The Next Big Remittance Revolut(ion)

Revolut

Whether you’re a traveller, digital nomad or migrant worker, we all strive to find the best deal when using a debit or credit card abroad. Essentially, we all want the best rates and minimal ATM or transactional fees.

As I’m sat here writing this blog post in Bali, I want to share with you my thoughts on Revolut, a relatively new London-based fintech start-up company that launched in 2015. As many industry experts like to say, Revolut has been #disruptive, making big strides in the money transfer industry, including entering the highly competitive remittances sphere.

Why did I choose Revolut?

A week before I jetted off to South East Asia, I was discussing the continent with a friend who had travelled earlier this year. She mentioned Revolut and claimed it was the best prepaid travel card she had ever used. Naturally, I was curious and following some research into the company, I discovered Revolut’s very reasonable perks:

  • Overseas ATM withdrawals - free up to £200 (or currency equivalent) per calendar month. A 2% fee applies thereafter;
  • Mastercard functionality;
  • Option to exchange into USD, EUR to carry on your card (better rates than transferwise);
  • Currency exchange transactions (exchange and cross-currency card purchases, withdrawals, and bank transfers) - live market rate* with no fees, up to £5000 (or currency equivalent) per calendar month. A 0.5% fee applies thereafter**.[1]

Revolut allows its customers the chance to convert currencies at interbank rates and it has provided me with almost identical FX rates for transferring and withdrawing money in Indonesian Rupiah and Philippine Pesos so far on my travels. I recently paid for a flight from Manila to Hanoi in PHP and saved precisely £4.18 paying in this currency rather than GBP. Every little helps!

I also love the fact that as soon as you complete a transaction, you’ll receive an instant push notification to your phone from Revolut, telling you exactly the amount you’ve just spent and the currency conversion.

The company is obviously doing well. In March 2017, Business Insider reported that the company had 530,000 users across 42 European countries after just 18 months[2].

How does it work?

You’ll need a smartphone to download the app. Once you’ve got the app, you’ve got yourself a digital wallet. However, if you want the prepaid card you’ll need to order one for either £5 (standard delivery) or £12 (express next-day service), but these are the only fees you’re going to have to pay for! You don’t need a bank account. If your card is lost or stolen, you can instantly deactivate your card through the app on your phone.

Comparing Rates

Previously on my travels, I used the Caxton FX currency card. Comparing the rates between Caxton and Revolut, Revolut wins by a country mile. In Indonesia, Caxton offers a rather unfavourable rate of £1 to 16,750rp. The rate given by currency converter, XE, was £1 = 17,087.63rp and I withdrew money using my Revolut card at a rate of £1 = 17,060.09rp.[3]

Moreover, their rates for Euro and USD are very competitive. They have been taking on Transferwise with some vengeance. Revolut recently launched free international money transfers and users can transfer up to £5000 free of charge. Transferring more than £5000 will incur a 0.5 per cent charge and its biggest rival, money transfer app TransferWise, also charges 0.5 per cent for transferring and converting £5,000 to euros.[4]

 

What have you spent your money on?

Another aspect I really like about Revolut is that it splits your transactions into categories to determine how you’ve spent your money – i.e. shopping, restaurants, entertainment, transport, cash etc.

What needs to improve?  Answer: Customer Service/Support

Unfortunately, as I arrived in Bangkok, I tried to withdraw money and discovered that my Revolut card had been compromised. Somewhere in India, someone had stolen around £190 from my account. The support provided by Revolut after this incident was not good. I perpetually messaged the support staff on the app to retrieve my money but to no avail, with six days passing without them responding to me. Thus, I had to vent my frustration on their official page on Facebook, and received a much quicker response with this route thankfully speeding up the process.  The support part of the application needs considerable work with additional customer service support required. If you encounter an issue like I did, Revolut should really offer the option of a number to call in these situations. It was extremely irritating having to wait for their staff to come online (you can’t even send them a message when they’re not and I am 7/8 hours ahead of GMT in South East Asia). Moreover, after much persistence, I was given a chargeback form to fill out and eventually received a full refund after 16 days.

I’d definitely recommend Revolut to all those unhappy with their current card provider abroad or for someone looking to trial an alternative company to send remittances home at favourable rates and minimal fees. I know it is in early stages, but Revolut, please work on your customer support.

 

[1] https://revolut.com/faq/#are-there-any-charges

[2] http://www.businessinsider.co.id/fintech-app-revolut-launches-peer-to-pe...

[3] http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=GBP&To=IDR

[4] https://www.ft.com/content/45c6bbae-38bd-11e7-821a-6027b8a20f23