Venture

Aiming For The U.S. Market, FinTech Startup N26 Raises $160 Million From Tencent & Others

Berlin-based financial technology company N26 raised $160 million in a Series C round led by China-based Tencent Holdings and Allianz X, announced today. According to the company, it represents the largest financing round in the German FinTech industry to date. And it intends to use that money to bolster its international presence, with sights set on the U.S. market.

N26 was founded in 2013 with the goal to solve the inadequacies of banking in Europe with its free MasterCard debit cards, free checking accounts, and a millennial-focused mobile-centric user experience.

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According to Crunchbase data, the company previously raised $40 million in its Series B round in 2016 led by Horizon Ventures. Prior to that round, Valar Ventures, which participated in its Series B, also led its $10.6 million Series A in 2015. N26 noted that its Series C brings its total funds raised since inception to $215 million.

Let The Money Roll

According to its funding announcement, N26 has acquired more than 850,000 customers, and it aims to reach 5 million users by the end of 2020. Those customers have “processed over 9 billion Euros in transaction volume to date with projected volume of more than 13 billion Euros in 2018.”

N26 initially launched in Germany and Australia, but it expanded to France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, and Spain in 2015. It also plans to launch in the U.S. and U.K. in 2018. The company is allowing early access for its service on it’s U.S. website, and it has already hired staff in New York.

A spokesperson said that the company’s “plan is to build a seamless in-app ecosystem that provides a full range of financial services (through our own offerings and partnerships with other fintechs and traditional players.)”

According to the company, this fresh funding will go toward domestic growth and expansion abroad. N26 also intends to build out AI-enabled features that respond to consumer spending behaviors.

“Let’s say an N26 user purchases a flight with his card. The app would recognize this and e.g. make a recommendation to buy travel insurance and offer different options,” spokesperson Nic Klopp told Crunchbase News in an email.

Crunchbase News has reported on the growing FinTech industry in the past, and fee-free debit cards aren’t necessarily a new concept in the space. But CEO Valentin Stalf posits that the company will be filling a gap in the U.S. market.

“We’ve looked at the products in the U.S. and we figured out that most of the banking products [there] are even worse than in Europe,” he told TechCrunch in January.

According to its previous press release, the company will also offer U.S.-specific features, like a rewards program, for its credit card.

Tencent’s support is also certainly an advantage in its expansion. The deep-pocketed Chinese powerhouse is quite experienced with mobile apps and payment systems. Its Tenpay system operates as the base of the payment system on its social networking super app WeChat which, along with Alibaba-founded Alipay, shapes the payment ecosystem in China. A backing from Tencent could pave the way for N26’s global mobile banking success.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias