A new kind of bank

The company’s founder Ali Niknam says that Bunq will be like a WhatsApp for payments. The app allows users to easily make payments to each other, or even share a single account as a group. It will also provide users with a card that they can use to withdraw money from ATMs. 

But having a formal banking license from DNB (De Nederlandsche Bank, which is the central bank of the Netherlands) gives Bunq an advantage over other existing payment apps. This license means that Bunq can also operate as a full-fledged bank, where customers get an IBAN bank account, can have their salary deposited, and can also make payments to other banks. Bunq is the first new independent bank to receive an official banking license in the Netherlands in ten years.

A trial version of Bunq was tested with about a thousand users in September. That trial was deemed a success, and Bunq is now open to everyone.

A disruptive startup

Unlike traditional banks, Bunq does not earn money by using its account holders’ money for other banking activities. Instead, its disruptive business model means that Bunq earns money from the small fees that it charges for some services. There are also plans to add extra paid business services in the future.

As Niknam told the NRC (Dutch link), “We are not going to make money with money. That really is our ideology.” By earning money exclusively from providing services to its customers, there is an extra incentive to concentrate entirely on the quality of those services.

Collaborating with established companies

Partly due to its banking license, Bunq is attracting a lot of attention in the banking sector. This is an example of why large businesses such as banks want to be involved with startups. Another recent example in Amsterdam is the new startup centre known as X, where ABN AMRO will be a founding partner, and KPMG will be opening an innovation lab. Collaborations like these allow companies to keep abreast of the latest technological developments.