How N26 Is Delivering Digital Disruption Across Global Banking

German neobank N26 is disrupting the banking market and paving the way for a new generation of financial services companies.

Advancements in digital technologies, the prevalence of smartphones, and an appetite for a personalised customer experience are fueling the popularity of online banks. In fact, a report from Grand View Research indicates that global neobanking market size is expected to top $2 billion by 2030.

As a digital-only bank founded in 2013, N26 has been at the heart of driving disruption across the global banking sector. The company was named the “top-performing bank worldwide” in Forbes“The World’s Best Banks 2021.”

We spoke with Arno Schleussner, director of finance and capital planning at N26, and Hamish Knight, head of global procurement at N26, to learn about the company’s strategy, the trends driving the uptake of digital banking, and the organisation’s future plans.

For N26, deploying Workday Financial Management in 2020, during the peak of the pandemic, was a challenging yet game-changing decision.

A New Way to Bank

According to a McKinsey report on Europe’s digital migration, the region’s banking sector has seen the number of digital users surge by 23% since the start of the pandemic. Yet, even before the arrival of COVID-19, N26 had been founded with a clear mission—to reshape the banking experience and to make it easier and more transparent for customers. 

“We are filling the gap in the market by creating a unique digital experience that can delight our customers,” said Knight.

Creating a 100% mobile banking experience without the burden of a costly physical branch network has allowed N26 to quickly gain market share across Europe. However, it is the company’s technology infrastructure and use of cloud computing that really drives disruption and enables agility.

“Building a cloud-based bank in an industry that is heavily reliant on legacy IT systems gives us a big competitive edge. Despite being a bank, we identify ourselves as a product-driven technology company,” said Schleussner. “Agility is not only at the very heart of our product development, it also goes through every fibre of the organisation,” he added.

Schleussner explained how a period of hypergrowth in 2019, when N26 not only tripled its customer base but also its employee base, led to the search for a technology partner that could help the business transform its internal processes. 

“We were faced with a situation where our internal processes did not mirror the smooth digital banking experience that people knew from our app … it was absolutely essential for us to have a platform that could flex and scale with our growth,” said Schleussner.

“Building a cloud-based bank in an industry that is heavily reliant on legacy IT systems gives us a big competitive edge.”

 

Arno Schleussner Director of Finance and Capital Planning N26

Banking Transformation, Powered by Innovation

The pandemic tested the mettle of most organisations. For N26, deploying Workday Financial Management in 2020, during the peak of the crisis, was a challenging yet game-changing decision.

“What I am most proud about, in terms of the implementation, is that in the middle of an unforeseen situation we were able to shift the project to fully remote, and at the same time engage the whole team, and still deliver the ready product on time and at the highest quality,” said Schleussner.

Before N26 embarked on its Workday journey, its people had to navigate multiple platforms to complete their tasks and couldn’t easily view financial data or access real-time reports. Bringing finance and HR together under one system has broken down these challenges and improved access to data to make better, faster decisions.

“We had a friction-heavy system for our back-office teams like finance and accounting. Workday enabled us to access real-time financial data, and create visibility around spend behaviours, and make that transparency available to the users in the system,” explained Schleussner.

Knight described how having everything on one platform not only reduced labour-intensive processes, such as the use of spreadsheets, but also created an uptick in staff productivity and engagement. “The ability to have everything under one roof ensures great collaboration between teams,” said Knight.

“At N26 our mission is to delight customers, and the stability of Workday allows us to focus on what really matters—offering the world’s best digital banking experience.” 

 

Hamish Knight Global Sourcing Director N26

Investing In the Future

Innovation is a constant in the financial services sector, and for N26, investing in the technology that will continue to drive a competitive advantage is key.

“We’re committed to continually improving, and that means constantly investing in finance innovation,” said Schleussner.

To support its future growth, N26 intends to invest in a more collaborative and companywide planning infrastructure by deploying Workday Adaptive Planning in the near future. This will enable the company to have financial management, human capital management, and planning capabilities on one platform.

“At N26, our mission is to delight customers, and the stability of Workday allows us to focus on what really matters—offering the world’s best digital banking experience,” said Knight.

Interested in how Workday can help your financial services organisation in Europe? Contact our expert in this area, Viren Patel to learn more.

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