Handelszeitung however notes that Revolut does not hold a Swiss banking license, thus does not offer its own Swiss bank account numbers. This would require an account with the Swiss National Bank, which as a rule is only provided to banks that are registered in Switzerland.
Revolut expands globally
This comes at a time when Revolut is actively expanding worldwide. The company announced on December 13 that it has been granted a European banking license, enabling it to offer services typically provided by traditional banks including full current accounts, direct debits, consumer and business lending, and overdrafts. Right now, Revolut is more of a digital wallet that lets users top up in many different ways.
The Bank of Lithuania granted Revolut the regulatory approval, giving the London-based company permission to operate throughout the European Union (EU).
Chad West, a Revolut spokesman, told Bloomberg that the company chose Lithuania because the country’s “regulatory environment is incredibly fintech friendly.” He also said it was faster to get licensed in Lithuania than many other European jurisdictions. Revolut has 150,000 customers in Lithuania.
London has been a hotbed for fintech startups but the impending withdrawal of the UK from the EU has pushed many of these companies to seek licenses from other European jurisdictions. Once the UK leaves the EU, British financial companies will no longer have the right to “passport” their regulatory approvals to other European jurisdictions.
CEO Nikolay Storonsky told CNBC the company plans to apply for a UK banking license as well, in part because of uncertainty around Brexit. “If we feel a ‘hard Brexit’ happens, we’ll definitely need to have a license here,” he said.
Revolut expects to roll out new features in the UK, France, Germany and Poland. The company has said it will offer commission-free equity trading in the UK and Europe within the next year.
Revolut announced in November it has been granted licenses to operate in Singapore and Japan, marking the beginning of its expansion into Asia. The company plans to launch in Q1 2019 and already more than 50,000 people have signed to the waitlist.
Storonsky said he hopes to launch in the US in 2019, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Founded in 2015, Revolut offers digital banking services including prepaid debit card, current account, cryptocurrency trading, and foreign exchange transactions. The company serves more than 3 million customers and claims it is opening between 8,000 and 10,000 current accounts every day. Users generate $4 billion in monthly transaction volume.
In April 2018, Revolut closed a US$250 million funding round that brought its valuation to US$1.7 billion. According to the Times of London, the company is in talks with Japan’s SoftBank to raise a fresh round of funding worth as much as US$500 million.
Revolut is part of a growing list of digital banks that have secured banking licenses as fintech startups take on incumbents in the financial services sector. These include UK’s Monzo and Starling which have both secured banking licenses in the UK, Germany’s N26, which received its European license in 2016, Swedish payments company Klarna, which won a full banking license from Finansinspektionen, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, in 2017, and Dutch payments firm Adyen, which was awarded a European banking license in 2017 by the Dutch Central Bank.
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