N26’s Valentin Stalf, The Banking Revolutionist

Valentin Stalf
Valentin Stalf

2018 has been a year full of acknowledgments for Valentin Stalf, the co-founder and CEO of Berlin, Germany based mobile bank N26.

On May 26th, he was honored as the Founder of the Year 2018 of the University of St.Gallen (HSG). on December 13th, recognizing his effort to redesign banking for the 21st century, Stalf was named as Young Entrepreneur of the Year from Handelsblatt and Frank Thelen.

Born in October 4, 1985, in Vienna, Austria, Stalf studied Business Administration and obtained a Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance at University of St.Gallen.
Before N26, he was an Entrepreneur in Residence for Rocket Internet, a global incubator and investor in online startups helping several companies grow in the mobile payments industry, including payleven and Paymill GmbH. Previously, Stalf worked in strategy consulting and investment banking.

In 2013, he set up N26 along with Maximilian Tayenthal, Founder and CFO, a longtime friend, with whom shared the vision of building a bank that the world loved to use.
Initially launched in 2015, N26 leverages a digital business model to operate on a much lower cost base with lean organizational structures, without IT legacies and an expensive branch network passing on these cost benefits to customers. Stalf and Tayenthal planned to offer optimized banking for smartphones, via a simple and fast customer experience. Actually, an user can open an account through the mobile phone in a few minutes, send money to friends and contacts by e-mail or SMS in real time.

2018 was another year of exponential growth for the company. Today, N26 has more than 2 million customers across 24 countries (from less than 1m in 2017), with monthly transaction volume exceeding €1.5 billion. The company, which has a full banking license and more than 500 employees in Berlin, New York and the recently opened office in Barcelona, Spain, has raised $215m from Allianz X, Tencent Holdings Limited, Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, members of the Zalando management board and Earlybird Venture Capital.

According to Stalf, startups fail for no market need and – in order to avoid this – founders must think from the market side and not from the personal point of view. A hard believer in the MVP, he also thinks that “legal requirements for financial services are the benchmark in the FinTech sector“.
Stalf’s vision of reimaging and redesigning banking for the 21st century was confirmed by his comment on the recent launch in the UK. He said: “The UK is one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world. At N26, we have re-imagined banking for the digital age and as a result we’re the fastest growing mobile bank in all European markets we operate.
Backed by our state-of-the-art technology stack and an intuitive, user-centric design, today’s launch is the first step towards delivering the best digital banking experience possible for UK customers.

Demonstrating Stalf’s focus on products, during 2018, N26 launched Spaces, a fast way to set aside money based on a customer’s personal preferences and needs, and N26 Business Black, a premium business account for freelancers and self-employed individuals.  The company also partners with innovative fintech and traditional financial companies to offer customers such products as TransferWise (foreign exchange), Raisin (savings), Clark and Allianz (insurance), auxmoney (credit) and others.

N26 plans to enter the US market in 2019, a highly fragmented with inconsistent regulation across all 50 states. Another challenge he and his team will take on following a year of consistent growth.

Stalf currently is also a member of the advisory board at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.



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