The new financial technology company cut the ribbon for the U.S. launch of its product in Wilmington, Tuesday.
Zenbanx’s new Delaware operations center will be located at 650 Naamans Rd. in Claymont and is expected to bring 150 new jobs to the First State.
Founded by former ING Direct CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, Zenbanx is a mobile app that allows customers to hold up to five foreign currencies in one bank account.
“We look at the fundamental bank account and we change it,” said Kuhlmann, Zenbanx CEO. “By basically saying to consumers, ‘Hey this is your money, you need to be global, you need to work across borders, you can change it, you can earn some interest, you can look at it anytime you want.'”
Kuhlmann said users can easily transfer money to family members abroad and access foreign currency from the palm of their hands. Users can also exchange currencies instantaneously when rates are best.
Kuhlmann said Zenbanx is close to hitting its first 1,000 customers.
Tuesday’s ribbon cutting was held on the 11th floor of WSFS Bank in Wilmington. The oldest bank headquartered in Wilmington is partnering with the state’s newest bank.
“As I said to Arkadi, it’s his baby, we’re just in the delivery room helping out as best we can,” said Mark Turner, CEO of WSFS Bank. “The world’s gone much more global, the world’s gone much more social and the world’s gone much more mobile, and so those are the three things that are in the Zenbanx account,” which is powered by WSFS.
Described as a serial entrepreneur, Kuhlmann’s new venture hit several regulatory snags in the wake of the financial crisis. A couple of years ago, he reached out to Sen. Tom Carper and Gov. Jack Markell, both D-Delaware, who connected Kuhlmann with Turner.
“Employers can go to dozens of countries around the world when they want to hire and the wealth is largely going to be created outside of this country. And so it is into that space that Zenbanx gets created,” Markell said. “So when we heard about his vision, having had the extraordinary success partnering with him in the past, we knew that we wanted this to take hold here in Delaware.”
Kuhlmann founded ING Direct in 1991 and brought the company to Wilmington in 1999. He grew the online bank to $80 billion in assets, millions of customer accounts and created thousands of jobs in the U.S. and in Canada; 1,500 here in Delaware. Capital One paid $9 billion when it bought the company in 2012.