Berlin, Germany - Sunday, Jun 19 2016
Upon arriving in Berlin, Number26 online banking was a relief. I didn’t have to wait in line for an appointment at some physical bank to open a bank account. I did almost everything online save for my identity verification which I had to complete at a Post Office. But here is the thing, I have always been skeptical with startups which is weird cos every organization was at some point a startup. And so is Number26 right now. But props to them for making the registration process easy and comfortable
I wasn’t very convinced it was a secure banking system. It was stress-free, minimalistic and convenient but it is also not well established and secure. That last part was more of an intuition and based on my insecurities with startups. I was convinced Number26 wasn’t exactly secure.
After using it for a couple of months I did indeed lose the feeling of insecurity with Number26. At least not until one of my coworker told me about his bank card being skimmed and used in another country. Lebanon. A card physically present in Germany was used for withdrawal in Lebanon. This guy lost about 500 euros that day but he got his money bank because, well, it wasn’t his fault. Later on he told me how the debited bank challenged the reimbursement of the money but yet again, that wasn’t his problem. It’s incredible how much money is lost in ATM spooling every year in the banking industry.
A couple of months later, another colleague using Number26 told me how he also lost some money due to ATM spooling. He was also able to reclaim his money so kudos to Number26 for that but I’m not sure if they have a choice since the guy did have a valid claim.
Before I go on, I should mention that it happened to me as well. It was 2 am on a Tuesday morning and I was having a nap when my phone buzzed with a notification that there was an unsuccessful attempt to withdraw money from my account in Indonesia and New York. Yes you heard that right. I was sleeping and my card was also sleeping in my wallet. I opened my email and I found these
These transactions where unsuccessful because I have a withdrawal limit of 100 euros on my account. How dumb was the person? Instead of decreasing the amount he was trying to withdraw, the moron increased it. Before that thought could enter his mind, I locked my card immediately.
I informed the customer service the same and my card was permanently blocked. The guy ordered a new card for me and the card arrived in 4 days. That’s pretty impressive I have no idea how bank card skimming is done but the customer service told me that the card was most probably cloned. Who is to blame here? The card provider who makes easily cloned cards or the ATM manufacturer who produces unsecure machines? I suppose it is both considering Number26 isn’t the only bank that suffers from ATM skimming.
Number26 provides a very sleek and secured Android app for its users where the user can safely manage operations on his card and account in general. Setting withdrawal and payment limits, receiving real time notifications on transactions, locking and unlocking the card and also choosing how the card can be used. Another just for the real time notifications.
What it doesn’t have that I do not appreciate is an authenticator like the one used by Google for 2-factor authentication. PIN theft is one of the main causes of credit card fraud and it wouldn’t hurt to have a PIN that changes periodically and cannot be reused. Considering that I can use the app to change my PIN anytime I want, I think it’s only wise that this feature is added. How it can be done is up to them to figure out. For this I take one thumbs up back
No, Number26 isn’t awesome. It is just good.