If you don’t like your current bank, Number26 is here for you. The German startup has been trying to reinvent the average banking experience in Germany and Austria. It is now expanding to six new European countries — France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia and Spain.
Anybody who lives in one of these countries can now open a bank account in 8 minutes by downloading the iOS or Android app. I tried opening an account and it was pretty accurate. I didn’t have to leave my home, or send any document. Instead, you just need to make a video phone call and show your passport to a representative.
After that, you can transfer money to your bank account and you’ll receive a MasterCard. Number26’s banking partner (Wirecard Bank) actually holds the money and holds a German banking license — your money is safe.
But why do you need another bank account? There are many nifty features that make the overall experience much better. You can set up push notifications for everything. For instance, every time you use your Number26 card, you can receive a push notification to make sure that the transaction was approved and there is no fraudulent use. In my experience, you receive a notification when your card is still in the card reader — it’s that fast.
You can temporarily disable features on your MasterCard. For instance, you can block online payments or ATM use in just one tap.
But the best part is that Number26 doesn’t make money from fees. Opening and maintaining an account is free — Number26 already makes money from MasterCard’s cut on every transaction. Even better, there is no foreign transaction fee. You can travel to the U.S. and pay everything with your Number26 card — you’ll pay the exact amount without any additional fee.
Finally, Number26 is working on innovative features. For instance, you can now withdraw and deposit cash in thousands of grocery stores in Germany. The company also recently enabledcustomizable overdraft.
Number26 is available in German and English but the company will launch apps and websites in all languages in the coming months. Your account will be based in Germany (you get a German IBAN), but it doesn’t matter if you live in the Eurozone.
“We wanted to be present in the main European economies,” co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf told me. “Furthermore, we had a look at the different banking products all over Europe and found out that they are the worst in France, Italy and Spain — besides being ridiculously expensive.”
Ireland is a good intermediate step before expanding to the U.K. “We will offer multi currency support later next year and then expand to more countries,” Stalf said. The company already has 80,000 clients after launching less than a year ago in Germany and Austria.
Number26 wants to act as a fintech hub, integrating other financial products into its app. The company would like to provide credit, saving and insurance products in each of these countries. This is no small feat, but Number26 could become an essential banking gateway as it adds more features.
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