Digital challenger bank N26 has pulled back from its UK launch plans

Lynsey Barber
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TechCrunch Disrupt London 2016 - Day 2
Challenger bank N26's Valentin Stalf revealed expansion plans elsewhere on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt (Source: Getty)
he German digital challenger bank N26 has pulled back on its plans to launch in the UK as it pushes forward with expansion elsewhere in Europe, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.

The startup which is seeking to disrupt the established banks, and whose peers include the likes of Monzo, Tandem and Atom in the UK, announced its expansion to 17 new countries across Europe on Tuesday.

However, the UK is not one of these countries despite founder and chief executive Valentin Stalf revealing plans over the summer for launching in the UK as early as the end of this year.

Read more: Another challenger bank just got its banking licence

A spokesperson said a decision on whether or not it will launch in the UK has not yet been taken and wouldn't be until "towards the middle of 2017" in an apparent u-turn for the challenger backed by PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel. They added that the UK market was "a very attractive one when it comes to digital banking and payments".

It's foray into the UK was seen as a stamp of approval for tech business in the country, coming just weeks after the vote for Brexit. The fintech startup announced it had been granted a banking license to operate across Europe by the German regulator Bafin and would not apply for a license to operate in the UK specifically unless it was required to as a result of Brexit.

Stalf said at the time it would be in a strong position in the UK market where challengers have been encouraged by regulators, but would not rival the UK's homegrown startups, taking on the traditional banks instead. He also said the startup planned to build a business here, eventually hiring people "on the ground".

Read more: Tandem is go: Another digital challenger bank has opened its doors

The company has instead expanded further across the Eurozone, announcing at the TechCrunch Disrupt tech conference that it will now serve 17 markets, up from eight in July. Bank accounts with mobile-only N26 are now available widely in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece and Slovakia after a limited soft launch last year. New countries also include: Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Netherlands, Finland, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The firm also plans to add new features into the app by partnering with other providers. That will include savings, investments, credit and insurance products.

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