But now co-founder and co-head Maximilian Tayenthal has said: In order to ensure the security of the N26 platform, they have zero tolerance for financial crime, use the latest technologies and continuously develop the systems for detecting and preventing fraud, wrote he in a LinkedIn post last weekend.
In one of the new measures, which started on April 14, “unfortunately, a number of accounts were closed by mistake,” it said. “I can imagine how stressful and frustrating an unexpected situation like this must be, and I want to offer my sincere apologies to the customers who have been impacted,” Tayenthal wrote.
The Handelsblatt is aware of 60 cases of users mainly based in Germany, but also from Italy and Belgium, who have not had access to their accounts since mid-April.
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There are also numerous complaints from other customers on Twitter, including those from France. Some customers who were still able to log into their account even say that N26 withdrew the entire amount from the account.
N26: Little to no account closure information
Customers have received the same letter from the online bank, stating that N26 has detected a breach of terms and conditions on the account in question. “Therefore, we declare the extraordinary termination of your N26 account.” The termination takes place in accordance with the “Basic rules for the relationship between customer and bank”. The termination takes effect immediately.
So far, the affected customers have received little or no information about their account closures, even when asked. N26 justifies the scant provision of information by saying that “our customer service is legally prohibited from sharing information about affected accounts during this time” – even to the respective account holders.
This is to prevent cybercriminals from receiving information about ongoing investigations and prevent fraudsters from using this information to avoid being detected in the future, according to an N26 blog post published last week.
The co-boss replied to a user who complained, among other things, about N26’s approach to closing accounts under Tayenthal’s LinkedIn post: This is not the experience that N26 customers deserve.
Tayenthal promised another user: “The most important thing is that it was a one-time error that we not only fixed, but also made sure that this error cannot happen again in the future,” he wrote in response.
Whether error or not: If N26 has to terminate an account, “this termination is final,” said an N26 spokeswoman at the request of the Handelsblatt. This means that the account cannot be opened again, even if the fault lies with the smartphone bank itself.
>> Read also: N26’s mistake: What the established banks learn from it
The situation is different with a block: If an account is blocked for a certain period of time, N26 checks whether a “specific suspicion underlying the blocking” is confirmed, said the N26 spokeswoman. If this is not the case, the account will be released again, it is said.
Neobank N26 is in the process of contacting affected customers directly to ensure the matter is resolved as soon as possible, Tayenthal continued in his post.
N26 has been under pressure for a long time
In fact, according to Handelsblatt information, some of those affected received a message from N26 last weekend. Accordingly, the smartphone bank asks for the data of an alternative bank account to which N26 can transfer the money. The Handelsblatt is aware of individual cases, according to which outstanding funds were received on the specified alternative accounts on Monday.
The smartphone bank N26 has long been under pressure from European authorities such as the German and Italian banking regulators to improve its money laundering and fraud controls. In the past two years in particular, there have been numerous cases of scammers using N26 accounts to transfer criminally looted money abroad.
The financial regulator Bafin had therefore sent a money laundering supervisor to the institute and capped the fintech’s new business, while the Banca d’Italia completely stopped taking on new customers in Italy.
The neobank was founded in 2013 by Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal, who are co-heads of N26.
More: Trouble again at N26 – smartphone bank terminates numerous accounts without notice.
This article first appeared on April 25, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.