N26 closing all U.K. mobile banking accounts, blaming Brexit

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N26, the German mobile bank backed by billionaires Peter Thiel and Li Ka-Shing, said it will end U.K. operations citing the country’s departure from the European Union.

The Berlin-based digital bank will close U.K. accounts on April 15, N26 said in a statement Tuesday. A spokesman told Bloomberg that the company has “several hundred thousand” customers in the country and all of them will be affected. Those with money in their accounts will need to withdraw or transfer it by the deadline and payments received after that date will be returned to the sender.

The billionaire investor Peter Thiel is among N26's largest backers.
The billionaire investor Peter Thiel is among N26's largest backers.

N26 blamed Brexit for the abrupt withdrawal. The firm started services in the U.K. in October 2018, more than two years after the country voted to leave the EU, calling the market its first outside of the euro zone. Still, the company said that the timings and framework outlined in the withdrawal agreement mean that it won’t be able to operate in the U.K. with its EU banking license.

“While we fully respect the decision that has been taken, it means that N26 will in due course be unable to serve our customers in the U.K. and will have to leave the market,” Chief Banking Officer Thomas Grosse said in the statement.

The bank said the majority of N26’s staff in the U.K. will move into new roles at the company.

N26 was valued at $3.5 billion in its July funding round and is backed by investors including German insurer Allianz SE, Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Li’s Horizons Ventures, China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

Bloomberg News
Digital banking Consumer banking Peter Thiel U.K.