The comparison portal Check 24 will launch its own bank on Tuesday. The company has officially applied for a banking license under the name “C24” and is now recruiting customers for current accounts. There are said to be three account types, including a free account with a free debit card from Mastercard. With the, customers should be able to withdraw money free of charge at practically all ATMs in Germany, but the number of free withdrawals per month is limited to different amounts depending on the account model. Customers should also receive construction loans, installment loans and financial investments such as overnight and fixed-term deposits via the bank – however, the bank does not offer these products itself, but provides them via its comparison platforms from other banks (“open banking”). This way, customers should get more attractive interest rates than at their house bank, said Christoph Röttele, CEO and spokesman for the management at Check 24.
The new bank is also attracting some attention because Check 24 claims that it has around 15 million customers and has large advertising budgets. However, the company does not say that it wants to roll up the German banking market and does not even want to say whether it is aiming for a number of customers like ING Germany or Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank: “We want to be perceived by customers as the bank, at of customers make more of their money, ”said Röttele.
6.99 percent overdraft interest
The preferred way for customers to access the new bank is to use a smartphone with a corresponding app, but there is also a somewhat more cumbersome access option via stationary computers. Access to the account should be linked to the respective smartphone in order to make phishing of account data pointless; Even with a stolen smartphone alone, you shouldn’t get to the account, as Röttele explained.
Anyone who has previously had their current account and, for example, mortgage lending at another bank should integrate this connection into the app and thus be able to see all the data on their accounts at a glance (“multibanking”). The corresponding data would have to be made available by the other banks, said Röttele, according to the payment service provider guideline PSD 2. The other products such as loans or savings would be mediated by the comparison platform; for this, the respective banks give a commission to the comparison platform, some of which is passed on to the C24 bank.
In addition to the fee-free current account “Smartkonto”, where transfers should not cost anything extra, there is also a “Pluskonto” for 5.90 euros and a “Maxkonto” for 9.90 euros per month, which each provide additional services such as insurance Have cards or a “cashback” function where you can get up to 30 euros back per month if you use certain services and collect the corresponding points.
The new bank wants to be climate neutral
With the free current account, the bank wants to earn from the commissions, but also from the overdraft interest for the account. The discount rate for this is 6.99 percent at the start and thus at the lower end of the range in Germany. The account should be opened completely digitally in the app via a video chat. The bank wants to offer a certain amount of advice by phone, in the more expensive account models also via video. The bank wants to be climate neutral and therefore offsets the impact of its business activities by investing in climate protection projects.
This makes the battle for German bank customers even more difficult than it already is. Business in this country is generally considered to have low margins. This is another reason why more and more bank branches are being closed.
First of all, that’s good news for customers. Because you have one more free account to choose from. However, there is likely to be less enthusiasm for the new Check 24 offer in the banking market. Because their business fields have always been under pressure from various sides.
On the one hand, there is the private customer business. Here, the traditional branch banks are likely to be less under pressure. If you wanted to switch to a direct bank, you could have done that years ago, you didn’t need a check 24. That is why direct banks like ING or neobanks like N26 are more likely to be seen as competitors. And they have been feeling the headwinds of the competition for some time: ING, for example, no longer has an unconditionally free current account. Now you have to pay 700 euros every month, otherwise it costs 4.90 euros a month. The “Extra Account” overnight money offer is only available to existing customers. Other direct banks have recently been increasingly linking their offers to conditions. At that time, Neobank N26 took a different approach and unceremoniously canceled some customers who are said to have used their accounts too intensively.
The reason, even if it is a rush: The low interest rates spoil the direct banks even more than the business anyway. The mantra of more customers is history. ING has already admitted this more or less officially. That is why one no longer relies on new customer growth at any price. ING, in particular, which is itself involved in the sale of insurance, advises on securities and has its own cashback offers, is likely to feel threatened here. On the other hand, many banks try to keep customer deposits at bay because they put a strain on the margin. The Check 24 offer could therefore be more welcome than many people currently think.