N26 opens tech hub in Vienna with a focus on security

Fintech startup N26 is opening an office, its fourth, in Vienna. Eventually, the company plans to hire 300 software engineers, product managers and IT specialists.

N26 is building a mobile bank and has managed to attract 2.5 million users over the past few years. It raised a $300 million round back in January.

This is interesting news, as the company says that the new tech hub will focus on security, in particular detecting fraudulent activity. N26 plans to use artificial intelligence to develop a sort of real-time risk scoring system. The company will compare card transactions with your smartphone location, as well.

Multiple articles have highlighted a handful of cases of fraud in recent weeks. Customers tried to use N26 for money-laundering purposes. It took some time before N26 reacted and closed those accounts.

Every bank suffers from this kind of issue. In France, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole and Crédit Mutuel have all been fined in the past, for instance. But it’s interesting to see how N26 is reacting to those risks.

N26 has experienced tremendous growth, and the startup wants to scale its workforce appropriately so that it’s not short-staffed when faced with those issues. Similarly, it creates challenges when it comes to customer support and average response time.

It’s in the company’s best interest to follow strict rules when it comes to fraudulent activity — as a company with a banking license, N26 is regularly audited. N26 sent me the following statement a couple of weeks ago regarding audits:

N26, as all licensed banks, is subject to regular internal and external independent audits, including those by regulatory bodies such as BaFin, the German Financial Authority. Since we have a German bank license, we’re supervised by BaFin and audited on a regular basis. Any findings are promptly reviewed, implemented and monitored in coordination with the BaFin. We strive to meet all requirements consistently and take any required measures as quickly as possible.

As a bank it is imperative to continuously evaluate and improve all our structures, safety measures and service. We continuously invest in our security systems, customer support, and in hiring the right talent. To ensure we have the right talent to handle our responsibilities as a bank, we’ve increased our company size to more than 1,000 employees. The number of employees in customer service alone has tripled in the last year, and we will continue to grow across all departments to ensure regulatory compliance and serve our customers in the best way.

That’s why today’s news makes a ton of sense. There are already hundreds of people working for N26 in Berlin. Opening a new office in Vienna is a way to reach a new talent pool and make sure N26 is at least as secure as a traditional bank.

The team in Vienna will also work on shared Spaces and peer-to-peer payment improvements so you can create sub-accounts and share them with other N26 users. The startup also launched local IBANs for new users in Spain today. The company currently has offices in Berlin, Barcelona and New York.