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Dutch neobank Bunq applies for US banking licence

Could Bunq buck the European fintech trend and make it big in the US?

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Ali Niknam/Bunq.

Bunq has applied for a US banking licence with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The Dutch neobank is one of the largest in the EU, having hit €2bn in user deposits last month after rounding off 2022 with its first quarterly profit of €2.3bn.

Founded by CEO Ali Niknam in 2012, Bunq has been serving European users for almost a decade and now hopes to bring its “transparent, value-based subscription model” to European and American digital nomads in the US.

“In a world of banking giants, bunq was created to support people in their pursuit for individual freedom,” Niknam said.

“Throughout bunq’s history, we’ve always focused on making life easy for digital nomads in Europe. We can’t wait to bring our user-centered philosophy stateside, giving a community of location-independent people an effortless way to bank on the go.”

Tailored to users with an “international lifestyle”, Bunq hopes to help European expats, international entrepreneurs and professionals working remotely with transparent and simple financial services.

With millions of European expats living in the US, and the number of digital nomads growing by 131 per cent from 2019 to 2022 (to 17 million), there is certainly a huge potential market for Bunq.

But the US has traditionally been a tough case for international fintechs to crack — just a few years ago Monzo withdrew its US banking licence application and German bank N26 withdrew its operations within months.

With bootstrapped beginnings — Niknam put $125m of his own money into the company before it raised $228m at a $1.9bn valuation in 2021 — Bunq is clearly not one to shy away from a challenge.

It was the largest Series A round for a European fintech, and Bunq now operates in more than 30 countries.

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Ali Niknam

CEO and founder


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