N26 announces N26 You, a revamped premium account

Challenger bank N26 has unveiled a new premium plan called N26 You. This plan replaces N26 Black with the same benefits and a few tweaks.

N26 is keeping its three-tier system with a free basic bank account, a premium account (N26 You) and a super premium account (N26 Metal). With N26’s free plan, you can pay anywhere in the world without any foreign transaction fee, but there’s a 1.7% markup on ATM withdrawals in a foreign currency.

N26 You costs the same price as the previous premium plan N26 Black, €9.90 in the Eurozone and £4.90 in the U.K. In addition to a travel and purchase insurance package, you can withdraw money without any foreign transaction fee. €9.90 is roughly what you’d pay in fees if you withdraw the equivalent of €580 with a free N26 account.

You can also create up to 10 Spaces to organize your money with savings goals, separate sub-accounts and more — free accounts can only create two Spaces.

And of course, you get a better looking card. N26 is reusing its pastel color palette to give you more options. You can now choose between five different colors — Aqua, Rhubarb, Sand, Slate and Ocean. The card has a minimal design with a tiny N26 logo in the top left corner, a transparent line at the bottom of the card and a solid color background.

N26 also plans to add perks to the N26 You plan, such as discounts on Hotels.com, WeWork, GetYourGuide, Babbel, Blinkist and Bloom & Wild. Those perks were limited to N26 Metal customers in the past, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the lineup will work once those perks are added to N26 You. If you’re an existing N26 Black customer, you automatically become an N26 You customer.

Changing N26 Black to a premium plan with multiple card designs might seem like a small detail, but it potentially opens up a lot of possibilities. You’ll soon be able to order an additional card.

Eventually, you could imagine having a blue card associated with your main account and a yellow card associated with a shared Space sub-account for instance. At least, that’s what I hope the company will do.

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Dejbox wants to deliver food to offices in business districts at scale

Meet Dejbox, a French food delivery startup that tries to avoid busy cities in order to accommodate people who really need a new lunch option. The company is a food delivery startup that designs its own meals, works with other companies to cook them, sell them and deliver them.

“Corporate headquarters are more and more often far from city centers. But what about lunch options for those areas?” co-founder and co-CEO Vincent Dupied told me.

Answering this question creates logistical challenges more than anything else. It’s hard to cover wide areas that are spread out all around busy cities, such as Paris, Lille and Lyon. And Dejbox has made some radical decisions that set them apart from well-known companies, such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats or even Frichti.

Each delivery person drives a truck with 100 to 150 meals. This way, they can deliver multiple offices during one run. It means that customers can’t just order something and get it 30 minutes later.

They need to complete their order before 10:30am or 11am to get it for lunch time. And of course, you can also order multiple days in advance in case you don’t want to think about lunch for the rest of the week.

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When it comes to sales, Dejbox tries to spot the most promising companies to pitch them the service. After that, multiple employees usually order from Dejbox every day. It means that delivery persons carry multiple meals and leave them in the kitchen or at the reception desk.

“Our delivery persons are a bit like mail carriers, they have the same itinerary every day and their own clients,” Dupied said.

That’s why Dejbox wants to empower its delivery staff as much as possible. They’re all full-time employees and they get monthly reports telling them how much revenue they’ve generated for the company.

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This combination of low customer acquisition cost, low unit economics and high lifetime value has been working well. Partech first spotted them at the end of 2015 and invested a tiny $560,000 seed round (€500,000). Dejbox was only delivering 80 meals per day in the Lille area back then.

The startup quickly expanded to Paris and Lyon with the exact same focus on corporate headquarters in boring areas. In March 2017, Dejbox raised a $2.3 million Series A round (€2 million) from Partech and Leap Ventures. The company launched in Bordeaux a few months later.

And the company is quite transparent when it comes to metrics. During the first ~18 months, the startup generated $1.4 million in revenue, $4.5 million in 2017 and $11.3 million in 2018 (€1.2 million, €4 million and €10 million respectively).

This year, the company plans to generate $22.5 million in revenue (€20 million) and open two new cities — Nantes and Grenoble. Dejbox now delivers 10,000 people every day.

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N26 launches its challenger bank in the U.S.

European fintech startup N26 is now accepting customers in the U.S. The company is launching a bank account with a debit card that should provide a better experience compared to traditional retail banks.

If you’re familiar with N26, the product that is going live today won’t surprise you much. Customers in the U.S. can download a mobile app and create a bank account from their phone in just a few minutes. It’s a true bank account with ACH payments, routing and account numbers.

A few days later, you receive a debit card that you can control from the mobile app. Every time you make a transaction, you instantly receive a push notification telling you how much money you just paid. You can set up your PIN code, customize limits, turn on and off online payments, ATM withdrawals or payments abroad.

And that’s about all there’s to know. But what about fees? Basic N26 accounts are free. There’s no monthly fee and no minimum balance. There’s no fee on transactions in a foreign currency and you get two free ATM withdrawals per month.

N26 is going to progressively roll out signups over the summer as a sort of beta program. If you’ve signed up to the waitlist, you’ll get an invitation over the coming hours, days and weeks. There are currently 100,000 people on the waitlist. N26 will then open signups to everyone later this summer.

When N26 rolls out its final product in a couple of months, the company says that it plans to automatically find and reimburse fees the ATM operators are charging. N26 cards in the U.S. work on the Visa network instead of Mastercard.

Just like Chime, N26 will also try to let you get paid up to 2 days early if you get paid via direct deposit. Instead of waiting a couple of days to clear those transactions, N26 will go ahead and top up your account.

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White label

Behind the scene, there are a few differences between N26 in Europe and N26 in the U.S. While N26 has a full-fledged banking license in Europe, the company has partnered with Axos Bank who is acting as a white-label partner in the U.S.

Axos Bank essentially manages your money for you, and N26 acts as the interface between customers and their bank accounts. As a result, you get an FDIC-insured account.

N26 first partnered with a third-party company in Europe as well. But it was a costly deal that wasn’t meant to stick around. The startup got a banking license in Germany that was good for Europe at large. In the U.S., it’s a different story as the market is not as unified as in Europe — it’s complicated to get a license to operate in all 50 states.

“We looked at 30 players, we did some due diligence and we're happy to partner with Axos Bank. The deals that you get in the U.S. for white-label banks are much more favorable than in Europe,” N26 co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf told me. “It’s a setup for the longer term. It’s good for a couple million customers,” Stalf added later in the conversation.

Just a start

N26 is already planning more features for the U.S. The company plans to roll out two premium plans — N26 Metal and then N26 Black.

And it sounds like there will be some changes when it comes to perks for premium users. “We took that to a separate level,” Stalf said.

Another feature, shared Spaces are finally arriving in the coming months. Spaces are sub-accounts designed to put money aside. You can swipe money from one Space to another or you can set up automated rules.

Eventually, you’ll be able to share a Space with other people so that you can save money and spend money together. It’ll work “like a WhatsApp group,” Stalf said.

N26 currently has 3.5 million customers in Europe and has raised over $500 million in total so far. There are now a thousand people working for N26 in Berlin, 60 employees in New York, 80 people in Barcelona and a small team of 5 to 10 people starting soon in Vienna.

“It went from being a small company to being an international company,” Stalf said.

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VC firm Otium Venture becomes Frst and raises new fund

It’s a breakup of some sort, but with no hard feelings. The team behind Paris-based VC firm Otium Venture is creating a new management company called Frst and raising a new fund.

But first, let’s talk about Otium Venture. Smartbox founder Pierre-Edouard Stérin’s family office created Otium Venture and Otium Brands to manage his startup investments. Over the past four years, the Otium Venture team participated in a dozen seed rounds, such as Payfit, Doctrine and Owkin. It represented around $45 million in total (€40 million).

With Frst, the Otium Venture team is essentially creating a spinoff company with no connection to Pierre-Edouard Stérin’s family office. The team is still led by Pierre Entremont and Bruno Raillard, with Judith Tripard and Gabriel de Vinzelles also following them.

Frst is a more traditional VC firm with multiple limited partners investing in the first Frst fund (yep, first Frst fund). The firm has already raised $67 million (€60 million) from the European Investment Fund, Bpifrance, Axa Venture Partners, Ilkka Paananen and Mikko Kodisoja from Supercell, Michaël Benabou from Vente-Privée, Stanislas de Quercize from Cartier and others.

Eventually, Frst plans to reach $90 million (€80 million) with this fund.

Frst plans to invest at the seed level with investments ranging from €0.5 million to €3 million. They’re focusing on Paris-based startups and say that big tech companies are bound to appear here in France.

As for existing Otium Ventures investments? Pierre-Edouard Stérin and the Frst team have set up a consulting contract so that they can follow their investments after the change.

Bird plans to hire 1,000 people in Paris

Scooter startup Bird is betting on the French market in a significant way. The company plans to open up its biggest European office in Paris. Eventually, Bird wants to hire 1,000 people by mid-2021, which is a meaningful number for a company that has been around for a couple of years.

Paris is an important market for Bird, and all scooter startups in general. It’s a relatively small city — when it comes to footprint, Paris is smaller than San Francisco. But it’s also a dense city. And of course, there are a ton of tourists who come to Paris just for a few days.

That’s why 12 different companies launched a scooter-sharing service in Paris (yes, twelve). But Les Échos recently reported that many of them have already left the city. Lime, Bird, Circ, Dott, Jump and B-Mobility are still around.

It’s a capital-intensive industry, and Bird has already raised a ton of money to outlive the competition. But money is just one thing.

Opening an office in Paris is also important to show city officials that Bird is serious about this market. Last month, the City of Paris announced that it would limit the number of scooter companies in Paris. They will hand out two or three licenses to operate. And Bird certainly wants to be one of them.

Bird will also use its Paris hub to educate users about safety. The company plans to hand out free helmets if you attend a safety training session.

Revolut opens tech hub in Berlin

Fintech startup Revolut is opening a small tech hub in Berlin. There’s already a ton of fintech talent in the city as it’s the hometown of N26. The company plans to hire 80 people at first for many different tech jobs, from software engineering to data science, product and growth.

And this isn’t just about hiring talent in other cities. Revolut plans to customize its product a bit more for the German market, and more generally Europe.

In many ways, Revolut still feels like a British app. For instance, if you want to change your card PIN code, the company tells you to use an ATM to change it. This is simply not possible in Germany, France and many European markets.

And the team in Berlin will also work on Revolut’s commission-free stock trading feature, a sort of Robinhood competitor for Europe. The company is also working on an app for children, maybe as an alternative to a first bank account.

There are currently 150,000 Revolut users in Germany. . The company will have a local marketing and communications team to expand more aggressively in that market.

It’s still hard to create a global fintech app that works all around the world. People manage their money in different ways depending on the country you live in. And fintech startups are also realizing that now that they have a solid product offering at home.

Nintendo announces a handheld Nintendo Switch Lite for $199

Nintendo has unveiled a new Nintendo Switch called the Nintendo Switch Lite. As the name suggests, this console is a bit cheaper than the original Nintendo Switch, but it comes with a few drawbacks.

The biggest difference between the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Light is that you can’t connect the Switch Light to a TV. There’s no dock or port designed for TV connection.

That’s not the only compromise you’ll have to make as the Joy-Con controllers aren’t detachable. You can’t put your Switch on a table and keep the controllers in your hands for instance.

Of course, you can buy Joy-Con controllers or the more traditional Nintendo Switch Pro controller separately. You’ll have to find a way to charge your Joy-Con controllers without the Switch — the Charging Grip could do the job for instance.

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But other than that, you’ll be able to play the exact same games that you’ve been playing on the Switch. As long as games support handheld mode, they will work on the Switch Lite — nearly 100% of games work in handheld mode.

The Switch Lite is slightly smaller and slightly lighter than the Switch — 0.61 lbs versus 0.88 lbs (277 g versus 399 g). It features a 5.5-inch touch screen instead of a 6.2-inch touch screen.

If you were wondering what would come after the 3DS, it sounds like the Switch Lite is the perfect replacement for a cheap handheld console. And the good news is that you should get better battery life. Nintendo says you will be able to play for 3 to 7 hours. In their testings, they could play Zelda: Breath of the Wild during 4 hours.

Nintendo will release the Nintendo Switch Lite on September 20. The device will be available in multiple colors — yellow, gray and turquoise.

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Bunq lets you track and settle up group expenses

Fintech startup Bunq is announcing a handful of new features today, such as a way to track group expenses without creating a joint account, a web app and better Siri integration.

If you usually track vacation expenses and group expenses from your phone, chances are you’ve been using two different products — a mobile app like Splitwise to track group expenses with your friends, and a peer-to-peer payment app to settle up balances.

Bunq is essentially bundling these two features with Slice Groups for owners of the Bunq Travel Card. Given that the Bunq app already lists all your transactions, adding transactions to a group is easier than with your average group payment tracking app.

After adding other people to your Slice Group, each person can add expenses to the group. You get a list of your most recent Bunq transactions and you can add them to a group. You also can add manual transactions in case you paid for something using cash, for instance.

This is just a group accounting feature. When you add a transaction to a Slice Group, your money remains in your account. But you can see who has a positive balance and who has a negative balance.

When you settle up a group, people who owe money get a push notification. They can then tap on the notification and send money from their Bunq account to your friends’ Bunq accounts.

This feature will work particularly well for groups of people who all use the Bunq Travel Card. But it doesn’t fundamentally change how you manage your money with groups.

Bunq now has two tiers of users. Free users get a travel card with an account that they can top up. Paid users get a full-fledged bank account with banking information.

Multiple paid users can already create joint accounts with their roommates or partner. You can then associate your Bunq card with a joint account and spend money from that joint account directly.

So if you have a Bunq Travel Card, Slice Groups are for you. If you have a Bunq bank account, joint accounts are for you.

Revolut doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, either, as you can only split individual card transactions with other users. It could take a while to settle all transactions after a long vacation. Revolut also lets you create Group Vaults. Those are sub-accounts to put some money aside and invite other people to contribute. But only the admin can withdraw and spend money from those vaults.

N26 has promised Shared Spaces so that you can create sub-accounts and share them with other people. But the feature isn’t live yet.

Lydia’s take on group expenses works more like Bunq’s joint accounts. You can create sub-accounts and share those accounts with other people. Everyone can then top up that account and attach a payment method, such as a payment card or a virtual card in Apple Pay or Google Pay. You also can move expenses from one sub-account to another. When you’re back from vacation, you can associate your card with your personal Lydia account again.

In addition to Slice Groups, Bunq is launching a web interface to access your bank account. It works a bit like WhatsApp’s web app. You scan a QR code with your phone and you can then control the mobile app from a desktop web browser.

Bunq should also work better with Siri. You can now send money using your voice or change card settings. Finally, the startup has also made improvements to its business accounts with a few new features. For instance, you can now automatically put money aside to pay back VAT later down the road.

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The Raspberry Pi 4 doesn’t work with all USB-C cables

The Raspberry Pi 4 is a great little beast, but Tyler Ward identified a flaw in the USB Type-C connector. The Raspberry Pi Foundation confirmed to TechRepublic that the design flaw is real, and that your Raspberry Pi 4 might not work with all USB-C cables.

It’s not really a dealbreaker, but you can expect a future board revision with a proper implementation of the USB-C protocol. But if you find yourself scratching your head and you don’t understand why your Raspberry Pi is not powering up, now you know why.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released the schematics of the board. And there’s a missing CC resistor that let sophisticated chargers negotiate current with the device.

Given that USB-C is a complicated connector, some cables are electronically marked, which means that they have an integrated chip to support a wide range of devices.

For instance, you can use a MacBook Pro charger with plenty of USB-C devices. The charger just figures out how much power it needs to deliver.

But the Raspberry Pi 4 doesn’t support electronically marked cables, such as Apple’s USB-C cables or Google’s Pixel 3 cables. The device is incorrectly identified as an audio adapter accessory.

Fortunately, it doesn’t damage the Raspberry Pi 4 and it doesn’t create any fire hazard. The device just doesn’t power up.

"I expect this will be fixed in a future board revision, but for now users will need to apply one of the suggested workarounds. It's surprising this didn't show up in our (quite extensive) field testing program,” Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton told TechRepublic.

A simple workaround is to buy a non e-marked cable or charger. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is selling an $8 USB-C charger for instance. In my testing, it has been working fine for the past couple of weeks.

Karamel is an app to find activities for your kids

French startup Karamel wants to help you find things to do for your kids. The company is launching a mobile app that lets you find and book kid-friendly activities around you.

The startup also just raised a $560,000 round (€500,000) from Kima Ventures, Roxanne Varza, Thibaud Elzière and Oleg Tscheltzoff. Varza participates in the Atomico Angel Programme, which means that Atomico handed out $100,000 to invest in multiple early-stage companies. Atomico and Varza both see returns if the company eventually succeeds.

Karamel wants to become a one-stop shop for things your kids can do. When you open the app, you get a curated selection of activities around you so that you can find something to do this weekend, for instance.

If you’re looking for something specific, you can search for activities based on multiple criteria, such as the age of your child, an activity category, price, distance and day of the week.

You also can find recurring activities in case your child really wants to learn a new instrument or start a new sport, for instance.

On the other side of the marketplace, there are many different organizations in charge of activities. It’s a fragmented market, and those organizations don’t always know how to reach parents efficiently.

Thanks to Karamel, those organizations should get more traffic and could focus more on activities themselves. The startup doesn’t charge any monthly subscription fee. Instead, Karamel is taking a cut on transactions. Parents pay the same price if they book directly or though Karamel.

The service is currently live in Paris. And if you live in Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux or Montpellier, you can search for activities but can’t book through the app just yet.

In the U.S., KidPass provides something vaguely similar, but with a monthly subscription fee. KidPass opted for a credit-based system like Audible or ClassPass.

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