N26 is a Berlin-based mobile bank, aiming to disrupt the European banking sector. The public continues to lose faith in corrupt Irish banks and are seeking low-cost alternatives. Mobile-only banks such as N26, Revolut and Monza are all becoming viable alternatives with an increasing number of Irish residents signing up for accounts. N26 launched in Ireland at the end of 2015 and now have over 15,000 customers. The German start-up now has a total of one million customers across 17 countries in Europe and are planning to offer their services in the UK & US.
Opening an Account
Signing up with N26 is a relatively straight-forward process that should take no longer than ten minutes. You can sign up via their app or website. They ask for basic information such as name, email address, telephone number, date of birth and country of residence. After this you need to prove your identity to verify your account. I verified my account by simply video calling directly from the app, a customer support agent will ask some questions, take a photo and ask you to hold up your passport to the camera to ensure it’s real. The call was about five minutes long but would have been shorter if the German guy could understand my Mayo accent. As soon as you’re verified, they will send the MasterCard in the post. Overall the whole process is significantly faster than opening an account with a traditional bank.
Two products available for Irish residents – N26 and N26 Black.
|Minimum Duration||None||12 Months|
|MasterCard Fee||€2.90 per month (free now)||Free|
|Insurance Provided||None||Mobile Phone Theft Insurance
ATM Theft Protection
|ATM Euro Withdrawal||5 free withdrawals each month
Additional €2 charge after
|5 free withdrawals each month
Additional €2 charge after
|Foreign POS Transaction Fee||No Markups||No Markups|
in Foreign Currency
|Replacement Card Fee||€10||€10|
- Five free ATM withdrawals worldwide, perfect for avid travelers to save money on ATM’s fees. When I was in San Francisco, I got charged $5 per ATM withdrawal with my AIB card.
- No foreign transaction fees because of their partnership with Transferwise. Save hundreds of euro from banks charging hefty markups.
- Real-time notifications – anytime a payment is goes in or out of an account, you’ll receive a notification
- Track spending behaviour – each transaction is automatically organised into a category like “leisure” or “bars & restaurants.” Using this information, you can spot where you’re overspending and help change bad spending habits.
- Money Beam feature allows customers to send money instantly to contacts with the same bank. Typing out IBAN numbers can be painful!
- Setting up an account is quick and easy in comparison to opening an account with a traditional bank.
- Poor customer service is the number one complaint I see posted online. The company is experiencing strong growth and at times struggle with deal with customer requests due to lack of staff. Email support is almost non-existent, but the live chat service was brilliant anytime I used it.
- 24 hour customer support is not available yet. This could be a big problem if your card stops working or gets stolen when travelling abroad.
- Extended warranty with the N26 black account, applies to devices purchased in your country of residence. Any items you buy from Amazon.co.uk will not be covered by the warranty.
- Can’t lodge checks or cash into an account. Although we are in 2018, some Irish people still prefer to issue checks.
The landscape of banking is rapidly changing within Ireland, more and more banks are looking to shutdown branches and gradually move services online to reduce costs. Irish banks will need to invest heavily in IT to compete with fintech companies in the future.