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

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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
17:07 CEST+02:00
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?

“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; 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 free basic current account (also referred to as a chequing account in North America or a Girokonto in Germany) and the Black Mastercard.

One of the major ways in which N26 stands out from traditional banks is that with a current account, cash withdrawals are for the most part free across Germany. No fees are charged when customers withdraw foreign currency abroad with their Mastercard. N26 bank accounts moreover 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, Klotz says.

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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