fintech

N26 launches its challenger bank in the US

Posted by | challenger bank, Europe, fintech, Mobile, N26, Startups, TC | No Comments

European fintech startup N26 is now accepting customers in the U.S. The company is launching a bank account with a debit card that should provide a better experience compared to traditional retail banks.

If you’re familiar with N26, the product that is going live today won’t surprise you much. Customers in the U.S. can download a mobile app and create a bank account from their phone in just a few minutes. It’s a true bank account with ACH payments, routing and account numbers.

A few days later, you receive a debit card that you can control from the mobile app. Every time you make a transaction, you instantly receive a push notification telling you how much money you just paid. You can set up your PIN code, customize limits, turn on and off online payments, and make ATM withdrawals or payments abroad.

And that’s about all there is to know. But what about fees? Basic N26 accounts are free. There’s no monthly fee and no minimum balance. There’s no fee on transactions in a foreign currency and you get two free ATM withdrawals per month.

N26 US App and Card

N26 is going to progressively roll out signups over the summer as a sort of beta program. If you’ve signed up to the waitlist, you’ll get an invitation over the coming hours, days and weeks. There are currently 100,000 people on the waitlist. N26 will then open signups to everyone later this summer.

When N26 rolls out its final product in a couple of months, the company says that it plans to automatically find and reimburse fees the ATM operators are charging. N26 cards in the U.S. work on the Visa network instead of Mastercard.

Just like Chime, N26 will also try to let you get paid up to two days early if you get paid via direct deposit. Instead of waiting a couple of days to clear those transactions, N26 will go ahead and top up your account.

N26 US 2

White label

Behind the scenes, there are a few differences between N26 in Europe and N26 in the U.S. While N26 has a full-fledged banking license in Europe, the company has partnered with Axos Bank, which is acting as a white-label partner in the U.S.

Axos Bank essentially manages your money for you, and N26 acts as the interface between customers and their bank accounts. As a result, you get an FDIC-insured account.

N26 first partnered with a third-party company in Europe, as well. But it was a costly deal that wasn’t meant to stick around. The startup got a banking license in Germany that was good for Europe at large. In the U.S., it’s a different story, as the market is not as unified as in Europe — it’s complicated to get a license to operate in all 50 states.

“We looked at 30 players, we did some due diligence and we’re happy to partner with Axos Bank. The deals that you get in the U.S. for white-label banks are much more favorable than in Europe,” N26 co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf told me. “It’s a setup for the longer term. It’s good for a couple million customers,” Stalf added later in the conversation.

Just a start

N26 is already planning more features for the U.S. The company plans to roll out two premium plans — N26 Metal and then N26 Black.

And it sounds like there will be some changes when it comes to perks for premium users. “We took that to a separate level,” Stalf said.

And shared Spaces are finally arriving in the coming months. Spaces are sub-accounts designed to put money aside. You can swipe money from one Space to another or you can set up automated rules.

Eventually, you’ll be able to share a Space with other people so that you can save money and spend money together. It’ll work “like a WhatsApp group,” Stalf said.

N26 currently has 3.5 million customers in Europe and has raised more than $500 million in total so far. There are now a thousand people working for N26 in Berlin, 60 employees in New York, 80 people in Barcelona and a small team of five to 10 people starting soon in Vienna.

“It went from being a small company to being an international company,” Stalf said.

N26 Spaces ENUS

Powered by WPeMatico

Bunq lets you track and settle up group expenses

Posted by | Bunq, challenger bank, Europe, fintech, Mobile, Startups | No Comments

Fintech startup Bunq is announcing a handful of new features today, such as a way to track group expenses without creating a joint account, a web app and better Siri integration.

If you usually track vacation expenses and group expenses from your phone, chances are you’ve been using two different products — a mobile app like Splitwise to track group expenses with your friends, and a peer-to-peer payment app to settle up balances.

Bunq is essentially bundling these two features with Slice Groups for owners of the Bunq Travel Card. Given that the Bunq app already lists all your transactions, adding transactions to a group is easier than with your average group payment tracking app.

After adding other people to your Slice Group, each person can add expenses to the group. You get a list of your most recent Bunq transactions and you can add them to a group. You also can add manual transactions in case you paid for something using cash, for instance.

This is just a group accounting feature. When you add a transaction to a Slice Group, your money remains in your account. But you can see who has a positive balance and who has a negative balance.

When you settle up a group, people who owe money get a push notification. They can then tap on the notification and send money from their Bunq account to your friends’ Bunq accounts.

This feature will work particularly well for groups of people who all use the Bunq Travel Card. But it doesn’t fundamentally change how you manage your money with groups.

Bunq now has two tiers of users. Free users get a travel card with an account that they can top up. Paid users get a full-fledged bank account with banking information.

Multiple paid users can already create joint accounts with their roommates or partner. You can then associate your Bunq card with a joint account and spend money from that joint account directly.

So if you have a Bunq Travel Card, Slice Groups are for you. If you have a Bunq bank account, joint accounts are for you.

Revolut doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, either, as you can only split individual card transactions with other users. It could take a while to settle all transactions after a long vacation. Revolut also lets you create Group Vaults. Those are sub-accounts to put some money aside and invite other people to contribute. But only the admin can withdraw and spend money from those vaults.

N26 has promised Shared Spaces so that you can create sub-accounts and share them with other people. But the feature isn’t live yet.

Lydia’s take on group expenses works more like Bunq’s joint accounts. You can create sub-accounts and share those accounts with other people. Everyone can then top up that account and attach a payment method, such as a payment card or a virtual card in Apple Pay or Google Pay. You also can move expenses from one sub-account to another. When you’re back from vacation, you can associate your card with your personal Lydia account again.

In addition to Slice Groups, Bunq is launching a web interface to access your bank account. It works a bit like WhatsApp’s web app. You scan a QR code with your phone and you can then control the mobile app from a desktop web browser.

Bunq should also work better with Siri. You can now send money using your voice or change card settings. Finally, the startup has also made improvements to its business accounts with a few new features. For instance, you can now automatically put money aside to pay back VAT later down the road.

bunq update 11

Powered by WPeMatico

Revolut is ready to launch in Singapore and Japan

Posted by | Apps, Europe, fintech, Mobile, Revolut, Startups | No Comments

Fintech startup Revolut has been teasing Asian market expansions for more than a year, but it sounds like it might finally happen. The company has secured licenses to operate in Singapore and Japan. It now expects to launch its service in Q1 2019.

In Singapore, the company was granted a Remittance License by the Monetary Authority and a Stored Value Facility approval — these two things combined let Revolut users hold money as well as send and spend money. In Japan, the company has been authorized to operate by Japan’s Finance Service Agency.

According to Revolut, those approvals are enough to launch the service in those countries. But not all features will make their way to Singapore and Japan. Regulation varies from one country to another, so the company might not be able to provide the same limits and feature set everywhere.

At launch, Revolut will focus on the electronic wallet and the payment card. You won’t be able to buy cryptocurrencies, create business accounts and more. Limits should be more or less the same in local currency equivalent.

In Japan, Revolut says it has already signed deals with Rakuten, Sompo Japan Insurance (SJNK) and Toppan. It sounds like there will be new insurance products, special card designs and more.

Revolut plans to open its APAC office in Singapore. Let’s see if Revolut ends up convincing expats to sign up or if they can have a real impact outside of Europe.

And if you’re a potential user in the U.S. or Canada, you’ll have to wait a bit more. Revolut says there will be more news in the coming weeks.

Powered by WPeMatico

DFS Lab is helping the developing world bootstrap itself with fintech

Posted by | accelerator, africa, Banking, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Finance, fintech, funding, Gates Foundation, incubator, Mobile | No Comments

Entrepreneurs have it rough in Africa, India, Pakistan — places where VC cash doesn’t fall from the sky and necessary infrastructure like reliable banking and broadband can be hard to come by. But companies grow and thrive nevertheless in these rugged environments, and DFS Lab is an incubator focused on connecting them with the resources they need to go global.

The company was founded, and funded, on the back of a $4.8 million grant from the Gates Foundation, which of course is deeply concerned with tech-based solutions for well-being all over the world. Its name, Digital Financial Services Lab, indicates its area of focus: fintech. And anyone can tell you that sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most interesting places in the world for that.

This week DFS Lab is announcing a handful of new investments — modest ones on the scale companies are used to in Silicon Valley, but the money is only a small part of the equation. Investment comes at the end of a longer process, the most valuable of which may be the week-long sprint DFS Lab does on the ground, helping solidify ideas into products, or niche products into products at scale.

The relative lack of VCs and angel investors puts early-stage companies at risk and can discourage the most motivated entrepreneur, so the program is aimed at getting them over the hump and connected to a network of peers.

The latest round puts a total of $200,000 into four startups, each touching on a different aspect of a region or vertical’s financial needs. All, however, are largely driven by the massive growth of mobile money in Africa over the last decade and the more recent, ongoing transition to modern smartphones and the app/data landscape familiar to the U.S. and Europe.

  • Nala aims to move p2p payments away from the antiquated but widely used USSD system (more on this later) to a Venmo-like app interface that integrates multiple native mobile currencies like M-Pesa into a single tool.
  • Cherehani connects female entrepreneurs with financial resources; the idea is to provide both much-needed credit and financial literacy at as early an age as possible. (They have a chatbot too, naturally.)
  • Nobuntu is a platform through which South Africans can open and contribute to pension plans via mobile money, simply and with low overhead costs.

The fourth company is choosing to remain in stealth mode for now, but you see the general theme here.

For one reason or another there are major gaps in everyday services that many of us take for granted — the ability to prove one’s identity, for example, is critical but commonly absent. I talked with Paul Damalie, founder of a DFS-funded company called Inclusive that helps address that particular shortcoming.

Basic ID verification can be difficult when you remove many of the things we take for granted. So when, for example, someone wanted to get a loan, a savings account, or some other basic financial service, “Originally you’d have to literally walk into the bank to do it,” Damalie said. Needless to say that isn’t always convenient, and banks as well as users want better options.

“We’ve been collecting existing databases and building a layer of rich access around it,” he continued. “Now we can use facial recognition to check those details. Once you have the ID, you need to check it with the government records” — which Inclusive also does. A range of other data creates a confidence score in the person’s identity, helping avoid identity fraud.

Another opportunity arises not from these gaps but from the unique ways in which the African ecosystem has evolved. USSD, which I mentioned before, is probably unknown to many of our readers — it certainly was to me. But it’s become a standard tool used regularly by millions for important tasks in Africa; if you want to work in that market, you have to deal with USSD one way or another.

The problem is that, as you might guess from Nala trying to deprecate it, USSD is a technology dating back to the ’90s, a text-based interface that’s rudimentary but, much like SMS, universally accepted and intelligible. The importance of cross-platform compatibility in mobile markets as fragmented as these can’t be overstated.

So bridging the gap between USSD and a “traditional” (as we might call it) payment app is a unique opportunity, and one a company called Hover (also in the DFS Lab portfolio) is addressing. Its tech acts as a sort of translation layer between USSD and smartphone app interfaces, allowing for modern app design but also deep back-compatibility. It’s an opportunity specific to this time and this area of the world, but nevertheless one that may end up touching millions.

And from the narrowness of its vision that DFS Lab derives its effectiveness.

“They’re one of the most specialized accelerators in the world,” said Damalie. “It goes beyond just funding — it involves having the right kind of network: access to partners, data, sources across the continent. They had context-relevant fellows, people who had very specific challenges.”

“The grant was useful and let us build a proof of concept, and of course the Gates Foundation gives us credibility. But they were taking bets on us as individuals.”

Although DFS Lab has heretofore been funded by the Gates infusion, that well will run dry soon. Jake Kendall, DFS Lab’s executive director, indicated that the plan is to move towards a more traditional investor fund. They already focus on profitability and the potential for growth to the continental stage or beyond; this isn’t a charity but tactical investment in such a way that social good is a necessary byproduct.

“The best way to have a global impact is to be self-sustaining,” he said.

Powered by WPeMatico

Yahoo Finance launches social savings app Tanda, an alternative to credit cards

Posted by | android apps, Apps, Finance, fintech, iOS apps, Mobile, savings, Social, social apps, tanda, TC, Yahoo, Yahoo-Finance | No Comments

 Yahoo Finance today launched a new app called Tanda that allows small groups of either five or nine people to save money together for short-term goals. The app uses the concept of a “money pool” – that is, everyone participating in one Tanda’s collaborative savings circles will pay a fixed amount to the group’s savings pot every month. And every month, one member… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Spanish bank launches money-transfer app focused initially on US-Mexico remittances

Posted by | Apps, BBVA, Finance, fintech, Mobile, money transfer, TC, tuyyo | No Comments

 BBVA, Spain’s second-largest bank that snatched up mobile banking startup Simple for $117 million back in 2014, is now entering the mobile money transfer business with today’s launch of a new app called Tuyyo. The app, which is available on both iOS and Android, is focused on the $73 billion annual market for remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean from the U.S. However,… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Over 5,000 Wells Fargo ATMs now support card-free access via Apple Pay and other mobile wallets

Posted by | android pay, Apple Pay, ATM, Banking, Banks, Finance, fintech, Mobile, mobile payments, NFC, Samsung Pay, Wells Fargo | No Comments

 Wells Fargo’s ATMs are getting an upgrade. The bank announced today that more than 40 percent – or over 5,000 of its ATMs – will now allow customers to perform transactions without having to pull out their bank card. Instead, users can take advantage of NFC – aka the “tap and pay” technology that powers mobile wallet systems like Apple Pay, Android Pay,… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Zelle, the U.S. banks’ Venmo rival, will launch its mobile app next week

Posted by | Apps, Banking, Finance, fintech, Mobile, mobile payments, money, money transfer, payments, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle | No Comments

 Zelle, the PayPal rival backed by more than 30 U.S. banks, is preparing to launch its standalone mobile app on Tuesday, September 12th. The move is meant to give the U.S. banking industry a foothold in the person-to-person payments business, where they’re losing ground to services like PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash and, very soon, Apple’s iMessage, powered by Apple Pay. Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

PAYFAZZ wants to build a network of distributed bank agents in Indonesia

Posted by | Airbnb, fintech, Indonesia, Mobile, PAYFAZZ, Startups, TC | No Comments

 Hendra Kwik is hoping to tap into the excitement of on-demand companies like Uber and distributed workforces — except instead of ridesharing, he’s hoping it will work for banking. That’s the theory behind PAYFAZZ, which coordinates with banks to create a distributed network of bank agents that can operate from wherever — even their own homes. Once that person is… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Mobile savings and investment service Acorns is on track to do 1 billion trades in 2017

Posted by | acorns, Finance, fintech, Mobile, PayPal, TC, Wealthfront | No Comments

 Acorns is quickly turning into an oak tree in the financial services space. The company now boasts more than 2 million investment accounts (with 600,000 opened in 2017 alone) and is on track to do 1 billion trades in 2017 through the proprietary broker-dealer that it created. Read More

Powered by WPeMatico