Merchant Innovation

Smartphone-Only Bank Launches in Germany

After months of development and testing, Germany and Austria now have access to their own smartphone-only bank, NUMBER26, which launched yesterday (Jan. 26).

Dubbed the “Simple for Europe,” an ode to Spanish bank BBVA’s mobile-only system, NUMBER26 uses strategic partner Wirecard Bank’s license and its backing to create a banking network that is not dependent on a branch system as other banks in the two nations are.

“We are taking the next step towards a customer-friendly, transparent and safe mobile banking experience together,” says Wirecard Bank director Alexander von Knoop.

All transactions can be completed on smartphones in a “transparent, mobile, and secure” way, according to NUMBER26 founder and CEO Valentin Stalf in a Finextra press release. Accounts with the bank take only eight minutes to open among those who pre-registered for an account.

Account identification is verified with a simple video call, with no printed documents required. Customers receive their account along with an attached MasterCard. NUMBER26 account holders also have access to free worldwide money withdrawal and can text or email money transfers to different customers. To help manage their funds, customers will be sent accurate financial statistics about account activity, as well as being able to see each transaction displayed on their smartphone. Because there are no bank branches to support, associated costs that would be incurred for those branches are not applicable, so they don’t get passed down to consumers.

Currently, the app is open to those that pre-registered for it back in the fall of 2014, or who are invited to open an account from the bank itself. Wait times to receive an invite are at 4-6 weeks due to the demand for the new device. It may seem a bit on the slow side compared to other possible mobile-only banking options like the more elaborate BankMobile, but it is possible that the slow rollout is to avoid the glitchy debut of Simple.

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