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N26 launches in UK and eyes 2019 for US expansion

Tim Maytom

Berlin-based mobile-first bank N26 has opened up to UK consumers, and is targeting Q1 2019 for a US launch, its chief executive Valentin Stalf has revealed. Since launching in 2015, the firm has expanded to 18 markets and now boasts 1.5m customers.

In an interview with Reuters, Stalf said that the UK and US were "natural next steps" for the firm in its aim to become a global finance brand, and despite uncertainty raised by Great Britain's exit from the EU, "the UK market was always a no-brainer for us".

The mobile-first company, which offers a suite of banking services, has a 50,000-strong waiting list in the UK, but will be opening up accounts slowly, with just a handful of customers getting access in October. The firm will use its German banking licence to operate in the UK via a 'passporting' arrangement which will continue post-Brexit, although the details of how this will work are still unclear.

"We have a branch here in Britain, we are licenced and its cealr it will be valid in the short term via a grace period, but we may need to do something more in say three years' time," said Stalf. "No on in the regulator seems to know, which is quite striking only six months away from Brexit."

N26 will compete with other homegrown mobile-first banking services such as Monzo and Starling in the UK, as well as traditional branch-based banks, but is hoping to appeal to consumers with its combination of digital tools and well-established reputation. The firm is aiming to be profitable in Q2 2019, with revenues coming from fees on products like overdrafts, as well as subscription revenues from its premier-level cards.