N26 launches the new Italian IBAN, how does the strategy change?

How does N26’s business change in Italy now that all accounts opened in this country will automatically have an Italian IBAN? How is N26’s business changing now that the whole world is dealing with a pandemic? Andrea Isola, General Manager of N26, illustrates the situation of N26 in our country and what scenario he imagines for the post COVID19 fintech.

What were the key stages of the route to get to an Italian IBAN? With what time lengths and difficulties?

It was a path that required several months of work by the entire Italian team and a part of the global team – involving over 100 resources split among the different groups: product, marketing, operations, banking, customer support, and so on. It’s a novelty that was carried out precisely because we had intercepted this request coming from our community. The last two months have certainly been challenging, especially due to the global health emergency, but we have achieved a great result, a real milestone that will allow us to make N26 a solution is ever closer to the needs of our customers who will be able to use our products as primary accounts in all respects.

What are the characteristics of the Italian market? Who are your users and which are the services most appreciated?

Our customer base is very diversified: if we consider age, 55% of users are under 40 years old, 45% are over 40. It may seem strange that there are also older people among the customers of a fully mobile bank, but this shows how much more and more people – regardless of age – actually appreciate a new and fully digital bank model. The most popular features are certainly transparency, security and distinctive UX. We were first “born mobile” and therefore all our services closely linked to digital are also fully appreciated. We give clients the opportunity to open an account in just a few minutes with a fully online, paperless digital onboarding experience without the need to go to a branch. All of these features are particularly appreciated, however, in this period of lockdown when so many people are finding themselves forced into their homes, but cannot do without banking services.
In addition, we are continuously developing innovative services such as Spaces, which allow you to create virtual piggy banks, where you can save your money (also with a view to future goals, considering the period), or Rules, which allows you to set up money management rules for recurring payments or frequent expenses. At the same time, premium customers can also share money with other people thanks to Shared Spaces: virtual shared accounts for shared expenses between friends, family, couples, to name a few.

In the light of this innovation (IBAN), and Covid19 what objectives do you have for 2020 in Italy?

We want to continue to invest in the Italian market to acquire new customers, develop new products/services and forge local partnerships that are strategic for us and for users. The current health crisis is also proving to be an important driver in pushing the digitalization of the country and changing consumption habits. We expect the trend of digital payments and online shopping to continue to grow significantly, even in older age groups, as we are already seeing take placs. As a banking player, we want to support our customers in this process of technological acceleration.

In general what post-Covid-19 scenario do you imagine in finance and in particular in fintech?

Companies like ours, born with a mobile and digital soul, will certainly be one step ahead in what promises to be a total revolution in habits and ways of contacting customers. We are already talking about a “new normality” that will affect all sectors and we absolutely cannot imagine the banking sector will be excluded. Even more traditional financial realities will necessarily have to adapt to these new scenarios and we expect that many of them will be able to rely on fintech companies to speed up processes, instead of opting for the development of in-house solutions that would require much more time and resources.

How has N26 put in place special initiatives to address those who are suffering the most from the economic effects of the pandemic?

To help those who may be isolated at home or in areas with postal restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have launched a new feature, instant issuing, which allows customers to use the account via apps and without the need to wait for the physical card to arrive. Simply open a new account, which takes about 8 minutes, and after the first recharge you can use your digital card right away. To provide additional support we have kept our Support Center active 7 days a week to be able to respond quickly to any doubts of our customers. At the same time we have also launched a fundraiser within our community, inviting customers to make a donation in favour of Gruppo San Donato.

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Author: Tudor Sava

5 Maggio 2020