Not All Lenders Are Evil, German Banking Startup Tells Customers

(Bloomberg) --

Germany’s latest banking upstart has a message for the millennials it’s trying to lure away from giants like Deutsche Bank AG: We’re one of the good guys.

Hamburg-based Tomorrow, which offers free current accounts via mobile phones, promises to use customer deposits to finance only sustainable projects such as renewable energy and organic agriculture. The company claims that its strategy provides an antidote to traditional lenders that might finance a new coal-fired power plant or a genetically-modified-food company’s expansion.

Not All Lenders Are Evil, German Banking Startup Tells Customers

“We are a bank for people who want to change the world for the better,” co-founder Inas Nureldin, 37, said in an interview.

An increasing number of fintechs are putting banking services on smartphones. They are trying to take advantage of branch closures by traditional lenders, which is prompting more people to manage their accounts online.

By emphasizing the virtues of so-called impact banking, Tomorrow is also trying to differentiate itself from direct competitors such as N26, a German banking app backed by billionaires Peter Thiel and Li Ka-shing that has 2.5 million customers across Europe.

About 4,500 people in Germany have downloaded the Tomorrow app, which was officially launched two months ago. The company’s goal is to increase that number to 20,000 by the end of 2019. “We think it’s feasible to have around 1 million customers across Europe in three to five years,” Nureldin said.

Tomorrow offers current accounts via Solarisbank AG, a Berlin-based lender that that allows partners to use its banking license. As part of its expansion plan, Tomorrow will now also link up with Visa Inc. to offer its clients payment cards. For each new customer, the U.S. company -- which owns a stake in Solarisbank -- will pay for 100 trees to be planted in Brazil for a limited time.

“Tomorrow’s concept has excited us quickly,” said Albrecht Kiel, Visa’s regional managing director for Central Europe.

Tomorrow has set up an “Impact Board” to show customers what projects it invests in and make “sustainability transparent and tangible.” The company promises not to spend “a single cent” on armaments, coal-fired power or genetic engineering.

“Aren’t all banks evil?” Tomorrow asks on the site. “We thought that too -- and set out to change it.”

Original Story:
N26-Konkurrent Tomorrow verbündet sich mit Visa bei Kundensuche

Reporters on the original story: Stephan Kahl in Frankfurt at skahl@bloomberg.net;Andrew Blackman in Berlin at ablackman@bloomberg.net

Editors responsible for the original story: Erhard Krasny at ekrasny@bloomberg.net, Chris Reiter

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