Ali Niknam

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Class of 2024, The Netherlands
Founder and CEO of bunq

Share the joy of Ali Niknam’s winning moment at Entrepreneur Of The Year™ The Netherlands.

Ali Niknam is pioneering a new financial future with Europe’s second-largest neobank.

Ali Niknam is a born entrepreneur: He taught himself to code at 9, invested in stocks at 12 and started his first company at 16. In his twenties, he founded what would become the world’s third-largest domain name and web hosting provider and cofounded the largest independent data center company in the Netherlands. At 31, he wrote a best-selling book on entrepreneurship.

In 2012, Ali embarked on his most audacious mission yet as he set out to radically change traditional banking by founding bunq, a bank its digital nomad customers love to use. “Technology, if applied correctly, has the power to surprise and delight users,” Ali says. “Thanks to tech we’re able to really understand our users’ wants and needs, and subsequently build tools that make their lives easy.” 

In 2015, bunq obtained the first European banking license granted in more than 35 years — an achievement many considered impossible. Bunq became the second-largest neobank in Europe — a testament to Ali’s passion and perseverance. He expects only the best of everyone around him, and he believes that we owe it to society to use our skills for good.

Born in Canada and raised in Iran and the Netherlands, Ali is a world citizen who looks at problems on a global scale and provides solutions that transcend borders. His can-do ideology, fueled by his education at Delft University, has made him one of today’s most influential advocates of technology and innovation.

There are things you know that won’t make sense to others (yet) — that’s what makes you an entrepreneur!