European mobile bank N26 makes first move into UK market

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European bank N26 is making its first foray into the UK on Thursday, as it becomes the latest foreign lender to enter Britain’s digital banking space in recent weeks.

The Berlin-headquartered mobile bank will initially be available to “friends and family” of N26 staff before rolling out to a UK waiting list that the company says is 50,000-strong.

The full public launch is set for November.

The company is currently set to operate under its European banking licence, but could seek a UK licence down the line depending on the outcome of Brexit.

“We have a German banking licence currently. If there comes a point at which that is not sufficient, we would do everything required of us to ensure we are still authorised to operate in the market,” a spokesman said.

While the bulk of its UK operations will be managed from continental Europe, where N26 employs around 500 staff, it has 10 staff who will split their time between London and Berlin.

Its local team is expected to expand as UK services grow.

N26 chief executive and co-founder Valentin Stalf said: “The UK is one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world.

“At N26, we have redesigned banking for the digital age and as a result we’re the fastest growing mobile bank in all European markets we operate in.

“Backed by our state-of-the-art technology stack and an intuitive, user-centric design, today’s launch is the first step towards delivering the best digital banking experience possible for UK customers.”

N26 is the latest digital bank to enter the British marketplace and follows close on the heels of the much-anticipated launch of the Marcus by Goldman Sachs savings account last month.

Marcus made headlines in recent weeks for offering a market-busting interest rate of 1.5%, though it is not offering a current account.

Its Austrian founders first launched N26 in 2015, with the mobile bank now boasting more than 1.5 million customers.

The lender – which is backed by investors including Tencent, Allianz X and Earlybird Ventures – is now looking to launch in the US in the first half of 2019.

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