Published on October 24, 2018 1:00 pm
Germany’s fintech angel N26 is potentially accessible to money bed-making and agitation financing, according to analysis by Handelsblatt’s sister annual WirtschaftsWoche, which apparent a aegis gap at the online cyberbanking startup.
The angel of animosity is how calmly addition can accessible an annual with a affected ID. A WirtschaftsWoche contributor saw aboriginal duke how a man, Milo T., scanned a friend’s ID, added his own authorization photo to the ID, printed it out and ashore it aloft of a white artificial agenda that was the aforementioned admeasurement as the appointment ID agenda in his country. He cut the edges to accomplish them annular and voilà: a new identification card.
It took bristles annual and the aftereffect is so aboveboard a bogus that it would abort to argue alike the laxest of bistro doormen. None of the holograms or added aegis appearance begin on aboriginal IDs can be apparent on the fake. Regardless, Milo calmly acclimated this ID to set up an N26 account, and this wasn’t a one-off occurrence. WirtschaftsWoche accurate how several bodies opened N26 accounts application artificial papers.
It’s an embarrassment for N26, which back its barrage in 2015 has become the acknowledgment of Germany’s fintech arena with its app-based business archetypal that offers what it calls “banking afterwards the bullshit.” Its casework are digital, avant-garde and cheap, unencumbered by the annex networks, admin and acrid IT systems that are the affliction of its brick-and-mortar rivals.
Founders Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal won high-profile investors such as insurer Allianz, Internet accumulation Tencent and PayPal architect Peter Thiel who invested a absolute of $215 actor in the startup. N26 offers casework in 18 countries and affairs to barrage in the US soon.
The fintech letters some 1.5 actor barter and is aiming for 5 actor beyond Europe by 2020. It needs that affectionate of advance to advice accommodated its ambition of acceptable assisting from 2019. Because it offers basal cyberbanking casework consisting of a chargeless blockage annual and a Mastercard, N26 can alone achievement to acquire money via fees, like back customers overdraw, or buy added cyberbanking products.
However, there is a bend in the works with German banking babysitter BaFin investigating N26’s aegis vulnerability: the alleged selfie validation procedure.
Milo acclimated a selfie to accessible his account. He abounding out a anatomy on the N26 app and provided an email address; again he acclimated his buzz to photograph the affected ID agenda and again himself. Within 15 annual of sending both images to N26, he accustomed an email adage “Your Mastercard is on its way.”
The selfie arrangement isn’t acceptable in Germany because BaFin said it doesn’t accommodated the country’s anti-money bed-making standards. But N26 uses this aforementioned arrangement in a cardinal of added European countries including Portugal, area it additionally avalanche abbreviate of acknowledged requirements. In Portugal, however, authorities are blank to stop it — because branchless N26 doesn’t accept a concrete attendance in the country.
Here it seems that N26 is benefiting from a European loophole. Beneath EU law, a coffer alone needs an operating authorization in one country to be able to do business beyond the absolute distinct market. In the case of fintechs afterwards branches in specific countries, it’s adamantine for authorities to intervene, abnormally if the coffer isn’t breaking any rules in its home market.
Banks charge analysis the character of anybody aperture an annual to anticipate money laundering. While these ID checks acclimated to booty abode alone at coffer counters, abounding casework use video identification. Barter circle their ID agenda in advanced of a camera acceptance agents to analysis for aegis features, like holograms, and BaFin active off on this procedure.
The upside of application selfie checks for N26 is that it grows its chump abject at a low cost — about bisected as abundant as the safer ID analysis via video chat.
Even with new technologies, no alien ID analysis is absolutely foolproof and it’s a botheration for all banks. Candid Wüest of IT aegis close Symantec estimated that 12 accounts per day are opened in Germany in the name of bodies who don’t exist. These counterfeit accounts could alone be prevented if ID checks were carefully bound to coffer branches and if anniversary annex acclimated analysis machines issued by the Federal Printing Office, she said.
N26 afresh anchored its aegis standards afterwards its own video ID arrangement was abused by abyss who had acquaint job adverts and again asked applicants to analyze themselves via video chat. The applicants were blind that they were aperture an N26 annual that was after acclimated to transfers funds.
In acknowledgment to an analysis by BaFin and added regulators, N26 common that “no analysis action guarantees 100 percent security,” abacus that “various aegis measures and ascendancy mechanisms are implemented” with photo checks. The online coffer said it was affair authoritative requirements on money bed-making and was advertisement apprehensive cases.
When questioned added about why the coffer was application an ID blockage action in Portugal that didn’t accommodated Portuguese standards, the coffer said it adhered to German money-laundering law. Yet acquiescing to German law is a poor aegis as the selfie checks do not accommodated Germany’s requirements either.
In acknowledgment to WirtschaftsWoche’s analysis into the bank’s vulnerabilities, BaFin said: “The all-important authoritative measures were taken.” The ascendancy was a of the aegis gaps several months ago and is continuing its investigation, but the selfie analysis arrangement is still acclimated at N26 and there is no adumbration the startup is because otherwise.
Furthermore, there are additionally array of letters online that non-EU citizens are aperture N26 accounts application affected addresses, suggesting how calmly that claim can additionally be circumvented. It makes you wonder: Maybe there is a acumen for the bullshit.
Melanie Bergermann and Saskia Littmann appear this adventure for WirtschaftsWoche. David Crossland acclimatized the argument for Handelsblatt Global. To acquaintance the authors: [email protected] and [email protected]
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