N26 is 100% digital bank that’s designed to be simple and transparent. It’s an app integrating the most innovative technology to make your banking life easier. They are just one of a series of challenger banks which have sprung up in recent years with no high street branches and the proposition that, so long as you don’t mind doing everything online they can offer a service that’s differentiated from traditional finance institutions.
Now however, N26 have announced that they are quitting the UK citing Brexit as the reason. Users have until the 15th of April to open a bank with an alternative provider as after that date their N26 account will be closed.
“With the UK having left the EU at the end of January, we will in due course no longer be able to operate in the UK with our European banking licence. As such we can no longer open new N26 accounts and will be closing existing accounts on 15 April 2020. We have prepared a list of FAQs which you can find below in order to answer any questions you might have. We are sorry to be leaving and we understand this will be disappointing for our customers.”
It’s worth questioning whether Brexit is really the reason that N26 are quitting the UK. There are plenty of alternatives such as Starling, Monza, Monese and Revolut that are still available and it would appear much more likely that N26 simply hasn’t made much headway in the UK and Brexit is perhaps the final push that was needed to make UK operations unattractive rather than the root cause of their problems – have you even heard of N26 before – many in the UK don’t even know they exist let alone bank with them.
Much as challenger banks offer a service with a difference, some of the downsides are already starting to show from N26. Bank with any UK high street bank and you can make use of the Current Account Switch Service which moves your account and all your direct debits to your new bank. With N26 not part of the Current Account Switch Service, it’s down to you not only to move all your debits and manually transfer your funds, any payments into your account in the future also won’t be forwarded but will bounce and be returned to the sender.
Regardless of whether it was Brexit or simply a challenging and competitive banking arena in the UK, with N26 quitting the UK some of the downsides of challenger banks have started to surface. Still, they do offer an alternative and if you’re happy to take the flaws onboard they still offer benefits that may suit some.
Do you bank with a non-high street bank and, if so, would you recommend them to others?