N26 Launches In Switzerland But Without CHF Support

N26 Launches In Switzerland But Without CHF Support

by September 10, 2019

N26 is officially live in Switzerland. The Germany-native digital bank launched its services in Switzerland on September 3, 2019, offering Swiss customers a choice of two memberships: a free standard bank account and a free business bank account.

Over 20,000 people had signed up to the waiting list ahead of N26’s public launch, but the initial flurry of enthusiasm to the news that one of Europe’s hottest digital banks had finally arrived was rapidly met with disappointment when it was revealed that the accounts only supported EUR, and came with not a Swiss IBAN but a German IBAN.

On Twitter, in the market launch announcement thread, people cited the pointlessness of the offering, stating that “without a real Swiss franc (CHF) account, without a [Swiss] IBAN, it’s really useless.” Another user said the offering “makes no sense for daily use” since the Swiss franc is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland, not the euro.

Startup Competition venture

The N26 support Twitter account responded that the decision to offer EUR bank accounts was the result of a study the company conducted which found a “strong demand for EUR accounts in Switzerland.”

Currently, N26 only offers EUR and GBP accounts, but said in a press release it has a longer-term goal to offer accounts in Swiss franc as well. The move would require N26 to either open a correspondence account with a Swiss bank like rival Revolut did with Credit Suisse in 2018 to get its Swiss IBAN, or seek out a Swiss banking license, which would allow it to offer its own Swiss bank account numbers.

In the meantime, N26 said the current offering for the Swiss market is designed for Swiss residents, as well as Swiss freelancers and the self-employed, who regularly travel for business and leisure into the Eurozone, and are tired of paying high fees for a euro account.

In a blog announcement, N26 said its “latest launch delivers Swiss residents the best of both worlds — a better way to manage money and the option to withdraw euros in the Eurozone like a local.”

Georg Hauer, general manager for DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) at N26, said in a statement:

“We’re really happy to present a mobile banking offering in Switzerland that works not just here, but also well beyond the borders of the Eurozone. Our mission is to become the most popular euro currency account in Switzerland.”

Swiss N26 account holders get five free withdrawals in euros per month within the Eurozone, with no foreign exchange fees on card payments worldwide, regardless of currency.

Other features available for Swiss customers include push-notifications after every transaction, automatic spending categorization in the app, as well as Spaces sub-accounts, a feature that can help users organize and manage their finances and reach saving goals, Apple Pay and money transfers in real-time.

Founded in 2013, N26 is a licensed digital bank from Berlin and one of the most well valued fintech startups in the world at US$3.5 billion. The company claims more than 3.5 million customers in 26 markets. It launched in the US in July and will be entering Brazil next year as part of its global expansion plan.

Challenger banks like N26 have witnessed significant growth over the past years.

N26’s main competitor, Revolut has more than doubled the number of users signed up to its platform to five million since June 2018, but its wild rise has come at a cost. A report by Wired in February revealed the human cost of Revolut’s rapid rise, highlighting toxic workplace behavior and high employee turnover.


Featured image: Hello Switzerland! N26 celebrates its 26th market launch, via N26.