Revolut, explained. There is an alternative to physical banks

Revolut is a British financial technology company that offers banking services. It proffers a range of digital banking services in a mobile app targeted at young tech-savvy users.

Revolut is a British financial technology company that offers banking services. It provides accounts featuring currency exchange, debit cards, virtual cards, Apple Pay, interest-bearing "vaults", commission-free stock trading, crypto, commodities, and other services.

What is exactly?

Revolut proffers a range of digital banking services in a mobile app targeted at young tech-savvy users, including:

  • Transferring money abroad in 29 currencies (in 2022)
  • A pre-paid debit card that enables cash machine withdrawals in 120 countries (in 2022)
  • A cryptocurrency exchange allowing users to convert currencies into Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash or XRP
  • Vaults for budgeting and saving money
  • Mobile phone and overseas medical insurance

Who founded Revolut?

Revolut was founded by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. Mr. Storonsky is Russian-born, but carries a British passport and has lived in the UK since the age of 20. Mr. Yatsenko is Ukranian-British and has lived in the UK since 2010.

Mr. Yatsenko and Mr. Storonsky created start-up Revolut and launched it in July 2015 at the Level39 tech accelerator in Canary Wharf.

Mr. Yatsenko serves as Revolut's chief technology officer, while Mr. Storonsky is the chief executive of the firm in 2022.

How big is Revolut?

Revolut has expanded into new markets such as Japan and expanded staff from 1500 to around 5000 in 2021. In November 2020 it was breaking even and, with a £4.2 billion valuation became the UK's most valuable fintech. In January 2021 it applied for a UK banking license.

An $800 million funding round in July 2021 brought the value of the company to $33 billion, making it also the most valuable UK tech startup at the time.

How to open a Revolut personal account

Opening a Revolut personal account is simple:

  • You just download the app and put in your phone number
  • Then you will set a password and a 6 digit code will be sent to your phone to verify the account
  • It will ask you for your name, birth date, address, and email
  • Then you will make an initial deposit by putting in your bank details for a transfer to be initiated
  • Then you will need to provide a selfie and a picture of your passport for verification
  • You’ll be asked to select either a standard, premium, or metal account, and pay the fee (standard is free)

A word of caution

Revolut holds multiple banking licenses. However, it is not yet a full bank.

While Revolut holds banking licenses in 10 different countries in 2022, the accounts live in the UK, and therefore for all intents and purposes, Revolut should not be seen as a bank.

However, Revolut says on its website:

Funds with Revolut remain safeguarded in accounts with a tier-one UK bank, as per our obligations under the e-money regulations. Plus, all of your card transactions are processed by the Mastercard or Visa network and are protected by Mastercard or Visa rules.

Remember that Revolut will only communicate with you through their online chat feature and through their call automated phone line. They will not e-mail you or offer support through social media, or any other means.

Watch out for anyone calling you posing as customer support, or a representative from another bank, asking you to give access to your device.

Finally, be aware that Revolut will share your data, but you can opt out of data sharing on the app.