Revolut eyes Melbourne talent and customers’ interest

George Lekakis Fintech

Controversial banking and currency exchange disruptor Revolut is moving to power up its Australian operation after advertising 14 senior executive roles including a chief executive, CFO and head of credit.

The London-based company, which is one of the fastest growing fintechs in the world, is also seeking to recruit a chief risk officer, a senior internal legal team, a financial controller, regulatory experts and a host of other financial services specialists.

All of the senior roles are Melbourne-based.

The local rollout is part of an international expansion this year that will see the Revolut brand also launched in Singapore, the US and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The key to the company’s success in Europe has been its ability to undercut the banks on currency conversion charges for customers making payments to payees outside their home country.

Revolut has been beta-testing its products with 2000 Australian users since the start of April after it secured special relief from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Reserve Bank to market financial products without a financial services licence.

The company recently published a Product Disclosure Statement on its website for two of its core products – a prepaid Visa card and an electronic money account.

Banking Day yesterday inspected a version of the PDS appearing on Revolut’s Australian portal that includes mark-up notes and printing errors that render a section of the document unreadable.

Elsewhere in the document Revolut reveals that it is required to hold customers’ money in trust accounts at an Australian bank.

Funds are only moved out of the trust accounts when Revolut customers with electronic money accounts initiate transaction requests.

Banking Day has confirmed that Revolut has entered an arrangement with ANZ to manage the trust accounts.

However, the global fintech also reveals in the PDS that it intends to keep all interest earned on customers’ funds sitting in the trust accounts.

“The Revolut Electronic Money Account does not accrue interest,” the company tells customers in the PDS.

“Any interest accrued on funds held by Revolut in the trust account with an ADI will be kept by Revolut and will not be paid to you.”

Revolut has a waiting list of more than 30,000 Australian customers for the electronic money product and the Visa prepaid card.

In January the company announced on its Twitter page that it expected to launch in Australia within a few months, but the rollout has been delayed, the neobank hopeful one of many wondering where it ranks in APRA’s priorities.

While Revolut is reputed to have 4 million account holders and to be adding 15,000 new customers a week, its meteoric customer growth has been overshadowed this year by allegations of a toxic work culture and failing anti-money laundering systems.

Reports by the BBC and London’s Telegraph newspaper earlier this year have aired claims that the company halted blocks on accounts of customers whose names appeared on official sanctions lists.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority confirmed in March that it was assessing documents relating to the allegations made by former Revolut staff.

Revolut founder and chief executive Nikolay Storonsky denies the company ignored advice from compliance staff and insists it always met its anti-money laundering obligations.

The AML controversy, which erupted in March, came after ASIC granted special relief to the company to begin operating in Australia without the normal licensing requirement.