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BBVA's Denizen borderless account fintech to close in December

Denizen, the global account fintech created by BBVA in 2018, has announced that it will close on Dec. 17, citing the inability to scale the business enough to compete in the current environment. 

Denizen launched in March 2018 as a global account service that allowed expats, international travelers and immigrants access various banking and money transfer functions at lower cost.

"In short, the product didn't work in the market as we expected," Chris Semple, spokesman for BBVA, told Mobile Payments Today via email. "Most of the customers using the service were not expats looking to use the product in the way it was intended, [but] rather as a short term holiday resource, meaning it was competing in an already congested marketplace."

The service, which operated in the U.S. and Spain, provided customers a mobile app and an international debit card and allowed them to receive funds in one country and pay it out in another, free of expensive currency exchange and international transfer fees. 

Semple said the company would not reveal total customer numbers. Less than 30 jobs were affected at the company, and some will be reemployed back within BBVA and others negotiated settlement packages. 

The San Francisco-based company was co-founded by Juaquin Ayuso, the former co-founder and CTO of Tuenti, a social media site described as Spain's version of Facebook. 

The company had planned to expand into the 10 leading EU countries as well as the U.K., but that expansion failed to materialize. 

By Dec. 17, the bank will close any mobile app, debit card and account that is linked to Denizen. Customers based in the EU need to contact the bank with an IBAN number and remaining funds will be transferred out of the Denizen account. U.S. customers need to contact customer service and will receive a check with remaining funds. 

Customers can continue using the Denizen account for 60 days from the time they receive the shutdown notice. 

Cover image: BBVA