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What is the digital German bank N26 that’s about to hit a million customers?

Berlin-based bank N26 is growing rapidly. In just three years, almost one million customers across 17 European markets have signed up, according to the startup’s founder. But what makes it different from other banks?

What is the digital German bank N26 that’s about to hit a million customers?
A customer using the N26 app on a mobile phone. Photo: DPA/obs/N26 GmbH

“We are now approaching one million customers,” N26 founder Valentin Stalf told Tagesspiegel newspaper in an article published on Monday.

In March, the company announced it had acquired around 850,000 customers. Relatively new to the financial services sector, N26 entered the market in January 2015.

Headquartered in Berlin and offering its services throughout the eurozone, the German direct bank claims that they are Europe’s first mobile bank.

Set apart from conventional banks, N26 doesn't have any physical branches, meaning its customers only have the option of doing their banking online via an app. 

Founder of N26 Valentin Stalf. Photo: DPA

Among the most popular products N26 offers are the basic current account (also referred to as a chequing account in North America or a Girokonto in Germany) and the premium Black account.

One of the major ways in which the digital bank stands out from traditional ones is that it offers its customers free cash withdrawals from most ATMs across Germany.

Moreover, no fees are charged when customers withdraw foreign currency abroad with their Black or Metal Mastercard. And all N26 products include foreign currency transfers.

“They’re going in a totally different direction than other banks,” Maik Klotz, a senior consultant in the payment and banking sector, tells The Local.

Whereas traditional German banks are bad when it comes to handling and operation, N26 as a product is “simple, easy to use and tech-driven,” Klotz says, adding that “smartphone users, millennials and digital natives” are the company’s target audience.

Despite a few other potential fintech competitors with N26 at the moment, “there’s no other bank in Germany today that’s comparable.”

The only downside with the mobile bank is that it doesn’t have any physical branches for customers looking to speak with someone in person, according to the consultant.

Klotz adds that when it comes to the issue of security, “it’s not more unsafe than other banks.”

N26 has plans to enter the UK and the US this year.

With DPA

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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