Berliner mobilbank : what n26 did with my money

The fintech upstart doesn’t have its problems under control. Even for tolerant mid-twenties, a pain threshold has been reached. A field report.

At N26, all finances run in one app

It may seem completely absurd: If you sign up for a premium account with N26, you don’t get a more favorable overdraft facility or vouchers, for example. Berliner Mobilbank lures its paying customers mainly with prettier app designs or colorful debit cards. The motto: If you pay, you can’t save much on banking, but you can look good.

Yes, I too have thought about spending more than a hundred euros a year for the stylish bank card in my wallet and a red rather than green app logo. What should be a banality for older bank customers, mid-twenties like me seriously draw on for their purchasing decisions. N26 was the first bank to understand this: beautiful app design instead of personal advice, mobile payment instead of a large selection of products.

With the look and feel of a modern bank, N26 won me as a customer two years ago – mainly because of its digital offerings. I was one of the first to be able to pay at the supermarket with my smartphone, manage my finances in a single app. For N26 I am the predestined customer. Namely, someone who doesn’t need a service and doesn’t want to sign a home savings contract, but prefers to handle his transactions with just a few clicks.

Nice and simple banking at any price? Not quite. Even millennials have a pain threshold. Where mine lies, I have now found out. A transfer from my business account did not arrive for days on my N26 account. The money, several hundred euros after all, seemed to have disappeared in the confusion of the IT systems. A queasy feeling. And this is how I, the otherwise confident app user, became a clueless on the net.

The employee in the customer chat also let me feel this. He suspected that I had typed the Iban or the recipient name, i.e. my own name, incorrectly. Maybe it was the other bank’s fault from which the transfer originated. And in the end, I was a regrettable isolated case, the only one who had come forward with such problems.

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Bank admits to problems

The request of the employee: Patience. The motto: Somehow things will work out with the money. In the social networks other customers reported at the same time. They were also waiting to receive their referrals, some reportedly for over a week. An individual case? Hardly. Later, the bank admitted that more than a thousand transfers were posted late: "This week there was a delay in a small number of transactions, but in most cases of less than twelve hours," it says N26.

The new problems emerged when others had not yet been resolved at all. Back in early September, users complained that the bank had returned individual direct debits despite sufficient account coverage and instead collected them weeks later. For some of those affected, this had a nasty aftermath: they received reminders from companies waiting for their money to arrive.

Even before that, there were customer complaints

Some customers slipped into the red because the account was not covered when they were later debited. And others have in the meantime transferred the amount due from another account – and thus paid twice. As those affected told "Manager Magazin", cancellations were often no longer possible because the relevant deadline had passed. Even the customer service was helpless.

N26 contradicts: In the cases it would have been customers whose accounts were not sufficiently covered. Therefore another debit attempt could be started later. But the digital bank admits: "Our communication, which was supposed to give our customers more information and flexibility on how to handle direct debits, was apparently not sufficiently intuitive in some cases," explains Germany boss Georg Hauer. Any outstanding customer inquiries will be reviewed and resolved in a timely manner, the company promises.

I’d rather not have a premium account

I’m not interested in the colorful debit card anymore. Who knows if I could afford them at all. Finally, the feeling remains that I cannot be sure that my money is in my account.

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