UK fintech unicorn Revolut is coming to Canada

OPM 1 min read

Revolut - the UK based digital only bank unicorn - had been quieter for several months, its global expansion plans somewhat stalled. But today, it announced that it is going ahead with expanding into 24 new markets through a new global deal with Visa. It aims to hire 3,500 additional staff by next summer as part of this push, from its current 1,500 employees. Revolut is one of the strongest contenders in the war to build the One Financial Bundle to Rule Over Money.

Revolut is currently active in Europe and Australia, but with this partnership will be running in several new countries: Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, and the US within months. More countries will be added next year in Latin America and Asia. The company is also looking to raise $500m this year, having raised $250m last year at a $1.7 billion valuation.

The aim is to double or triple customer count in the next year from the current 8 million. The average customer holds around 1,000 euros, implying current total assets of around 8 billion euros.

In my view, Revolut and TransferWise are the only two neobanks with a truly global approach.

Revolut had to deal with some shenanigans over the past 2 years, including questionable employment practices like uncompensated work as part of the job application process. The company also had some regulatory scrutiny.

But founder Nikolay Storonsky is saying: "We are a different company...we've learned lessons".

I'll be the judge of that.

Revolut already has licenses with FINTRAC and Quebec’s financial regulator. What will Revolut’s entry mean for Canadian finance? Revolut's original business was really about free international currency transfers with near-interbank exchange rates. It also offers a debit card that can hold multiple currency balances, so that you don't get dinged when spending abroad.

So its initial client base will internationally mobile millennials. But in keeping with the shapeshifting nature of fintechs in the One Financial Bundle race, it has since expanded into adjacent markets like commission-free US stock trading, crypto trading, business banking, etc.

Revolut appears to have 29k Canadians on its waitlist (as you can tell by downloading its app).

TransferWise has already been semi-operant in Canada for a while, though they do not issue debit cards to Canadians for now.

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