Revolut is gaining international popularity among businesses and consumers. It’s advertised as a platform for global spending and money transfers without exorbitant fees. Naturally, this service is something that people who travel a lot would be interested in.
In this review, we’ll see how Revolut works, whether it is safe for Australians to use it, the main features, pros/cons, and customer reviews. Overall, you’ll learn everything you need in order to come to the right decision.
Revolut is a digital bank. Initially, it was launched as a card for travelers with the advantage of having adequate exchange rates and quick money transfers. Over time, the platform expanded into several other areas.
The initial launch took place in the UK and was devised by Level39, a financial technology incubator in London. The founders saw an opportunity in this niche as they were wasting hundreds of pounds on foreign transaction fees while traveling. As a solution, they thought of a multi-currency card. At the moment, the app supports:
In 2019, Revolut launched in Australia. The company is still registered in the UK, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) remains the main regulatory body. In terms of the local regulations, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) permits the service to operate in Australia.
However, Revolut doesn’t have an Australian Deposit-taking Institution (ADI) license. That means that for the time being, all transactions that Australian customers make will be processed through an unnamed local bank using a trust account.
Revolut is an app-based product, and the sign-up is pretty quick. You need to download the mobile app and register without the proof of address or credit score verification. That said, you need to provide valid identification. Then you will receive a contactless card.
After the registration, you will gain access to the following functionalities:
Revolut’s capabilities are split into several sections. Below are the descriptions of some of the major ones.
This section summarizes all your accounts and their respective balances. For example, you can see the currency accounts that you’ve set up (AUD, USD, GBP, etc.). Here you can see your linked accounts, junior accounts, peer-to-peer platforms Lending Works, and other features.
You can also set up your virtual and physical cards. It includes features such as security settings, view/unlock your pin, set a monthly limit, and a lot more.
This one is the primary feature of this platform. In this section, you can send and receive money transfers from other users or bank accounts, arrange recurring payments, and split bills. There is an interesting feature called Vault, which directs spare change from transfers and recurring payments into a separate savings account.
This one includes multiple subcategories. Here you can manage your insurances, commodities, cryptocurrencies, lounges & smart delays, and even a concierge service. There is also a watchlist for interbank exchange rates that alerts you when the rates go beyond a certain threshold.
Revolut’s customers can receive discounts after the 10th transaction, donate to charities, and see the nearest ATM to their current location. Overall, there are multiple features that go beyond regular banking transactions.
Even though the main premise behind the Revolut’s marketing campaign is that it has no fees, there are some things users should know about. We’ll go through all fee categories one by one to give you a general idea of what to expect:
Revolut’s security policies are robust, and there haven’t been cases of cybersecurity exploits or leaks. The platform uses a ring-fence method, which is a virtual barrier for segregating a portion of an individual’s or company’s financial assets. This ensures an additional level of security for the client funds.
Revolut is also authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means that it follows the requirements of the Payment Services Regulations of 2017 and Electronic Money Regulations of 2011.
You can lock or unlock your account if you notice some suspicious activity, have lost your password or phone, or anything like that. Also, you can disable some features when you don’t need them, such as contactless payments, ATM withdrawal permission, online transactions, etc.
Much like any financial institution, Revolut employs special algorithms to detect and prevent fraud and money laundering. However, the service has been under scrutiny because of improper automated suspension of accounts.
The company explained that they lock the account for a review by a compliance agent. However, the problem is that it takes them a long time to address such cases. Revolut doesn’t have enough agents for all automated suspensions, and they don’t allow suspended users to contact the support channels. Instead, users have to interact with automated responses from a chatbot.
As a result, funds can be locked for months. There have been cases where customers had unsuccessful attempts to recover tens of thousands of dollars. For example, one particular company was unable to pay its staff without any justification being given.
Below is a table of reasons why Revolut is a good choice for you and some considerations that you should be aware of.
|An array of expanding extra featuresWide range of currencies with affordable transfersQuick application processFee-free ATM withdrawal even abroadEasy insurance paymentsGood security featuresBasic crypto exchange and shares trading||Limited capabilities in AustraliaNot completely fee-freeNo physical bank branchesLimits of cash withdrawalsNo deposit guaranteesPoor customer service|
Revolut’s main intention is to bring convenience and affordability to international spending and transfers. To fulfill this intention, the service offers various card options and in-app functionalities. If handled correctly, it could become a part of a comprehensive money management strategy.
This has the potential to be an indispensable tool for those who constantly travel and deal with multiple currencies. This applies to all kinds of users – individual travelers and international companies. The fee structure is also beneficial in numerous situations.
On the other hand, Revolut’s controversies raise some concerns. While wrongful account locks don’t happen with the majority of users, it’s an issue nonetheless. This could potentially mean losing all your funds for an unspecified amount of time and with only a vague chance of recovery. Also, the fact that the service is solely app-based can be a turn-off for some people.
Lastly, Australians should remember that Revolut isn’t considered an official bank or neo-bank in Australia. It is licensed by the ADI, so its operations are legal and regulated. However, the local transfers are processed by a bank that the service chooses not to disclose. If you’re interested in Revolut for local transactions in Australia, this is probably not the best choice. But when it comes to international operations, this service is worth looking into.