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N26 cuts short its American Dream

The news comes just over two years after N26 first announced it was set to launch in the US.

a person sitting at a table

Maximillian Tayenthal/N26.

Nearly two years after N26 pulled out of the UK market, the German digital bank is re-refocusing on its European roots.

N26 first announced it would dip its toes into the US market in January 2019, officially launching seven months later in August 2019, and quickly amassed 250,000 customers in just five months in the US.

However, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crash across the world, N26 struggled to make more headway in the hard-to-crack market.

Co-CEO and co-founder Maximillian Tayenthal told Business Insider over the weekend that the German digital bank would no longer be focussing on US expansion, instead, it would be doubling down on its presence in Europe.

“Not as much of the management’s attention is on the United States at the moment. Ultimately what keeps me awake at night is how do we get to the European market,” Tayenthal told the Business Insider.

A spokesperson for the bank told AltFi that there are currently 500,000 N26 customers in the US, and that the digital bank paused signups and reimplemented a waitlist for its US operations in August 2021—a move which the spokesperson said was in relation to N26 switching banking providers.

Back in May 2020, N26 slimmed down its New York offices by 10 per cent, which included letting go of its US CEO Nicolas Kopp, with the bank now paying even less attention to its overseas operations.

Despite hinting at a withdrawal from the US market, N26 recently scooped a Brazilian banking licence, with plans to launch its services in the South American country imminently—although it remains unclear what steps the bank has taken to do so.

N26’s shift to a more European focus should come as no surprise following its withdrawal from the UK market last year, citing Brexit uncertainty as the primary reason.

The German digital bank has had a tricky time with regulators as of late, with the German regulator BaFin slapping N26 with a €4.25m fine for anti-money laundering (AML) failings.

BaFin also imposed a new customer limit on N26, with the bank only able to onboard a maximum of 50,000- 70,000 customers per month as a result of its AML failings.

UPDATE 15-11-2021 - This article was updated to include information provided by a spokesperson from N26.

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