London-based fintech firm Revolut has emerged as a heavyweight of the European scene. The company, which pledges to offer pre-paid card customers real-time exchange rates and low-cost money transfers, closed a $5.3 million equity crowdfunding round last week. That will allow it to vastly expand its product portfolio, head of brand Chad West tells Red Herring–and continue hiring for a forthcoming rapid scaling operation.
What most surprised you while founding and growing Revolut?
The growth has been unimaginable. We’ve signed up more than 750,000 customers in under two years with a zero marketing spend. Word of mouth recommendations have grown this company beyond my early estimations. For other ambitious startups, if you solve a real everyday problem for consumers and ensure their user experience is always the top priority, you’ll see tremendous organic growth.
Are traditional banks adapting their customer offerings to combat your entry in the market?
The big banks are doing their best to play to catch-up, but there is far too much red tape and bureaucracy for them to cause us any problems. If we want to implement a new feature or service to the app, we can have this done and dusted in a week. For the big banks, they’ll be looking at a 6-12 month period of consultation and internal bickering! The other advantage we have is that we run every product decision by our community. We listen and learn from them and focus on the areas of banking that matter most to them. Again, ensuring that our customer experience is always central.
It’s a common problem for fintech companies to experience difficulties with regards customer service, and Revolut has been no different. How will you scale your customer service to meet demand?
When experiencing such rapid growth as Revolut has been, there will always be early teething problems in keeping up with demand. Since raising our $66m investment round, we’ve hired an entire new team of customer service agents to help us provide a fast and efficient service to our customers.
We’re also heavily investing in our artificial support bot Rita to help customers with simple issues. Rita is currently resolving 28% of issues raised to her. We also pride ourselves in being open and transparent with our customers with regards to technical issues.
If for whatever reason we have a technical issue, all customers are sent push notifications with updates, our social media feeds provide live updates and we’ll always let them know what caused these issues and how we are preventing them from happening again in the future. Good luck getting such an open and honest service from the big banks!
How important a step is the company’s development that customers can have their own IBANs? Have users experienced trouble moving money into the Lithuanian account?
There were a few banks across Europe who had issues identifying an LT IBAN to a UK BIC due to their dated technology. We took action immediately and have already secured UK IBANs with UK BICs to resolve the issue. this demonstrated again our speed and efficient service to always improve the user experience.
Do you think that Revolut is now a viable alternative to a traditional banking account? Which features are next on the agenda in this respect?
We’re pretty much there. From personal current accounts, free money transfers, fee-free global spending and now business accounts, the big banks are taking a hit. We also plan to introduce standing orders and direct debits in the near future and predict this will be the final nail in the coffin.
What is your first goal regarding your recent funding round? Is getting offices across the world quickly a big part of your scale plans?
We’ll be expanding into the US and Singapore later this year and we’re hiring a number of country managers across key European markets. We’ll also be launching a host of new products including cryptocurrency integration and an investment platform. We’ve also expanded our global team to more than 150 people and our London HQ is growing every day.
Is there a threat the company may spread itself too thin with products? When do you expect to narrow down your sights and focus on just a handful of features – or will you become a full-blown bank?
We don’t think so. We engage with our community every day and ask them what they feel is missing in the banking industry. We only introduce products that we believe will benefit the majority of our users based on their feedback. Our company tag line is ‘Beyond Banking’, and so introducing new features and services that the big banks do not allows us to live up to that reputation. In regards to a banking license, we are always open to exploring this but no decisions have been made.