Thiel-backed fin­tech N26 take on US

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

BER­LIN: N26 GmbH, the Ger­man bank­ing app that’s backed by bil­lion­aires Peter Thiel and Li Ka-shing, has raised new funds at a val­u­a­tion of US$2.7bil, mak­ing the com­pany one of Europe’s most valu­able non-listed fin­tech star­tups.

N26 re­ceived US$300mil from In­sight Ven­ture Part­ners, Sin­ga­pore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and sev­eral ex­ist­ing in­vestors, the Ber­lin-based com­pany said.

It’s new val­u­a­tion puts it ahead of ri­val Revo­lut Ltd val­ued last year at US$1.7bil, and Swedish pay­ment firm Klarna Bank AB, which was val­ued at US$2.5bil in 2015.

N26 is among a grow­ing num­ber of fin­techs that fo­cus on putting ser­vices on smart­phones to grab cus­tomers from tra­di­tional banks.

The lat­est fund­ing will arm N26 with cash for its most am­bi­tious plan yet – a push into the United States to snatch clients from the likes of JP Mor­gan Chase & Co and Bank of Amer­ica Corp.

The Ger­man com­pany is en­ter­ing an in­creas­ingly crowded mar­ket for on­line-only banks in the United States.

Large, tra­di­tional banks such as JPMor­gan and Cit­i­group Inc have touted new mo­bile-only bank­ing ef­forts as a way to com­bat sim­i­lar of­fer­ings from star­tups.

“In­sight Ven­ture and GIC are great part­ners to take on re­tail bank­ing in the United States,” N26 chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Valentin Stalf said in an in­ter­view.

“We’re con­fi­dent we can reach the first mil­lion cus­tomers in the United States within the first 12 to 24 months.”

N26 said it has more than 2.3 mil­lion cus­tomers across 24 mar­kets in Europe and claims to be one of the re­gion’s fastest grow­ing banks. It ex­panded into the UK, Den­mark, Nor­way, Poland and Swe­den last year and has in the past tar­geted to win five mil­lion cus­tomers by the end of 2020.

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