire money to PrivatBank in Ukraine. Read more.

Bankera

n/a

Issues cards to only users registered in the EEA. This option is suitable for registered refugees. Read more.

Binance

n/a

If interested in saving your financial asset in cryptocurrencies, this option offers over 600 cryptocurrencies.  Transferring savings into cryptocurrency may be a great option for refugees. A lot of Ukrainians are already buying more bitcoins on Binance to protect their financial assets, the news reports say.

Bunq

Yes

Recently introduced a free Easy Bank account (valid for 3 months) for Ukrainian citizens in the EEA. Read more.

ecoPayz

n/a

Users can have accounts in 2 to 10 currencies. In this case, you can receive transfers to your account from different countries. Read more.

Genome

n/a

You can receive money from overseas via its SWIFT and SEPA wire transfer services. It also offers multicurrency IBAN accounts in USD, EUR, and GBP that saves your money on foreign exchange.

Ibandirect

n/a

Offers a euro IBAN bank account and supports crypto. So, you can buy/sell to your IBAN account, pay for goods and services offline and online with its prepaid card. Alternatively, you can withdraw the cash from any ATM. Read more.

Mercuryo

n/a

Supports fiat and crypto transactions. Hence, you can convert your fiat money to any cryptocurrency to safeguard your investment.

MuchBetter

n/a

Offers a free MuchBetter Mastercard that you can use to make payments to merchants and withdraw cash from Mastercard-supported ATMs. Read more.

Neteller

n/a

Supports fiat and crypto transactions. Suitable for saving up your assets in cryptocurrency. Read more.

OFX

n/a

Accounts are for only those registered in the EEA. It also supports Rapid Money Transfers. So, you should apply for refugee status to start benefiting from this payment system. Read about OFX more.

Opal transfer

Yes

Recently introduced commission-free transfers to Ukrainian refugees. The transfers are delivered through PrivatBank Card.

Payally

n/a

Fast account creation: Individual and corporate payment accounts can be opened online in 5-7 and 15-20 minutes, respectively.

Payoneer

n/a

Offers personal IBAN, SEPA and SWIFT transfers. You can receive financial assistance from abroad with a Payoneer account. Read more.

Paysend

n/a

Offers a multicurrency account that can hold 2-8 currencies simultaneously. Read more.

Paysera

Yes

Eased the opening of accounts in the EU by removing all fees on transfers to Ukrainian users of the app. Readmore about Paysera features.

Profee

n/a

Offers zero-commission card-to-card transfers.

Skrill

n/a

Supports transactions in fiat and cryptocurrencies. You can use Skrill Money Transfer to wire money to an international bank account for free. Read more.

SticPay

n/a

Offers a prepaid STIC Card for online and offline payments, worldwide ATM withdrawals, and flight bookings. Read more.

TransferGo

n/a

Recently created a Ukraine Crisis Support Hub online. Read more about TransferGo.

Wirex

n/a

Allows you to send cryptocurrency payments quickly and easily anywhere in the world. It will be the only way to exchange payments with relatives from countries where most payment systems are blocked.

Wise

n/a

Allows users to make bank transfers and offers debit and credit cards. Read more.

ZEN

Yes

Now offers a multi-currency account that Ukrainians can open quickly and operate for free for 12 months. It is also running a Support Ukraine donation for the National Bank of Ukraine, Doctors Without Borders, and the Caritas Ukraine charitable organisations.

So, among the top payment systems for the European market, at the time of writing this guide, only Azimo, Bunq, Opal transfer, Paysera, and ZEN had publicly declared their charitable support programmes for Ukraine and the Ukrainian refugees in other countries in Europe.

Final Word

Today, Ukrainian refugees need a lot of assistance to settle at their new locations in Europe. Thankfully, some digital payment systems are financially supporting them. They are doing it through fee-free transfers, zero-commission payments, and support fundraising.

In this article, we have presented the accessible and free options for Ukrainians to open bank accounts and own cards for payments in Europe. We hope that with this information, Ukrainian refugees will find it easy to open bank accounts, obtain free payment cards, receive financial support from overseas, make purchases at online and physical stores, pay their bills, and feed themselves and their families. Above all, we look forward to seeing peace restored between Ukraine and Russia soon.