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Nuri – The crypto bank delivers Bitcoin and Ethereum

Nuri (formerly Bitwala) boasts of being the first Bitcoin bank. With one account, customers get not only an ordinary bank account, but also access to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. How does the bank work and what is its offer?

Nuri is based on a simple idea: a bank account also for Bitcoin. The account is supposed to offer pretty much everything you would expect from your local bank. It can be used to receive salaries, pay bills, transfer funds, and set up savings plans. Nuri also allows the account to buy, hold and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum. Customers can also use Nuri to trade cryptocurrencies or create crypto savings accounts. Using Bitcoin to pay one’s bills, that is not yet possible with it.

Who or what exactly is Nuri?

Nuri is a German fintech company based in Berlin. Previously, it was known as Bitwala. In May 2021, the platform was relaunched and renamed. The blockchain banking service works with solarisBank. This in turn has a full banking license from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). As a result, the accounts are secured with all relevant protection mechanisms under German legislation.

The beginnings of the company

It all started with a crypto consulting company in 2013, which was supposed to explain the advantages of Bitcoin to companies and banks. However, they did not have any success with it at first. in 2015, Jan Goslicki, Ben Jones and Jörg von Minckwitz (who is no longer with the company) finally founded Bitwala in Berlin. This was still a blockchain-based payment service provider. The startup offered a prepaid debit card. This could be topped up with Bitcoin and then you could pay everywhere with it, just like with a normal Girocard. The service was available in over 200 countries.

In January 2018, WaveCrest Holdings, a partner of Bitwala, lost its VISA license. Other crypto payment service providers such as CryptoPay and TenX were also affected. The startup had to shut down its payment service. Then, in October of the same year, the collaboration with solarisBank took place, marking a new beginning.

From Bitwala to Nuri – the start as a crypto bank

SolarisBank provides the technology for linking bank accounts and the blockchain. More precisely, it is its own “Blockchain Factory“. Bitwala did not only secure itself on the technological side with this. It also cleared regulatory hurdles. Since solarisBank has a full banking license, Bitwala was able to offer a common current account without any problems – only with the option to also buy Bitcoin and Ethereum. The offer has been available since December 2018.

In May 2021, the rebranding to Nuri took place. The name change was initiated by the new head of the company: Kristina Walcker-Mayer. She previously worked at N26 and Zalando. The company saw strong growth in the first quarter of 2021, with 50,000 new customers signing up at the height of the crypto boom in early 2021.

“There is great demand from the blockchain world for a licensed partner,” Roland Folz, CEO of solarisBank, told the media. A partner “that provides the technological and regulatory link to traditional banking – as a technology company with a banking license, we are the natural partner for this.”

Porträt Christoph Iwaniez, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) bei Nuri

Thanks to its full banking license, the Nuri account has all the standard collateral customers can expect.

Christoph Iwaniez, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Nuri

Bank account and crypto wallet in one account

On Nuri, you as a customer can create a checking account and use it like any other account. It features the typical functions of an ordinary bank account. Signing up and switching are made as easy as possible. The functions include:

  • German IBAN
  • SEPA transfers and standing orders
  • International payments
  • Cryptocurrency storage and trading
  • Savings accounts

Another advantage: the bank account is free of charge. Christoph Iwaniez, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Nuri says, “What may have been a matter of course in the past is currently offered by fewer and fewer house banks. Currently, opening a bank account with Nuri costs nothing, nor are there any ongoing costs.” Tokenized assets such as Finexity, digital equity platform daura or Sygnum are not offered by Nuri, nor are crypto credit cards yet.

Sign up in easy steps

Wen you want to sign up with Nuri Bank, you need to follow these steps:

  • Go to Nuri ‘s website and click on “Open an account.”
  • Enter your personal information and an e-mail address
  • Verify yourself with your ID, driver’s license or passport
  • Keep your smartphone handy: Afterwards, you still identify yourself using Nuri’s app

The crypto offer: BTC and ETH

Only the two largest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum, can be traded on Nuri. There are no other cryptocurrencies so far. The company is carefully reviewing which coins and tokens it offers as trading commodities. However, it is quite possible that more will be added in the future.

  • Trading Bitcoin and Ethereum
  • 1% trading fee on all purchases and sales
  • Trading limit of 50,000 euros for 7 days
  • Limit of 25,000 euros per trade
  • Minimum amount of 30 Euro
  • Crypto savings plans

You can find crypto trading options after logging in on the app under “Assets”. Under “Savings Plan”, you can set a standing order to buy Bitcoin or Ethereum on a regular basis. The crypto purchase options can be found here under “Buy Bitcoin” or “Buy Ethereum”. Then enter the desired amount and confirm the transaction using the mTAN. The purchase is made automatically with the euros in the Nuri account. You also complete the sale under “Assets”. The money is then transferred to the Nuri account during the sale.

The Nuri app – necessary for trading

Nuri is an online-only bank. There are no Nuri ATMs or on-site locations you can go to. For this, internet access and an internet-enabled device are all you need to use the service. On the PC, you can log in to Nuri and perform your regular banking transactions. However, this does not apply to trading cryptocurrencies. For that, you need the Nuri app. Only with the app is it possible to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

Earning interest with Bitcoin – the income account

With Nuri, you can also earn interest on Bitcoin. For this purpose, there is the earnings account. 5 percent interest per year is supposed to be possible with it. All you have to do is move the bitcoin to the earnings account and hold it passively. For this service, the company partners with Celsius Network, a crypto savings account and crypto loan company. However, this is not without risks. The BTC in the revenue account are used for decentralized financial transactions to generate profits, which then benefit the saver. The minimum deposit is 10 euros and withdrawals are available every Monday.

How safe is Nuri?

Chief Financial Officer Christoph Iwaniez: “Thanks to its full banking license, the Nuri account has all the standard securities that customers in Germany and the EU can expect.” This includes deposit insurance of up to 100,000 euros. The company is subject to German regulators and its rules. For cryptocurrencies, the company offers two storage locations. First, there is the regular wallet. This is managed by the partner Solaris Digital Assets. Thus, the Bitcoin and Ethereum are in the care of Solaris. Then there is the “Vault”. Here, users manage their cryptocurrencies themselves. This means you create the private key for yourself and become the sole owner of the cryptocurrencies. In return, you are also responsible for the proper storage of the key and the cryptos.

The solarisBank

The solarisBank also emerged from a fintech startup. When it was founded in March 2016, the FinLeap company was involved. Right after its founding, the company received full banking licenses from both BaFin and the ECB. The startup provides its technologies as "banking-as-a-service" for third-party providers.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

How secure are Nuri’s wallets?

The normal Nuri wallet is a self-custody wallet. This means that it is managed by third parties. They have access to the private key and keep it safe. So far, nothing is known about hacks of the Nuri wallet. If you prefer to take it into your own hands, then create a Vault Wallet. However, this is also a web wallet. Cryptocurrencies are still safest on desktop wallets or on hardware wallets.

What cryptocurrencies will be available on Nuri in the future?

So far, it is not known which cryptocurrencies Nuri plans to add to the offer soon. Nuri wants to examine this very closely. It could be more smart contract cryptocurrencies like Cardano, or Litecoin. “Meme” coins like Doge or short-term high flyers probably won’t be.

Thomas Grether

Journalist | Editor | Entrepreneur & Environmental Scientist.
Main focus: Tokenization | Digital Transformation Processes in Companies | Internet and Web Publishing | Environment

Thomas Grether

Journalist | Redakteur | Unternehmer & Umweltwissenschaftler
Schwerpunkte: Tokenisierung | Digitale Transformationsprozesse in Firmen | Internet und Webpublishing | Umwelt