N26 – The Startup Becomes Europe’s Most Valuable Challenger Bank. What’s Next?

From an idea born on a living room couch, to 2.3 million customers this year, N26 is breaking some records. With its current valuation of €2.4 billion, N26 is overtaking Revolut as Europe’s most valuable mobile bank. We interviewed the founder and CEO of N26, Valentin Stalf, who told us why he thinks the traditional banking industry
needs to be transformed. I think the traditional banking industry
faces a couple of big challenges: One is, they have to transform their workforce from non-digital to digital. Which is, I think, one of the hardest things. When you need to get the best developers, the best designers to produce the best digital products and there banks are really short. The second thing is, banks and also what people expect from banks has completely transformed. So it’s not only transforming the workforce, but it’s also what people expect. So 10 years ago, you did banking via telephone on the telephone line, or physically in a bank branch, today you can do everything on the smart phone. So the industry has completely changed and these two things together, transforming the workforce and at the same time, transforming
the offering, is really hard. In just one year, N26 managed to triple its customer base, expand to 7 new markets, and was named as the number one startup to work for in Germany. Valentin told us about the future plans. So this year we really focus on a couple of things. One is obviously the rollout to the US, then we have a strong, focus to
make our existing product better. We have just started the rebranding, we’ve changed our logo a little bit, we’ve changed the colors, we’ll have a remake of the app
in the next two quarters to come And also on a couple of
functionalities that we already have. We’ll make them clearer and more visible to customers so that’s I think the the near-term focus that we are setting and then, I think going forward we try to solve more problems. We’ve worked on a couple of things like contract management in the background, We work on sharing accounts which is something that’s coming in the next couple of weeks So there’s a couple of exciting things. Currently, N26 only offers business
accounts for freelancers, but plans to open them also for SMEs later this year. So I think we have the most complete offering on the European market. We’re today a clear market leader in almost all the markets that we’re in. It’s 24 markets all together in Europe, we’ve just recently entered the UK where there’s a little bit more competition, but I think from the user experience, we have been the first on the market, I think we’re the leader in terms of
how our app feels and looks also the functionality, so you can you get a full bank account, you can do everything from standing orders to sending money to friends with a click, so I think the completeness of the product, the usability, and also the unique
brand that we have built, I think, is a clear differentiation to competition, but in the end it’s not about other challenger banks. It’s about that 30-50 million for example, in the UK that still bank with the old banks. And getting them over I think that’s what it is it’s a better bank experience, saving fees and that’s what we should focus on. FinTech has become especially prevalent since the financial crisis. The ubiquity of smartphones is removing the need for a physical presence, particularly for younger generations. Yet although FinTech has seen a rise in popularity, European FinTech startups are appearing
at a much slower pace. I think we have too little great teams on the market. I think there needs to be more
people starting as an entrepreneur, and not working for the big corporates and I think there’s still too little talent going into startups. I think we have great teams
as well, but I think the problem is not the money, the money is there, if you have a great product if
you solve a customer problem, if you have a lot of customers signing up and you have a good business model, then you will also get financed. So I think it’s more about the teams and the talent. So I would encourage a lot of people to instead of starting working in a big bank or in Consulting or Investment Banking, Really you know, go into the startup scene. Try it out, maybe your salary in the
beginning is a little bit lower, but in the long run, it’s going to be much more exciting, much more rewarding and in the end, you will also earn more money. N26 currently has more than 700 employees in offices in Berlin, Barcelona and New York. Although N26 is the best-funded FinTech in Europe, only time will tell whether it will also strive in the US.

9 thoughts on “N26 – The Startup Becomes Europe’s Most Valuable Challenger Bank. What’s Next?

  1. Mine arrived last month. Now paying close to £15/month and I'm simply not able to use half the benefits. Airport lounges refuse to accept and my insurance just isn't valid!

  2. Looks cool so far. Can't wait to receive my card. They have a refer a friend and get £10 promo. My code is: belag8450

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