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Revolut will begin rolling out services in the US by the end of this year following a partnership with Mastercard, reports Reuters. Per the agreement, Revolut’s US debit cards will be issued with Mastercard, while at least half of its existing and future cards issued in Europe will also carry Mastercard’s branding.
The announcement puts Revolut at the heart of the battle for dominance between Mastercard and Visa, with the latter also recently agreeing to a deal with the neobank for its global expansion.
The news is another step forward for Revolut’s long-awaited US launch. Like its European peers N26 and Monzo, Revolut has long-held ambitions of offering its services in the US, with the aim of undercutting the country’s established incumbents.
In fact, the startup planned on launching in the country as far back as the end of last year, with CEO Nik Storonsky saying it’d already signed up to 60,000 people to its waiting list, per TechCrunch. While Revolut hasn’t explained the reasons for the delay, it’s seemingly managed to iron out those wrinkles, including settling on a card issuing counterpart.
While this is good news in the short run, Revolut still has its work cut out for it if it’s to succeed in the US.
- The US remains a highly competitive market. Chime, the only US neobank unicorn, has already amassed 5 million customers, with 4 million of those added since mid-2018. And even then, consumers in general have been reticent to use neobanks, with only 2% of the population having opened an account with these upstarts, per Kantar data seen by Business Insider Intelligence. This is because incumbents have been quick to spend large sums of money to up their digital capabilities: As of Q3 2019, JPMorgan Chase, for instance, had 51.8 million active digital customers — up 7% year-over-year (YoY) — 36.5 million of whom use mobile banking, marking a 12% spike YoY. And nonbank fintechs are increasingly making a play for the banking space, with the likes of Robinhood, a commission-free trading fintech, introducing a bank-like feature earlier this month. Cutting through this noise, and differentiating, isn’t going to be easy or cheap for Revolut.
- Revolut doesn’t have the best regulatory record — and when it comes to banking, the US is a complex legal quagmire. The company has faced scrutiny regarding how it handles compliance on multiple occasions, including allegations that thousands of transactions passed through its systems without adequate checking. The company has also faced claims of links to the Russian government, a sensitive subject given the US is approaching its first election since allegations of Russian involvement in 2016 votes. If Revolut is to have any hope of success, it needs to ensure it doesn’t stray into the spotlight for the wrong reasons — and that’s before it can start to think about its customer service, for which it’s also faced a barrage of criticism.
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