Q&A: N26 chief growth officer talks reprioritizing product plans to meet customer needs

  • N26 is giving people what they want amid the pandemic. 
  • We spoke with the neobank’s chief growth officer about how it revamped its offerings to better reflect consumer needs.
  • Insider Intelligence publishes hundreds of research reports, charts, and forecasts on the Banking industry. Learn more about becoming a client.

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing digital banking to the forefront, neobanks have had a massive opportunity in the past year to showcase their digital-first capabilities. But these challengers have also been forced to reevaluate many of their offerings, as pressures like falling interest rates and changes in spending habits rock their value propositions.

Insider Intelligence spoke with Alex Weber, chief growth officer of N26, about adapting to new industry dynamics, and how the fast-growing German neobank—which has operations in Europe, the US, and soon Brazil—is harnessing pandemic-driven trends to its benefit. 

The following has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Insider Intelligence (II): What have been some of the biggest challenges presented by the pandemic?

Alex Weber (AW):During the pandemic, the overarching challenge was to reprioritize products and pivot to make sure we deliver features quickly, and make sure that the education and awareness around N26 and those features was also there with people who just started considering digital banking. Pivoting that to new demographics as soon as possible was a challenge.

The other minor challenge was that our product and our proposition historically has been very appealing to travel audiences, especially in Europe, where our premium subscription products—N26 You and N26 Metal—have very attractive exchange rates and travel insurance…So when international travel naturally dipped, we rebalanced the value proposition of some of our products. They had to reflect more of the domestic use case, including more partnerships for customers, and less of a travel use case.

II: Did the pandemic specifically inform N26’s product roadmap and expansion plans?

AW: We had to reprioritize features to ensure they were digitally relevant for consumers, helping them bank from home and spend with confidence, even amid the crisis. In November we launched N26 Smart in Europe, which was very much about the day-to-day optimized proposition that is not connected with travel.

There’s been an interesting acceleration in trends for new demographics who have been confronted with figuring out how to do their banking when they’re completely at home and everything’s digital. And we had to figure out how to pivot part of our proposition to make that even more relevant. For example, in the US, we launched mobile payments to enable more contactless payments and support secure online payments.

And in Europe, we offered instant card issuing as an opportunity for customers who sign up to then immediately use their card digitally and start spending even before the physical card arrives. In under 10 minutes, they can go from just signing up in their living room to actually spending online. These were some focus areas that we’ve reprioritized and reorganized to make sure we deliver the highest level of relevance to our new and existing customers.

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