Having set its sights on becoming a "truly global bank', Germany's app-only bank N26 has announced plans to open in Brazil, its second overseas market after the US.
Having made inroads across 24 European countries, N26 has become Europe's most highly valued non-listed fintech startup, following a $300 million fundraising round in January that prices the company at $2.7 billion.
The money is being used to finance a push into the US that will put N26 into competition with the biggest US retail banks such as JP Morgan and Bank of America both of which have launched their own mobile-only banking offerings to compete with digital startups.
N26, which does not have a banking licence in the US, will partner with an as yet unnamed US bank for the first half of 2019.
For its Brazilian odyssey, N26 has appointed Eduardo Prota as general manager for the market, which counts some 87 million smartphone users among its population. Prota has previously worked for Santander and Cielo as well as various startups.
“Millions of people in Brazil are suffering from bad banking experiences and high fees," says Prota. "We think that money management should not be a time consuming and frustrating experience. N26 has been designed to simplify banking and will empower people in Brazil to take control of their finances.”
in entering Brazil, N26 will face competition not only from established banks, but also from a number of like-minded digital banks, such as Nubank, which already claims to have recruited five million customers.