N26 leaves the UK

Didn’t want to damage my Monzo card


N26 refunded money back to me in January as they stated they had missold their Metal Membership Rewards. I suspect that the refunds coupled with their stagnant position in the market was the deciding factor. N26 are probably using Brexit so as not to spook their investors.

Fidor, a German bank were new to the UK market three or four years ago but announced it was leaving in September last year. it was as inactive as N26 despite a lot of hoohah.

Many will remember the extraordinary hype which surrounded the impending arrival of N26, meanwhile. Once it arrived, the underwhelming reality was a bit of a stunner.

Anyway - move on…

Interestingly (though maybe for another thread) the dumbing down by Santander of pretty much all its product range from current accounts to savings products seems ominous too…


Say what you will about N26, but their loss is going to leave a void in the U.K. market, if only for budgeting. Spaces are just too damn intuitive and unrestrictive. Since the announcement I’ve spent some time to go back and play around with my Monzo, Starling, Revolut, and Monese accounts, but nothing comes close. There is simply no other product in the U.K. that currently offers that level of budgeting utility and freedom. :frowning:

Spaces was restrictive. Restrictive to two spaces, unless you paid extra, which was useless for budgeting when rivals offered more pots/spaces without cost.


More =/= better. I paid for N26 You, but never used more than 2 or 3 spaces at a time depending on savings goals. You also don’t need more than 1 space just to segregate between spending and fixed expenses, which is how I use them for the most part. Customisable automations, drag and drop, and the ‘Pay back from a space’ action within transactions made it highly efficient to manage.

Yes, Monzo allow more pots, but the interface for interacting with them is cumbersome, and the more you have the more archaic that becomes. Monzo’s built in automations are very restrictive, and moving money around manually is a chore (you can’t even move funds directly between pots themselves). Using them for budgeting feels counter intuitive as it interferes with the summary feature, another budgeting tool that is hobbled by functionality restrictions. Summary Periods and Repeating Payment options don’t work for me. Monzo could have nailed budgeting with summary if they took a more simplistic approach, by not relying on income or periods at all, like US fintechs do.

Spaces is the only tool I’ve come across in the U.K. that affords me the freedom to budget in a way that works for me on my terms and is simple to use.


Maybe for 1 or 2 people


Out of interest, has anyone here actually used N26 recently as their primary spending or budgeting account for a month or two and still believe Monzo provide a better UX? A lot of the dismissive criticisms I’m seeing the Monzo and U.K. fintech echo chambers just doesn’t line up with real world experiences from people I’ve recommended both banks to. Their active U.K. user numbers appeared to be growing faster than Starling’s.

I suppose the real test of this will be in the US where both Monzo and N26 have an equal footing and opportunity, though neither of them do banking better than Simple.

‘Fraid I don’t see that at all. Nothing N26 implemented was finished. They made great play of the Spaces, but in truth, that did nothing to advance mobile banking.


Maybe part of the issue with N26 was that I didn’t see any big differences between them and the other challenger Fintechs like Monzo and Starling.

I’m a (weirdly seeing as I never have any money!) a pretty big enthusiast for online bank accounts and had a wide range of them going all the way back to the ‘original boom’ in the mid 90s with Smile, Cahoot and First-e. But I just couldn’t find an advantage that n26 had over Monzo and I found the frustrations I had with simple things like their bad implementation of FaceID turned me off using them.

I’m also a pretty die-hard remainer so happy to blame every negative thing this country is going through on Brexit, but even I can see this is nothing to do with Brexit and more that they’ve not made as big as splash in the market overhere than they were hoping. Maybe it’s because generally most UK people expect free banking and expect a lot of perks to make it worth paying extra for it whereas in Europe most people expect to pay a fee for a fairly standard bank account? So it was always going to be a hard sell getting people to go for the ‘You’ or ‘Metal’ current accounts?


That’s a fair view, and I completely empathise that a lot of people in the fintech community would see their offering that way. And I agree the Face ID bugs in the first months were very infuriating. I held out for them to improve because the interface was already there, and having experience their German offering knew what they would be capable of once they had all the right features in place. Once payees could be saved in the app it became a very frustration free experience, and the first online/mobile banking experience I’ve genuinely loved using. I love Monzo too, but their app sucks, so I don’t love using them.

I do believe them when they say Brexit is the primary reason for their decisions. The whole fiasco, their timeline for launching in the U.K., and their plans post-Brexit all seem to line up with the affect Brexit has had. The threat of losing passporting, along with the promise of a three year transitional period post-Brexit to apply for a British license likely forced them to launch their U.K. product well before it was ready. I imagine they held off on applying for a British licence due to all the regulatory uncertainty, general elections and the prospect of a second referendum. And now with that three year transition omitted from the withdrawal bill, leaves them very little time to do anything, and regardless if they apply for a licence now or not, it would not be granted by December 31st so they would still have no option but to leave the U.K. it’s a shame. Competition is good, and necessary.

And yet bunq is pressing ahead. Go figure.

Not going after a UK licence is simply shockingly bad management. N26 only launched after the result of the Brexit referendum was known. Even at the height of the No Deal crisis in October, N26 was still confidently stating nothing would change.

If N26 was serious about the UK market it would all have been surmountable. This is Germany’s richest fintech after all (I think it has raised even more than Monzo) and is launching in the US and Brazil, both massive markets.

Yet it launched in the UK with no CASS, no standing orders, no direct debits, no payee management, notifications time stamped in Central European Time, and very limited support for salary credit. I was probably one of it’s most hopeful customers, but even I think it was a shitshow.


You don’t need to launch a product to hold a licence and the Withdrawal Act was never going to cover this - that’s not its purpose


Those factors had nothing to do with the timing of the launch. I believe the launch had already been delayed at least a year because they had trouble hiring staff for the UK arm (they were advertising specific positions for an extraordinarily long time), and it’s pretty clear that the reason why they launched when they did was because a failure of planning meant the marketing was locked-in but they hadn’t allowed for app issues, so they were practically forced to rush the app out when they did to avoid advertising an unobtainable product.

I mean, people criticise Monzo Labs for rushing some features to full production too soon, but N26 had thousands of people still on the waiting list for Beta access before they opened it to everyone. A clear sign that app problems had pushed the Beta late, but despite this the launch-launch date was fixed and immovable (because of the marketing push).

Granted, I don’t work for N26 so I can’t state this is all fact, but I do believe that all analysis of the available evidence supports this theory.


It was the actual person (the UK General Manager) who would lead the UK side of the business and the UK launch that they didn’t hire for well over a year delaying the launch. They then launched in the UK without hiring anyone (at the time) for that role … and it showed. They seemed to have no idea how the UK banking market worked at launch.

I prefer the N26 UI better than Monzo’s but it was restrictive in many ways at the start (no saving payees or direct debits and as we discussed earlier, spaces) that I never kept going with it.

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I don’t understand this undercurrent of negativity towards N26 for their commercial decision not to remain in the UK, with comments like they were never committed etc.

Each market is different and it’s only natural that you dip your toe in first but they clearly did commit a fair chunk of money as they built a UK version of the app with all the basics and spent a lot on advertising.

Brexit or not, they could have gone for a UK banking licence but they obviously felt it wasn’t a good commercial decision. The fact they’ve launched in other countries and are considering the US says it wasn’t a lack of money but rather a commercial decision.

The UK banking industry is massively dominated by the main high street banks and none of the challenger banks are making income anything like the mainstream banks. To get started needs a serious revenue stream and a long term commitment. It’s not an easy sector to launch into, if it were, why are all the US banks not launching here.


That’s a blast from the past. I forgot I had a First-e account. It was my first and only Maestro debit card :slight_smile:

The temporary permissions regime is not automatic and involves a firm’s regulator changing, amongst other things:


N26 wouldn’t be stupid enough to believe passporting would continue post-Brexit.

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I don’t understand this argument. Perhaps a UK product served via a passport from N26’s German entity was or could have been a viable propostion, but one with the additional overhead of entirely separate UK regulation isn’t. Sure, N26 had some initial tech troubles translating a SEPA product for the technically quite different UK banking market (my euro N26 account has always worked great), but those would have been solved, and then we’d have had one more modern retail banking option to choose from - perhaps with some interesting integration over time with their euro-denominated products. Now we won’t.

This is one of the things people don’t get, or don’t like to admit, about Brexit. Every country regulating everything for itself is clearly more democratic, but at the expense of an increased cost of doing business across multiple markets. It’s like democracy trumps everything - even human welfare.