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Number26, a Peter Thiel-backed mobile banking startup that’s setting out to create the bank account of the future, has finally received its banking license, giving the company full regulatory approval to operate across the European Union under its own steam. The company has also announced that it’s changing its name to N26.
Founded out of Berlin, Germany in 2013 by Maximilian Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf, N26 offers “mobile-first” bank accounts, similar to those offered by BankMobile or Simple in the U.S., that can be opened within eight minutes of applying. Originally only available in Germany and Austria, the service later expanded across the EU into six more markets and today counts more than 200,000 users.
The company has only been able to operate thus far due to its partnership with Germany-based financial services company Wirecard, which has its own banking license and is regulated in Germany.
The new company structure runs roughly like this: The over-arching “N26 Group” comprises “Number26 GmbH” and its fully owned subsidiary “N26 Bank GmbH.” The latter is what gained the German banking license that enables the company to operate across the European Union. From a branding perspective, the company will simply go under the name “N26.”
Now that N26 has its own banking license, issued by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and the European Central Bank, the company has more freedom to operate off its own volition and “improve the underlying structure and technology” across the banking spectrum. “The license will enable us to bring additional innovative products to market, starting in the next few weeks,” explained Markus Gunter, CEO of the new N26 Bank operation.
“This banking license is an important additional step for us to sustainably change the value chain in retail banking,” added Valentin Stalf, cofounder and CEO of N26. “This will allow us to significantly enhance the diversity of our product portfolio. For our customers, that means access to the best financial products, right on the app.”
N26 has raised more than $50 million to date, including a $40 million round just last month. In an interview with VentureBeat last year, cofounder and CFO Tayenthal noted that the company would enter verticals beyond checking accounts through partnering with fintech startups. N26 followed through on that goal by teaming up with TransferWise to give customers in-app access to a cheap international money transfer service.
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