Josselin Dionisi - Freelance developer

Online banking, a look back at N26

ionicons-v5-k Josselin Dionisi May 8, 2023
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For once, I'm not going to talk purely about web development, but rather about the digital lifestyle?

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about online banking.

I must admit that I fell for it at the time (and following a lot of advice too, because marketing isn't everything?) and created an account with N26.

The conclusion? I still use it as a secondary account today.

Online banking VS traditional banking

Tech people understand each other when it comes to getting things done as quickly and easily as possible. So imagine if you could manage your expenses and savings this way? That's what online banking is all about, meaning your bank on a mobile app in your pocket.

"But what's an online bank? Because my traditional bank has made an app that's already very good?"

Well, probably, but actually no. On the whole, you lose the notion of simplicity and speed I was talking about with most traditional bank apps.

And for good reason: they seek to recreate the experience of physical banks, not to simplify uses and needs.

Need your bank details? No need to search through indigestible sub-menus via documents and download a PDF summarizing your banking details. With an online bank, you click on your profile and it's all there.

This is just an example, but there are lots of little things simplified like this that will save you an incredible amount of time!

How does it work?

You create an account, create a virtual bank card and, depending on the offer you choose, you can also order a physical one.

That's all there is to it. Your bank account is open, and you have access to a RIB and account statement in real time.

Contactless payments, instant or manual transfers and even savings (thanks to N26 Spaces) are now possible just like in a real bank. What's more, I recently learned that even certain loans are now possible.

"Okay, that's great, but what good is a second bank to me?

Using the application

For me, since I travel a lot and often abroad, the main advantage was to eliminate foreign currency conversion fees.

If you take a trip to Switzerland, for example, since they don't have the euro, your French bank will charge you for every card payment. This is linked to the exchange rate between the Swiss franc and the euro.

With N26, there's no such charge: you pay the actual amount shown on your receipt.

But there are many other advantages! When you pay at a restaurant, you'll immediately see the amount debited on your N26 account statement. By statement, I mean a notification on your phone.

In the same way as you receive a message from your best friend, you see live what you've just spent. How's that not cool? At the moment, yes, but if it can help you save money, that's pretty cool?

For example, you can create a sub-account in the app specifically for your outings. You can then put in as much or as little money as you like, so you don't go over budget. Another great way to save money!

Last but not least, N26 is crypto-friendly, so you'll have no problem buying Bitcoin or other crypto using your account. Which is clearly not the case with traditional banks today?

Conclusion

"All in all there really are no constraints or drawbacks?"

As with anything, of course there are.

The main one is that you won't be able to use it as your main bank. But that's not the fault of N26 or any other entity. It's mainly that most French organizations don't accept foreign RIBs. Among other things, to pay your taxes, receive your salary or sometimes even pay rent.

Another much lighter constraint concerns your tax return. Since you're opening a new account, and a foreign one at that (again, in the case of N26, other French online banks also exist), you need to declare its existence to the authorities.

Fortunately, a ready-made guide is available on the N26 website.

To sum up, I've tried online banking and I've been using it for 3 years now. It offers me services and real-time monitoring of my spending, and for that alone I can't find any better in physical banks.