N26, a mobile-first bank available in Europe, has announced plans to launch in the U.S. next year, representing the first non-EU market for the company.
Founded out of Berlin in 2013 originally as Number26, N26 offers online-only bank accounts through Android and iOS apps, with a focus on speed and efficiency — an account can be opened within eight minutes of applying. The service has slowly been expanding across the Eurozone since its initial rollout in Germany and Austria, and now claims 500,000 customers in 17 countries including France, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.
N26 has raised more than $50 million since its inception, with participation from notable backers such as Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, which led its series A round back in 2015 and joined again for the $40 million series B follow-up in June 2016.
Speaking at the Money2020 Conference in Las Vegas today, cofounder and CEO Valentin Stalf said that interested customers can sign up to join the waiting list from today, though they won’t be able to open an account until the middle of 2018.
“We believe that N26 is a role model for the bank of the future,” said Stalf. “Customers around the globe are looking for a new banking experience, as user behavior among millennials has shifted dramatically towards a mobile experience. The U.S. is an exciting new market which offers a huge opportunity for N26.”
N26 is a similar proposition to other services already offered in the U.S., such as Simple, which was acquired by Spain’s BBVA back in 2014. For launch, N26 will offer a mobile-focused checking account similar to what it offers in Europe already, which will include a bank card, money transfers, cash withdrawals, and other features “tailored to the U.S. market,” such as a customer reward program.
Though N26 started life as a simple online bank, it has a long-term goal of creating a modern bank constructed from various fintech technologies and services that have emerged during the internet age. Last year, for example, N26 partnered with peer-to–peer money-transfer firm TransferWise, giving Number26 customers access to cheap international money transfer tools, while it later went on to launch a new investment product in conjunction with Vaamo and a savings account in partnership with Raisin. And a few months back, N26 added insurance to its bag of tricks courtesy of a tie-up with German insurance platform Clark.
N26 will likely have to ink separate partnerships for the U.S. market, but the company will follow a similar model to its European operations — it ultimately wants to build a “FinTech hub” and become a “one-stop shop for all its customers’ financial needs,” the company added.
Headquartered in Berlin, N26 currently claims 290 employees, but it will have to ramp up its operations considerably to tackle the U.S. when it finally launches. For now, the company has revealed that it will operate as N26 Inc. in the U.S., and will be based in New York. Additionally, to save it from having to acquire its own banking licence, it will work in conjunction with a hitherto undisclosed partner bank to offer its service.