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Digital banking app Revolut launches on Australian shores

Remy Taylor

Thursday 20 June 2019

<p>Neobank Revolut launches on Australian shores</p>

UK fintech Revolut, described as ‘the Amazon of banking’ has just touched down in Australia, already creating quite the stir in the banking industry.

Revolut is a digital banking app which offers a  range of prepaid Visa cards and comes armed with social media influencers, budgeting features, and low-cost foreign exchange services, in hopes to win over the hearts of Aussie customers.  

And it seems to be working, the company opened a beta version of its local app on Thursday 13th June and already had nearly 20,000 Aussies swamping its waiting list. And get this… they say it all happened by word of mouth!

Revolut’s app has fancy features that not only allow users to set spending limits, and budgets for things like food delivery, socialising and transport, but there’s also the option to send and request money from other Revolut customers whilst slipping in a sneaky GIF alongside the request.

Like a number of other fintechs such as Xinja and Up Bank looking to mix up the Australian banking system, Revolut doesn’t yet have a local banking license. ASIC granted the company a special exemption, different from ASIC’s normal practice of licensing. It means Revolut did not have to partner with a local financial institution to begin rolling out its basic products in Australia. However, the firm has had to hold all Australian clients’ money in trust through accounts by a local bank.  

While Revolut does have a banking licence from the European Central Bank, the company calls itself an ‘electric money institution’, as it technically isn’t an Australian bank.

So far its app provides a transaction account linked to a debit card with no fees, allowing Aussies to hold up to 15 different currencies, including New Zealand and US dollars.

RELATED: Open banking opens the way for neobanks

Aussies with a Revolut account can choose from three subscription-based pricing options, including $0 per month for a Standard account, $13.99 per month for a Premium account or $22.99 per month for a Metal account.

You may wonder whether neobanks, digital banks and other fintechs like Revolut can really pose a threat to the big banks, but Mozo’s banking expert, Peter Marshall believes the big banks shouldn’t be quick to dismiss these challengers.

“Revolut already has an established European market and when you combine this with the all the flak major banks have copped since the Royal Banking Commission and with some not passing on the RBA rate cut, big banks should be sweating over innovative fintechs like this,” he said.

Founded in 2015, before reaching Australian shores and nestling its headquarters in Melbourne, Revolut had already attracted 5 million customers over 30 European markets, and raised $US336 million ($AUD486 million) from venture capital firms. The firm is currently valued at $US1.7 billion ($AUD2.4 billion).

It’s only a matter of time before we see the true impact of Revolut in Australia. Watch this space as we keep updated.

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