UK neobank Revolut is about to launch in Australia

Chad West at Intersekt in Melbourne.
  • UK neobank Revolut plans to launch in Australia by March next year.
  • It has appointed a general manager and will start hiring soon.
  • Revolut will be based in Melbourne when it launches with its signature metal Mastercard.

Revolut, the UK neobank which has gathered three million customers in three years, is launching in Australia early in the new year.

The fintech already has a waiting list of 20,000 Australians wanting an account and one of Revolut’s signature metal Mastercards.

Chad West, head of marketing and communications, says local operations are due to start in Melbourne in the first quarter of calendar 2019.

So far, Revolut has one staffer, Will Mahon Heap, who has been parachuted in with a desk at fintech hub Stone & Chalk’s Melbourne centre. The general manager for Australia and New Zealand will start hiring soon.

He’s also in talks with local Australian banks including the ANZ. Revolut needs back end services because it won’t have a banking licence at launch.

“At the minute, it’s just Will,” says West, who is attending the FinTech Australia Intersekt conference in Melbourne. “But we’ll hire a local team for when we launch.”

Revolut’s metal card.

Revolut is one of the fastest growth finetchs in Europe, adding 8,000 new accounts each day without spending on advertising.

In Australia, the UK player joins locals including Volt, with a limited banking licence, and Xinja, which is seeking a licence.

“People don’t like the banks and we say: F the banks,” West told Business Insider.

“I hear they have even been charging deceased people in Australia (a reference to the financial services royal commission).”

Revolut is known for giving its customers everything via a smartphone, including low fees on foreign exchange, an easy way to save by rounding up purchases and moving that small change to savings, a simple way to buy and sell crypto currency, a concierge service, free medical travel insurance, and an aggregated view of where spending is going.

Revolut’s Mastercard — billed as a spend anywhere in the world tool with no fees — is made of metal, weighs 18 grams and is engraved with a high-precision laser.

“We’re definitely quite cheeky, give everyone a bit of a laugh,” says West.

“We do a lot of PR, we do a lot of community events and we have great referral plans, we’ll go to a lot of the universities and campuses and make noise there.

“I think Aussie’s are quite similar to Scots right. Which is not very PC, speak your mind, say it like it is.

“We’re no bullshit, I always say.”

Australia’s fintech startup community sees the hammering taken by the banks in the financial services royal commission as both an opportunity — to grab a piece of the action — and a speed bump hindering collaboration.

The 2018 EY FinTech Australia Census, released at the Intersekt Conference in Melbourne, found almost half (46%) of the startups identified building partnerships with banks and other financial institutions as a key external challenge, up from 40% in 2017.

Many startups reported the big players were difficult to engage with and slow to act.

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