Bank N26 is a financial institution that does not need subsidiaries. Your clients have your services at their fingertips. They just need a smartphone, a app and an Internet connection. Created in 2013 in Berlin, the Valentin Stalf entity – its founder and CEO at just 36 years old is already among the leaders in the world of German finance.
N26, the German neobank, leaves its Spanish clients stranded without collecting unemployment
The estimated value of N26 exceeded last autumn that of Commerzbank, considered one of the major players in the German financial sector. After a recent and recent round of capital raising, N26 was approaching an estimated valuation of 7.8 billion euros. They landed in Spain in 2018 and according to their data they would have about 600,000 clients in our country. According to the information published by the economic newspaper Handelsblatt on that round of funding, N26 would have now positioned itself on the financial landscape as “the third largest German commercial bank”, behind only Deutsche Bank and DZ Bank.
As an actor that acts solely through the Internet, N26 is often presented as the great – if not the best – example of an entity at the forefront of the “digital transformation” that is underway in the world of finance, according to Stalf terms. In its economic pages, the weekly Focus has reported that N26 even aspires to become one of the largest banks in Europe next year.
Be that as it may, the American magazine Forbes It has already named the N26 as “the best bank in the world” in 2021. The Berlin entity claims to have seven million clients worldwide, 1,500 employees and millions lost. The most recent data, from 2019, show losses of 217 million euros.
However, Stalf and his bank seem to be on the crest of the wave and, nevertheless, N26 is also giving rise to information that does not speak well of this young entity. For example, from N26, the general newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung has titled the following: “The Bank That Scammers Loved.”
The text about N26 that journalists Jan Diesteldorf and Alexander Hagelüken signed in that newspaper a couple of weeks ago included the harsh criticism that is being poured on the Internet bank, also known as “neobanks” for operating through a computer application. These criticisms against N26 were made by the Bavarian popular banks, organized in the Bavarian Cooperative Association (GVB, for its German acronym), in a recent letter citing the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The text was addressed to BaFin, the German authority dedicated to the supervision of the financial sector.
Criminals using N26 accounts
According to the GVB, in cases of fraud over the Internet, for example, through purchases in false Internet stores or after having been the user of an account in another bank victim of hacking of their email, in N26 they sin of passivity . According to what the GVB denounces, the authors of these digital scams would have accounts in N26. The money scammed in fake Internet stores or through email hacking would pass through or end up.
Hence the Süddeutsche Zeitung write that there are “criminals who visibly use accounts at bank N26 to scam customers of other banks.” Furthermore, in the face of such events, “more than 75% of the cases remain unsolved,” according to the GVB brief, where they reproach N26 for lack of sufficient involvement to deal with these situations.
At N26, it rains over wet. Last August the Handelsblatt reported that between May 2019 and July 2021, an unknown number of criminals would have used up to 1,600 Berlin bank accounts as tools for fake Internet shops or accounts on the e-Bay auction and sales platform aimed at scamming.
Fine of 4.25 million euros from the BaFin
This type of information has not gone unnoticed by the authorities. The BaFin, in fact, has the N26 in its sights. Proof of this has been the fine that the supervisory body has already imposed on the Berlin entity of 4.25 million euros for omissions when presenting documents on suspicions of money laundering. That punishment was paid last July, although it did not make it to the press until the end of September.
Problems such as those related to money laundering or the identification and verification of bank clients have put BaFin at odds with N26, but Valentin Stalf and his people promise to improve. At the beginning of September, at an event organized by the Handelsblatt, Stalf himself acknowledged that his company was dedicating significant resources to preventing scams. In 2021 alone, the bank will dedicate about 30 million euros to fight criminal practices, according to Stalf.
The bank’s CEO has been airing a pledge speech for months that aims to reassure the authorities. “We want to do our part in the fight against global crime. This fight is a task of the whole society, in which banks and financial institutions play a fundamental role. N26 knows about this responsibility and takes care of it ”, said Stalf through a statement before paying the aforementioned fine of 4.25 million euros.
That this fall talk about the “love” professed by criminals to N26 does not seem to agree with the CEO of the bank. But neither did that characterization that made the bank the Süddeutsche Zeitung A few days ago it seemed to cost the entity a great deal in terms of success and image. In the company, in fact, they celebrate the recent arrival of an investment of about 700 million euros. Bank officials say “wanting to attract more people focused on products, technology and security.” Despite the criticism, they are getting away with it.