Number26 – the real time banking account is about to launch soon

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While many other FinTech options offer an overview of your accounts, your spendings or work on peer-2-peer payment solutions, Number26 has a different goal and rethinks debit bank accounts to offer an all-in-one solution.

To understand where Number26 is coming from, we have to look at the German banking system as we know it right now.

Depending on where customers use an ATM, they will not be charged at all (by their own or partner banks) or up to €5 (on independent or other banks’ ATMs). Some online banks already figured out how to walk around this system, but traditional banks haven’t. Also, traditional banks do offer online banking, but haven’t managed to come up with a good banking app yet.

An easier solution

Number26 tries to get into that space and wants to improve banking by offering real time overview and actions over its app and website to make banking easier in general.

While customers usually have to go to a bank to open their account in person (or have to go through an identification process in the post office), this issue will be solved by a video call verification, where new customers show themselves and their ID. Instead of taking days, opening an account will then take less than 15 minutes.

This method is useful when the startup decides to roll out through all of Europe.

Besides receiving a push notification every time a MasterCard – that works like a debit card – is used, the customer can also cancel and reactivate his/her card in real time (in case of finding it again). That works within the app. So instead of calling a hotline and canceling the card you don’t remember the number of, users can cancel within a swipe or web interface.

Other tasks such as unlocking a card to use outside the country that typically have to be done by calling a bank are also moved into the app.

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Features

Number26 claims to also categorize your spending. This idea is not entirely new, and with a lot of cafés and small shops only accepting cash in Germany, it won’t give customer a full overview, but it surely shows directions in where most of your spendings take place.

Business model

While the plastic card, the bank account and the ATM usage is for free, the customer will not receive any interest. As these range between 0 – max. 1 % in Germany, it is compared to the basic charge of many banks a deal worth thinking about. Besides that, Number26 will earn a small percentage every time the card is used.

Background

The startup started out with the name “Papayer” and the idea was to have a prepaid credit card for children that parents can overview. When figuring out that it was mainly used by adults who didn’t own a credit card to book flights or travel, the team of 15 people pivoted.

After taking part and receiving an investment from the Axel Springer Plug & Play Accelerator, the two founders Maximilian Tayental and Valentin Stalf raised a $2 million seed round by Early Bird, Redalpine and Business Angels in June 2014.

Competition

“left”] The idea is not entirely new. New York’s Moven does something similar just as the startup  simple which was acquired by BBVA in February 2014 for $117 Million.

Besides apps, direct banks are Number26’s strongest competitor. However, with features like managing a saving plan or transferring money to friends through the app, it seems the startup has a good roadmap and plan ahead.

As so often it can be said, startups have a much stronger focus on design and usability than corporate institutions that try to bring their website to an app and don’t understand the importance of UX and extra functions. However, finance is a sensitive topic that builds on trust. If an unknown startup can raise that trust will be found out when Number26 launches later this fall. By then an English version will be available too.

Images: number26, Some right reserved by JD Hancock