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N26 widens losses as compliance costs kick in

N26 widens losses as compliance costs kick in

German mobile bank N26 has posted deeper losses in 2021, spending heavily on upgrading its technology stack and strengthening compliance controls

The bank reported a net loss for the year of €172.4 million, 14.45% up on the previous year.

Launched in Germany and Austria in January 2015, N26 began as a current account with a Mastercard. It has since moved into areas such as crypto and stock trading, attracting more than seven million customers in two dozen countries.

In October, N26 raised more than $900 million in a Series E funding round at a valuation topping $9 billion. The firm believes it has a long enough runway to hit breakeven without having to raise more funds, but has yet to put a timeline on when this will occur. Plans for an IPO next year have been shelved in the meantime.

The company has faced some stiff headwinds over the last couple of years; withdrawing from the US market, facing scrutiny from German regulatory authorities, and dealing with a revolt from hard-pressed staff. In March, The Bank of Italy followed German regulator BaFin in imposing a ban on the recutiment of new customers following an on-site inspection which uncovered lax money laundering controls.

Despite growing revenues and fee-paying customers, the bank made substantial investments in strengthening regulatory frameworks, including systems and personnel to bolster the organization's key business functions, driving a significant increase in administrative expenditure compared to the previous year. On the IT side, the bank introduced over a dozen new features alongside more than 15 platform upgrades to enhance the user experience, including a vastly improved customer complaints mechanism.

Valentin Stalf, CEO and co-founder of N26, says: “2021 saw us solidify our position as a leader in Europe’s digital banking market. We made further investments in our product, in our team, and in the scalability of our platform."

On the plus-side, N26 grew its user base by over 1 million YoY to 8 million customers, and increased revenue-relevant customers to more than 3.7 million. Correspondingly, transaction volume grew 59% to €80 billion (FY-20: €50.3 billion) while customer deposits increased by 52% to €6.1 billion (FY-20: €4.0 billion).

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