European financial startup N26 is looking to introduce its no-hassle digital banking service to customers overseas. The Berlin-based app has already attracted a formidable customer base in Europe, gaining around 200,000 new customers between March and August of this year. The app’s user count totaled around 500,000 as of August, and that figure may multiply quickly, if N26 can manage to penetrate the US market.
Valentin Stalf, co-founder and CEO of N26, announced at October’s Money2020 conference that his company’s service will debut on American soil by mid-2018. He noted that N26 has already begun establishing its New York headquarters, an initiative seemingly fueled by Stalf’s confidence in his service and its ability to draw US users. “We’ve looked at the U.S. and we figured out that most of the banking products in the U.S. are even worse than in Europe,” Stalf said. N26 currently serves customers across Europe, with its largest markets located in Austria, France, Spain, Italy, and its birthplace, Germany.
Founded in 2015, N26 aims to grant users ultimate power over their finances. The service allows customers to open a digital bank account through a process that takes around 8 minutes. Once enrolled, customers receive a MasterCard to be used anywhere the world. N26 offers numerous perks beyond the ability to bank anywhere, however, such as customizable overdraft, in-app control over which MasterCard features are enabled, and the option to receive push notifications whenever account activity occurs.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of banking with N26 is its cost–there is none. Opening and maintaining an account is free, and no foreign transaction fees are ever charged. For its European customers, N26 also allows five free withdrawals (in Euro) every month. In addition, the company does offer a premium “Black” service–with features including mobile theft protection, travel insurance and a Black MasterCard–at a price of €5.90 ($7.00) per month.
The company’s old European banking partner was online financial service provider Wirecard; the partnership equipped N26 with the necessary authorization to operate, until N26 acquired its own EU banking license in July of 2016. This year, N26 looks to similarly expedite its US business by again seeking partnership with a third-party accredited banking service.
In the months leading up to the app’s US release, N26 plans to devote attention fine-tuning its user-facing features, and giving American customers exactly what they expect from a top-tier financial tool. In Germany, the company has already started to launch additional services such as credit lines, savings accounts, and insurance products; N26 plans to eventually offer similar programs in the US.