Amsterdam-based challenger bank bunq turns five: 5 things you need to know about this fintech company

bunq

Bunq, an Amsterdam-based challenger bank, turned 5 on November 24th. Founded in 2012, Ali Niknam set out to radically change the traditional banking industry and create what we call today the bank of The Free. 

Fast-forwarding 2020, bunq is an independent bank that offers mobile banking with no branch visits, no queues, no paperwork. Users can share bank accounts with whomever they want and pay with worldwide Maestro and Mastercards wherever they go. It is also the first challenger bank to be included in the Dutch Fair Finance Guide (2020 edition), with an all-time high score for a newcomer on the list.

On their official website, the company mentions: “bunq turns 5! We’re celebrating 5 years of innovation, 5 years of freedom, and most importantly: 5 years of building the bank of The Free, together. These years have been a true adventure from day 1. Looking back, we’re proud of so many achievements we’ve reached together and looking forward to making the next 5 even more amazing.”

As a part of the celebration, the Dutch fintech company introduced easy plans for both personal and business users:

Easy Travel: With this plan, the user can save 3% when spent abroad. It is accepted worldwide in a range of sectors including car rentals, hotel reservations, and offline terminals in airplanes and elsewhere.

Easy Money: This plan lets users manage money more effectively. It automatically categorises payments and saves up to 10% of the spendings. According to the company, easyMoney empowers you to make decisions that change your personal and professional life for the better. 

Easy Green: With this plan, the company will plant a tree for every €100 spent on any bunq cards.

Moving on, we have jotted down 5 things you should know on bunq 5th anniversary. Take a look

#1 First digital bank to offer Google Pay

A few days back, the fintech company announced the addition of Google Pay as a payment option in the Netherlands and Portugal. Right now, it is available only for Android users. Google Pay will enable contactless, NFC-based payments via Android phones in offline or online stores.

#2 Launched joint account options

Earlier this year, bunq made joint banking easier with the launch of bunq +1, enabling premium and business users to share accounts whenever they want, with whomever they want. With a single tap, users can create an account for anyone they wish, including partners or children.

#3 On a greener mission

bunq is one of the few challenger banks that aims to make the world a greener place. As a part of the initiative, bunq came up with the Green Card, a metal card, which plants a tree for every €100 spent. As users spend, bunq will plant trees. Notably, bunq has planted more than 40,000 trees within two months of launching the Green Card. The Green Card is itself better for the planet as it is made of metal, which lasts 50% longer than a regular plastic card, claims the company.

#4 API marketplace for developers

Last year, bunq introduced a market place for developers to showcase apps built using the European challenger bank’s open API. In this regard, bunq is the first bank to introduce a market place presenting apps built on its platform. Through this platform, developers can market themselves to bunq users all over the world. On top of that, users can access various apps right from tracking spending habits to managing their existing online banking credentials with just a click.

#5 Supports startups

The Dutch challenger bank partnered with early-stage VC, Antler, to act as a banking partner for Antler’s innovative portfolio of startups in the Netherlands. 

bunq is currently available in 30 European markets: the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Iceland. It has raised €44.9 million in funding to date.

Main image credits: bunq

Startups – Silicon Canals

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Current Banks $131M to be the Challenger Bank That Brings Much-Needed Liquidity for Those Living Paycheck to Paycheck

The current banking system in the US isn’t structured to help the 130M+ Americans that are living paycheck to paycheck to succeed, instead banks focus on large depositors to support their lending businesses. Current is the digital challenger bank that directly addresses this mismatch by focusing on liquidity and providing access to banking services that include the ability to deliver paychecks up to two days early with direct deposit, no overdraft fees, and earn cashback. The company’s platform is designed to be inclusive for all Americans regardless of age or income level, especially the younger generation; the average age of a Current checking account member is 27 and approximately 50% of its members have never had a bank account before. AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and Founder Stuart Sopp to learn about Current’s response during the pandemic, simple mission to get money to its customers as fast as possible, impressive user growth, and recent funding round from investors that include Tiger Global Management, Sapphire Ventures. Avenir, Foundation Capital, Wellington Management Company, and QED Investors.
AlleyWatch

German challenger bank N26 launches new subscription plan for €4.90 per month; product offerings to evolve in coming months

Berlin-based challenger bank N26 has launched a premium subscription service called N26 Smart. The new monthly subscription combines a slew of premium features of the service and other benefits, including new functionalities that will help users organise their finances.

N26 Smart features detailed

N26 Smart, the new monthly premium subscription service, will be bundled on top of N26’s digital current account. It will include the following features at the cost of €4.90 per month. Firstly, there will be dedicated phone support along with in-app chat support, up to 5 free ATM withdrawals per month and global payments in any currently sans any fee, and curated benefits and offers from partners.

Users can access to up to 10 ‘Spaces’ – N26’s sub-accounts along with Shared Spaces – that will let users save, spend and manage money with a maximum of 10 people. There will be access to the new Round-Ups feature, which will round each purchase to the nearest Euro automatically and set the spare change to help users increase their savings with minimal effort. Finally, users can choose from five different colours for the N26 Smart Mastercard – Sand, Slate, Ocean, Aqua, and Rhubarb, to make a statement.

The subscribers of N26 Smart can access all intuitive features of the paperless and branchless banking experience offered by N26. These include 100% digital account opening, automatic categorisation of spending via the statistics feature, instant notifications, free global payments with Google Pay and Apple Pay, in-app access to N26 Mastercard’s digital version, and fund protection of up to €1M under the German Deposit Protection Scheme.

Notably, the benefits of N26 Smart premium monthly subscription will be available to both self-employed individuals and freelancers in the N26 Business Smart subscription. It will add 0.1% cashback on all card spends as well.

“Everybody should be empowered to manage their money in a way that makes sense for their priorities and way of life. With more and more customers turning to digital banking in these uncertain times, N26 Smart will put our most popular tools at our customers’ fingertips at a budget-conscious price point, helping anyone effortlessly manage their money digitally with confidence and ease,” says Valentin Stalf, co-founder and CEO of N26.

Other N26 updates coming soon

Notably, it is claimed that the launch of N26 Smart is one of the planned updates that will soon be brought to the company’s product portfolio. All the new updates are likely to be rolled out to the digital bank’s free and premium products over the coming months. There will be changes to N26 Standard, which will provide a 100% virtual payment experience to N26 digital card users, N26 You will become N26 International with borderless banking features, and N26 Metal will become N26 Unlimited offering the best digital banking experience, claims the company.

The startup announced securing over €92.29M in Series D funding extension, earlier in May this year. Series D round of funding for N26 commenced back in January 2019. The startup has now announced an extension of it to an overall value of €526M, while maintaining its valuation at €3.23B.

Main image picture credits: N26

Startups – Silicon Canals

HMBradley raises $18.25 million planting a flag as LA’s entrant into the challenger bank business

With $ 90 million in deposits and $ 18.25 million in new financing, HMBradley is making moves as the Los Angeles-based entrant into the challenger bank competition.

LA is home to a growing community of financial services startups, and HMBradley is quickly taking its place among the leaders with a novel twist on the banking business.

Unlike most banking startups that woo customers with easy credit and savvy online user interfaces, HMBradley is pitching a better savings account.

The company offers up to 3% interest on its savings accounts, much higher than most banks these days, and it’s that pitch that has won over consumers and investors alike, according to the company’s co-founder and chief executive, Zach Bruhnke.

With climbing numbers on the back of limited marketing, Bruhnke said raising the company’s latest round of financing was a breeze. 

“They knew after the first call that they wanted to do it,” Brunke said of the negotiations with the venture capital firm Acrew, a venture firm whose previous exposure to fintech companies included backing the challenger bank phenomenon which is Chime . “It was a very different kind of fundraise for us. Our seed round was a terrible, treacherous 16-month fundraise,” Brunke said.

For Acrew’s part, the company actually had to call Chime’s founder to ensure that the company was okay with the venture firm backing another entrant into the banking business. Once the approval was granted, Brunke said the deal was smooth sailing.

Acrew, Chime and HMBradley’s founders see enough daylight between the two business models that investing in one wouldn’t be a conflict of interest with the other. And there’s plenty of space for new entrants in the banking business, Bruhnke said. “It’s a very, very large industry as a whole,” he said.

As the company grows its deposits, Bruhnke said there will be several ways it can leverage its capital. That includes commercial lending on the back end of HMBradley’s deposits and other financial services offerings to grow its base.

For now, it’s been wooing consumers with one-click credit applications and the high interest rates it offers to its various tiers of savers.

“When customers hit that 3% tier they get really excited,” Bruhnke said. “If you’re saving money and you’re not saving to HMBradley then you’re losing money.”

The money that HMBradley raised will be used to continue rolling out its new credit product and hiring staff. It already poached the former director of engineering at Capital One, Ben Coffman, and fintech thought leader Saira Rahman, the company said. 

In October, the company said, deposits doubled month-over-month and transaction volume has grown to over $ 110 million since it launched in April. 

Since launching the company’s cash back credit card in July, HMBradley has been able to pitch customers on 3% cash back for its highest tier of savers — giving them the option to earn 3.5% on their deposits.

The deposit and lending capabilities the company offers are possible because of its partnership with the California-based Hatch Bank, the company said.

Startups – TechCrunch

London-based TransferGo secures €5 million from Silicon Valley Bank to power instant payments

TransferGo, one of the world’s fastest growing money transfer companies, today announces it has received around €5 million in financing from Silicon Valley Bank UK Branch (SVB), the bank of the world’s most innovative companies. This will enable the business to further develop and expand its real-time payments platform for consumers, SMEs and enterprise clients. With…

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