Dutch neobank Bunq is the latest fintech to bank on Irish customers

4 May 2022

Image: Bunq

Headquartered in Amsterdam, Bunq is now offering Irish IBANs to customers at a time of upheaval in Ireland’s banking sector.

With Ulster Bank and KBC Bank, two of Ireland’s pillar financial institutions, set to leave the Irish market this year, more than a million customers are going to be looking for banking alternatives. Sweeping in to fill this void are a host of European neobanks, hoping to change the way Irish people do their banking forever.

Dutch fintech Bunq is one such neobank, now targeting the Irish market with the launch of an Irish international bank account number, or IBAN.

While Bunq has been available to Irish users for a while now, it previously used a Dutch IBAN – meaning that some facilities may not have been possible for Irish users.

Now, Bunq customers in Ireland will be able to use its local presence to set up direct debits, make payments and receive salaries. Available through the Bunq app on Android and iOS, the service aims to enhance a customer’s control over their finances and payments.

Gerlad Gruber, COO of Bunq, said he is very excited that the fintech is strengthening its position in Ireland.

“By offering an extensive range of financial products and services, Irish people can now finally experience the true value of fintech as an alternative to traditional banking,” Gruber said.

Ireland and neobanks

Ireland is no stranger to neobanks. UK-based fintech Revolut counts the country as one of its most active markets and recently started rolling out its European banking services in Ireland. Berlin-based fintech N26 has also been sinking its teeth into the Irish market in recent years.

This has led to fears among Ireland’s traditional banks that new players could cut into their market share and entice younger users who may be drawn more to digital-first services rather than reputation or security.

Last year, four of Ireland’s pillar banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and KBC Ireland – teamed up on a new digital payment system to take on fintech challengers such as Revolut and N26. The joint venture was named Synch Payments.

In December, however, Synch Payments faced a stumbling block when Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission launched an in-depth investigation to see if the plans “could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the State”.

Bunq will now likely be hoping to take on Revolut and N26 as the fintechs eye customers departing Ulster Bank and KBC Ireland. But while it may not be as well-known as the latter two in the Irish market, Bunq may have an edge as the first in Ireland to provide a local IBAN.

Bunq was founded in 2012 by Ali Niknam and is headquartered in Amsterdam. Last July, it secured the largest Series A round for a European fintech company, bringing its valuation to unicorn status at €1.6bn.

As part of the deal, Bunq snapped up Irish company Capitalflow from Pollen Street Capital for €141m.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic