Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Invests in Number26 Mobile-Bank Startup

  • German company raises $40 million to expand banking services
  • Existing investors Valar, Earlybird also contributed

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizon Ventures led a $40 million investment round in mobile-banking startup Number26 GmbH, which will use the money to expand its services and go after customers from traditional banks including Deutsche Bank AG and Banco Santander SA.

Berlin-based Number26, which has more than 200,000 clients in eight European countries, plans to use the money to integrate new products including savings, investment and credit, said Chief Executive Officer Valentin Stalf. Number26 will decide this year whether to expand to the U.K., depending on the outcome of Thursday’s referendum on whether the nation will leave the European Union, he said.

“There’s still so much potential to change retail banking in Europe,” Stalf said by phone. “People are ready to transition to mobile banking.”

Number26 is among a growing number of financial technology startups that focus on putting services on smartphones to grab customers from traditional banks. The company operates in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Greece and Slovakia. The latest funding also included investments from Battery Ventures and existing investors Earlybird Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Redalpine Ventures and Zalando SE executives including Rubin Ritter.

Number26, which employs about 140 people, doesn’t have a banking license; clients’ accounts are opened with the banking unit of German payment processor Wirecard AG. The startup in February integrated international transfers from TransferWise Ltd. into its product.

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