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  • Writer's pictureDonnelle Brooks

Revolut: Disruptive Fintech or Risky Business?

In the fast-paced world of financial technology, one name that has been making waves is Revolut. Launched in 2015, this UK-based company has gained a massive following by promising to revolutionize the way we handle money. With its sleek app, attractive exchange rates, and a wide range of services, Revolut seems like the perfect solution for modern-day banking needs. But is it really as good as it claims to be? In this review, we'll take a closer look at Revolut and explore some of its controversial aspects.


What is Revolut?

Revolut is a financial technology company that has gained widespread recognition for its innovative approach to banking and financial services. Established in 2015, Revolut has transformed traditional banking by offering a range of digital financial solutions through its mobile app. Initially known for its multi-currency travel card that allows users to spend and transfer money abroad with minimal fees, Revolut has expanded its services to include features like budgeting tools, cryptocurrency trading, stock investing, and peer-to-peer payments. One of the key attractions of Revolut is its user-friendly interface, real-time transaction tracking, and the ability to exchange currencies at interbank rates. Additionally, Revolut has garnered attention for its commitment to disrupting traditional banking norms by introducing a variety of financial services accessible to users globally, all within the convenience of a single app.

How does Revolut work?

Revolut operates as a digital financial platform that provides users with a range of convenient and flexible services. The core functionality of Revolut revolves around its mobile app, which users can download and set up on their smartphones. Upon registration, users can link their bank accounts or debit/credit cards to the app, enabling them to seamlessly manage their finances. One of the standout features of Revolut is its ability to facilitate multi-currency transactions at interbank exchange rates, allowing users to spend and transfer money internationally without incurring traditional banking fees. The app also offers budgeting tools, allowing users to categorize and monitor their expenses. Furthermore, Revolut has expanded its offerings to include features like cryptocurrency trading, stock investing, and various financial insights to empower users in making informed decisions. The platform's emphasis on real-time updates, security, and user-friendly interfaces has contributed to its popularity as a modern and efficient financial solution.

What does Revolut do?

Revolut offers a comprehensive suite of financial services through its digital platform, revolutionizing the way users manage their money. Some key features and services provided by Revolut include:

Multi-Currency Accounts

Revolut allows users to hold and transact in multiple currencies at interbank exchange rates, minimizing traditional banking fees for international transactions.

Screenshot of Revolut multi currency display
Screenshot of Revolut multi currency display

Card Services

The platform provides users with physical and virtual debit cards, enabling them to make purchases, withdraw cash, and manage their spending with real-time updates.

International Money Transfers

Users can send money globally with competitive exchange rates and low fees, making cross-border transactions more cost-effective.

Budgeting Tools

Revolut's app includes features for budgeting and expense tracking, helping users categorize their spending and set financial goals.

Cryptocurrency Trading

Revolut allows users to buy, sell, and hold various cryptocurrencies within the app, making it accessible for those interested in digital assets.

Stock Trading

The platform has expanded to include stock trading, allowing users to invest in a variety of stocks directly from their Revolut accounts.

Savings and Vaults

Users can set aside money for savings goals or round up their purchases to save spare change automatically. Vaults provide a way to segregate funds for specific purposes.

Insurance and Premium Services

Revolut offers premium subscription plans with additional benefits such as travel insurance, enhanced security features, and priority customer support.

Financial Analytics

The app provides users with insights into their spending habits, offering detailed analytics and financial reports to promote better financial decision-making.

Revolut's all-encompassing approach aims to simplify and modernize various aspects of personal finance, providing users with a versatile and user-friendly platform for their banking and investment needs.

Is Revolut a bank?

Revolut is not a traditional bank in the traditional sense. Instead, it is a financial technology (fintech) company that provides a range of digital financial services. Revolut offers services such as multi-currency accounts, international money transfers, budgeting tools, cryptocurrency trading, and more, primarily through its mobile app.

It's important to note that while Revolut offers banking-like services, it does not hold a full banking license in all the regions it operates. In some areas, it operates as an electronic money institution, which may have different regulatory implications than a traditional bank. Users should be aware of the specific regulatory status and terms of service in their respective regions.

Who owns Revolut?

Revolut was co-founded by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko in 2015. Nikolay Storonsky serves as the CEO of Revolut. However, keep in mind that ownership details can change, and it's always a good idea to check the latest information from reliable sources for the most current ownership details of companies. You can check the latest information on Revolut's official website or through reputable news sources for the most up-to-date ownership information.

Does Revolut work in Australia?

Yes, Revolut is available and operational in Australia. However, service availability and features can change, so it's recommended to check the official Revolut website or contact their customer support for the latest and most accurate information regarding Revolut's services in Australia.

Is Revolut safe?

Revolut employs various security measures to help protect user accounts and financial information. These measures include:

1. Biometric Security

Revolut uses biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprint and facial recognition, to enhance the security of user accounts.

2. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Users can enable two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to their accounts.

3. Card Controls

Revolut provides users with control over their physical and virtual cards, allowing them to customize security settings, such as enabling or disabling contactless payments, online transactions, and ATM withdrawals.

4. End-to-End Encryption

The platform uses end-to-end encryption to secure user data and transactions, ensuring that information is protected during transit.

5. Regulatory Compliance

Revolut complies with financial regulations in the regions where it operates, adding a level of oversight to its operations.

However, it's crucial for users to be vigilant about their own security. This includes using strong and unique passwords, keeping personal information confidential, and promptly reporting any suspicious activities.

Is Revolut Government Guaranteed?

Yes, Revolut is Government guaranteed. When a bank is government guaranteed, it means that the government has established a guarantee or insurance program to safeguard depositors' funds in the event of the bank's failure. This protection is designed to instill confidence in the financial system and encourage individuals to deposit their money in banks. In the unfortunate event of a bank's insolvency, the government guarantee ensures that depositors, up to a certain limit, will receive compensation for their losses. This safeguarding mechanism helps prevent widespread panic and maintains the stability of the financial sector. For consumers, the government guarantee offers a level of assurance and security, assuring them that their deposits are backed by the government, thereby mitigating the risk of losing their savings in the case of a bank's financial difficulties. The specific details and limits of government guarantees can vary by country, and individuals are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions of such guarantees to make informed decisions about their banking relationships.

Does Revolut have a banking license?

Yes, Revolut holds an Australian Financial Services Licence and an Australian Credit Licence, both issued by ASIC. Additionally, it operates under the regulatory oversight of the Reserve Bank, specifically within the payments services or "e-money" framework. This regulatory framework mandates that account balances are secured by bank guarantees, ensuring a heightened level of financial security and compliance with established standards.

Revolut fees

Revolut has a large fee structure due to the amount of services it offers. For a full fee schedule, see their website fee page. They do offer 3 tiers of subscriptions:

Standard - free

This package offers standard banking services with no benefits.

  • Standard international transfer fees of 0.30% to 1.5%

  • Crypto trades at 1.49%

  • 3 commission free trades per month

Premium - $9.99/month

  • 60% off international transfer fees

  • Up to $20,000 in monthly currency exchange without fees

  • Crypto trades at 0.99%

  • 5 commission free stock trades per month

Metal - $24.99/month

  • 80% off international transfer fees

  • Unlimited monthly currency exchange without fees

  • Crypto trades at 0.99%

  • 10 commission free trades per month

How long does a bank transfer to Revolut take?

Transferring money with Revolut can take from 2 hours to 3 days, depending on the circumstances. The speed of fund transfers with Revolut can vary depending on the services supported by the recipient bank. If the bank accommodates Faster Payments, the transaction could be completed within a maximum timeframe of 2 hours. Alternatively, if CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System) is employed, the process may extend to a maximum of 1 day. However, if the bank exclusively supports BACS (Bankers' Automated Clearing System), the transfer duration might extend to a maximum of 3 days. The efficiency of the transaction, therefore, hinges on the specific payment system utilized by the recipient bank.

What is the downside of Revolut?

Whilst Revolut is a good service for international transfers, it can get expensive. Revolut offers various benefits, but it's important to be aware of potential downsides:

Limited Deposit Insurance

Traditional banks typically provide deposit insurance to protect customers' funds in case of bank failure. However, Revolut doesn't operate as a traditional bank in all regions, and as of my last knowledge update in January 2022, they may not provide the same level of deposit protection. This lack of deposit insurance could pose a risk to users' funds.

Account Freezes and Compliance Concerns

Some users have reported instances of account freezes or temporary suspensions due to compliance and security checks. This can be frustrating for users who may experience disruptions in accessing their funds, even if it's a precautionary measure.

Foreign Exchange Fees for Weekends

While Revolut offers competitive foreign exchange rates during weekdays, it may charge slightly higher fees for currency exchanges during weekends. This is because Revolut uses interbank rates during weekdays but adds a small markup on weekends.

Subscription Costs

While the basic Revolut account is free, some of the more advanced features, such as higher withdrawal limits and access to cryptocurrency exchanges, may require a paid subscription. Users should be aware of the costs associated with these premium features.

Customer Service Challenges

Another critical issue that has dogged Revolut is its customer support. As the company expanded rapidly, it struggled to keep up with the increasing number of user inquiries. Many customers have reported facing long response times, automated replies, and a lack of personalized support. This has left some feeling frustrated and unsupported during crucial moments, such as when their accounts were frozen for security reasons or when they encountered transaction issues.

The Hidden Fees

While Revolut proudly advertises "no hidden fees," some users have discovered that certain activities can attract unexpected charges. For instance, withdrawing cash from an ATM may come with a hidden fee if the withdrawal exceeds a specific limit. Additionally, Revolut applies a markup on weekends and during certain market conditions for currency exchange, which might lead to slightly unfavorable rates.

Revolut Review: The Bottom Line

Revolut has undoubtedly brought innovation and convenience to the world of personal finance. Its multi-currency capabilities and user-friendly interface are commendable features that have resonated with many. However, the company's growth has not been without its challenges, leading to customer support and security issues that raise eyebrows.

Before committing to Revolut, potential users must weigh the advantages against the risks. If you're a frequent traveler or an expat in need of seamless cross-border transactions, Revolut may be an excellent choice. But if you value the safety and reliability of a fully licensed bank, you might want to consider a more traditional banking option.

In conclusion, while Revolut has made impressive strides in reshaping the fintech landscape, it's essential to proceed with a critical eye and be aware of potential drawbacks. As with any financial service provider, it's vital to do thorough research and consider your individual needs before jumping on the Revolut bandwagon.

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