Earlier Thursday, European online bank N26 announced it would launch crypto trading for its customers in partnership with Bitpanda (Austrian crypto and stock trading app). The announcement comes when traditional financial institutions have dared to test crypto waters by offering the product to their customers. N26 announced that it would first launch the product in Austria.
The bank will offer crypto trading as a “wealth-building feature,” – meaning customers can buy and sell crypto but can’t transfer the coins to other digital/ offline wallets, Gilles BianRosa, chief product officer at N26, said.
“This of course has a significant impact on security and fraud prevention,” BianRosa said, adding that the bank’s platform is a “non-anonymous crypto trading system” with eligibility criteria on top of the bank’s existing KYC requirements for new customers.
N26 is a German bank founded in 2013 and boasts as one of the largest fintech in Europe, with a market valuation of $9 billion. In 2021, it was voted the world’s best bank by Forbes and the best in Austria. N26 will potentially expose its 7 million customers to the crypto industry.
Crypto analysts are, however, skeptical about the move stating that it would have been timed better, noting the crypto winter. The crypto market has been dominantly bearish this year, resulting in over a $2 trillion wipeout from the market.
In response, market regulators and the European Union, in particular, have vowed a crackdown on crypto markets to ensure investor protection. Notably, the German financial watchdog, Bafin, had earlier ordered restrictions against N26 for alleged failures in its fraud prevention mechanisms.
N26 crypto trading product
The product, dubbed N26 crypto, will become available to Austrian customers in the coming weeks and will comprise 100 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. In an interview with CNBC, Gilles BianRosa, N26 chief production officer, commented the N26 Crypto feature allows its customers to “dip their toes into the water in a way that’s not frothy.”
To trade, customers will select the coin they want to buy or sell, specify the amount and initiate the trade. Funds will be deducted from their main account, and the new balance will be displayed on their dashboard.
The funds will be held in a noncustodial wallet, meaning clients will not have as much freedom to move the coins from their wallets. The product will also feature a drag-and-drop option to move into their crypto account from the main account.
N26 will charge 20% trading fees, with Bitcoin discounted at 1.5%. N26 Metal account subscribers will be charged 1% for Bitcoin and 2.0% for other coins. Bitpanda, the firm powering the product, will pocket a commission for each trade on N26.
The feature will be rolled out to users in other markets in the coming six months with plans to expand their crypto portfolio to 194 coins.
N26 is not the first prominent fintech to explore this rabbit hole; it might be considered a latecomer. Fintech rivals Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, and Revolt, have already launched their clients’ crypto and Web 3.0 services.