German fintech N26 has become one of the first members of 2019's unicorn club after raising $300 million in a round led by Insight Venture Partners.
Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC supported the investment, which values the company at $2.7 billion. The money will be used to support its US launch, due in the first half of this year. N26 is a mobile-only bank that has more than 2.3 million customers across 24 European countries and has processed more than €20 billion worth of transactions since its launch.
With Europe already proving fertile ground for fintech, particularly with the EU-directed move toward open banking and the PSD2 payments directive gaining pace, the move stateside continues the proliferation of digital banking across the globe.
Indeed, the US market for banking fintech is still relatively nascent compared with Europe. For example, contactless payments, which have been common across the world for several years, are only starting to catch on in the US. And data collated by Statista suggests in-person mobile payments in the US could hit more than $34 billion this year, up from $23 billion in 2018.
These projections have led to a growing number of fintech startups developing domestically. One of the country's biggest in the banking niche, Chime, raised a $70 million Series C last year, a relatively small amount compared to Europe's leading pack. And now, the continent's big players are headed west.
N26's mammoth valuation comes less than five years after the company was founded, and it continues a trend in fintech of fat valuations coming fast. Revolut, for instance, reached its $1.7 billion valuation with a $250 million Series C last April, just three years after launching.
The backing is also the largest VC deal for a fintech since the $300 million investment in Coinbase this past October, per PitchBook data, and the largest for a banking startup on record. The round itself comes less than a year after N26 raised $160 million in Series C funding led by Allianz X and Tencent.
Check out highlights from 2018's record-breaking year for fintech investment.