Fast-growing digital bank N26 is weighing up plans to establish an Irish operation that could employ up to 100 people.
In an interview with The Irish Times, co-founder and co-chief executive Maximilian Tayenthal also said the fintech intends to roll out more services to its customers here, including crypto trading.
Berlin-based N26 was valued at more than $9 billion last month following a $900 million Series E funding round. It has about 7 million customers globally, including 200,000 in the Republic of Ireland.
Following recent talks with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in Berlin, at which he pressed the case for N26 establishing a talent hub in Ireland, Mr Tayenthal said the company was exploring the idea.
Speaking on the fringes of Web Summit in Lisbon, he said the company intends to take on at least 1,000 new employees following the fundraise and that it is keen to see some of them based in the Republic.
“We believe Ireland could be a great ecosystem for us,” he said, noting the presence of a large number of tech companies here and access to talent.
Pressed on how many people the company might employ, locally Mr Tayenthal said: “if it is 50, good, if it’s 100, great”.
N26 already employs 50 Irish people across the company, including Adrienne Gormley, who became its chief operating officer in September 2020.
N26 is in 25 markets at present and will shortly launch in Brazil. It has 1,500 staff globally. The company has raised close to $1.8 billion from investors since it was founded by Mr Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf in 2013.
The company recently began offering insurance products for Irish customers, allowing them to purchase coverage, manage plans and initiate claims from different providers from within its mobile app.
Mr Tayenthal said trading was another area in which N26 was expanding, including crypto trades.
“We very much believe the only way to build up a certain level of wealth for customers in by investing in public markets. We entered banking because it was dominated by old-fashioned institutions who did not provide a good experience and charged high rates, and the same is true for trading. It is holding back people from investing. In Germany, for example, less than 10 per cent of people actually hold stocks,” he said.
“Money is sitting in savings accounts with negative interest rates attached to them. Offering a good experience could change that with more people investing instead,” Mr Tayenthal added.
N26 is expected to go public soon with Mr Tayenthal saying it has been preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) for some time.
“We have not defined the exact point in time but in a year’s time we will be structurally ready and from then it will be one of the strategic options we have. “What sets N26 apart is that we have this huge vision of building a global financial institution, which will take many years and massive amounts of capital. So at some point, going public will be the most effective way of realising this,” Mr Tayenthal added.