N26 begins its launch in the United States

12 Jul 2019

Image: © navintar/Stock.adobe.com

N26’s New York office has been open for some time, and the team of 50 staff members working there have spent the last few months gaining insight on the US market and consumers.

N26 finally launched in the United States this week, with a staged roll-out for 100,000 customers.

The German direct bank, which was founded in 2013, announced plans to expand to the US back in November 2018, before later announcing that the company also planned to launch in Brazil.

N26’s launch in the US initially opens to the 100,000 individuals who signed up to a waitlist. In a press release, N26 said it will initiate a full public launch later this summer.

N26 said, “Between today’s beta launch and a full public launch later this summer, people on the waitlist will continuously be invited to get access to the N26 app. Over the summer, we will also launch additional perks and shortly thereafter we will introduce Metal, our premium tier account, to our US customers.”

Yesterday (11 July), N26 CEO Valentin Stalf said: “The US launch is a major milestone for N26 to change banking globally and reach more than 50m customers in the coming years.

“We know that millions of people around the world and particularly in the US are still paying hidden and exorbitant fees and are frustrated by poor banking experiences. N26 will radically change the way Americans bank as it has done for so many people through Europe.”

Different to European operation

N26’s New York office has been open for some time. The team of 50 staff members working there have spent the last few months gaining insight on the US market and consumers.

The initial US product includes a Visa debit card and a N26 account via Axos Bank, a federally regulated and FDIC-insured bank. This is different to how N26 works in Europe, where it has a full-fledged banking licence in some countries, but Axos Bank will manage money belonging to customers using N26 while N26 will serve as the interface between customers and the bank.

N26 does not appear to have plans to apply for an American banking licence any time soon, as it is complicated to do so in all 50 states. Additionally, the cost of working with a third-party bank (such as Axos Bank) is much lower in the US than it was for the company in Europe. Stalf told TechCrunch, “It’s a setup for the longer term. It’s good for a couple million customers.”

Similar to the European service, customers will be allowed to set daily spending limits and lock and unlock their cards through the app.

N26 said that during the beta phase, it will waive its ATM withdrawal fees, but the company cannot guarantee that the ATM operator won’t charge customers. The company plans to reimburse customers who are affected by this before the full public launch. Once the product launches publicly, N26 will make the first two ATM withdrawals each month free, then charge $2 for each withdrawal thereafter.

At present, N26 employs over 1,300 employees across five locations: Berlin, New York, Barcelona, Vienna and São Paulo.

The news of N26’s launch in the US arrived on the same day that rival mobile bank Revolut announced its plans to open a tech hub in N26’s home city, Berlin. Revolut’s new hub will create 80 new jobs for the company and will be located on Friedrichstraße, an existing fintech ecosystem in Berlin and one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic