A conversation withNils Feigenwinter, Bling

"There are many black sheep among financial influencers"

Alongside his core investors and platform partners, Bling founder Nils Feigenwinter aims to advance financial education in Germany.

"There are many black sheep among financial influencers"

Nils Feigenwinter is certainly one of the youngest fintech founders. Together with Leon Stephan he launched the Bling app focused on children and family finances shortly after graduating from high school. As a teenager, he was already active as an entrepreneur, launching Switzerland's first digital student newspaper and becoming known as a children's TV presenter on Swiss television. Today, he is 23 years old and has been in the market with the Bling app for a year and a half.

It all started with the pocket money solution, a prepaid Mastercard for children aged 7 and older, but managed by parents. "Our founding idea was to improve the financial literacy of the younger generation. During school, you usually don't learn anything about money, so there is an educational gap here. And as Bling, together with our partners, we want to contribute to improved financial education by empowering children and teenagers, along with their parents, for digital management of family finances," says Nils Feigenwinter in an interview with Börsen-Zeitung.

Saving for concrete goals

In the summer, investment products for sustainable investment, the so-called "savings trees" – whose growth can be followed visually – were added to the offering. This is realized through the partner Evergreen, with deposited funds invested in two actively managed Article 8 funds aiming for a 4 to 8% return. Having such savings plans on the platform is important because it allows saving for concrete goals, says Feigenwinter.

In mid-November, the parent card was launched, completing the management of family finances through the app because it includes everyone. The current balance: more than 50,000 families are on the platform, and more than 5% have already opened a depot, says the founder. "Opening a depot is a bit of the Holy Grail in retail banking. We've done that well and want to continue growing on that basis." He announced another product innovation for January, with several more in the development pipeline.

3.5 million euros from VC funds and business angels

Feigenwinter makes it clear that Bling does not offer anything for free because they want to be fundamentally strongly internally financed. Through a funding round, they raised 3.5 million euros from VC funds La Famiglia and Peak, along with business angels like Verena Pausder and Lea-Sophie Cramer. Together with La Famiglia's Jeanette zu Fürstenberg, Pausder and Cramer are among the most important supporters of Bling to advance financial education in Germany. And the Bling founder is in dialogue with influencial persons such as Minister of Education Bettina Stark-Watzinger.

He critically observes the actions of some financial influencers on social media. There are many black sheep, and a lack of financial education is a reason why young people listen to false experts. Together with platform partner Mastercard, Bling conducted a study on financial education in the summer, which found that every fifth child under ten already shops online – without their parents' knowledge. This highlights the need for action. Moreover, 56% of parents wish for financial education to be included in school curricula.

"Education Board" consisting of four experts

All these issues are followed and developed by Bling through its "Education Board." It has gathered four experts to ensure the quality of existing and new features on the platform, as well as incorporating pedagogically valuable content and ideas into product development. Board members include Sven Schumann, an expert in economic and financial education at Deutsche Börse, who is also the deputy chairman of the Alliance for Economic Education in Germany, and business and financial coach Babett Mahnert, co-founder of Schulgold, an initiative for better financial knowledge for teenagers.

With a focus on family finances, Bling finds itself in the midst of a zeitgeist that corresponds to the core of its founding. The topic of family finances is increasingly being discussed in society – and is therefore not just another category of personal finance. Recently, economic expert Ulrike Malmendier advocated creating starting capital for children and teenagers, which should be part of a debate, also to promote a stock culture. This has a different quality than the demand of left-wing politicians for a blanket "basic endowment": wealth must be earned and saved, and the state is called upon to enable this through the education and financial system and to support it selectively with the idea of equal opportunities, especially for young people.