"Revolut has reached 90,000 users in Romania"

Emilia Olescu translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu
Ziarul BURSA #English Section /

"Revolut has reached 90,000 users in Romania"

Present for a little over six months in Romania, the Revolut fintech has reached 90,000 users on the domestic market, and the company's goal is to reach 100,000 users by the end of the current year, according to Irina Nicoleta Scarlat, Country Manager Revolut România. She said that the total turnover of transactions made in Romania has passed 275 million Euros in October.

Revolut was created in July 2015, its users can set up a current account in 60 seconds and spend their money abroad in over 150 currencies.

The company has recently announced the launch on the Romanian market of a metal card that will refund to customers up to 1% of the money spent, in traditional currencies or cryptocurrencies. Users will be able to withdraw up to 2400 lei from any ATM in the world and will benefit from a dedicated concierge service to reserve anything, from flights, to tickets for festivals, the press release states.

Among the benefits that the customers of Revolut Metal will enjoy include: unlimited currency exchange at the interbank exchange rate, free international transfers, 24/7 priority support and travel medical insurance which includes healthcare and dental services, as well as covers flight delays or luggage loss.

(Interview with Irina Nicoleta Scarlat, Country Manager Revolut Romania)

Reporter: How has the Revolut fintech been received in Romania?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: The warm welcome that we have enjoyed since the beginning confirms the fact that a product like Revolut was needed in Romania. Romanians are fed up with paying unjustified bank fees and commissions, losing money whenever they travel abroad due to the exchange rate spreads, or taking trips to the bank whenever they need something.

Reporter: In relation to the evolution of Revolut in Romania over the first semester, how would you describe the consumer of this kind of services?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: The median age of Revolut users in Romania is 34 years old, with a relatively equal distribution between men and women, owner of smartphone, with median or high revenues, ("tech-savvy"), which travels frequently for personal or business interests.

Romanians use Revolut mostly for online shopping and safe card payments, 69.27% of the transactions are online and offline card payments. Bank transfers represent 15.24% of the total transactions, whereas 9.23% are currency exchanges at the interbank exchange rate provided by Revolut. Only 6.27% of the total number of transactions are cash withdrawals, showing that Romania is taking important steps towards becoming a cashless society.

The main Romanian retailers that Romanians choose to use their Revolut card with are Carrefour, Auchan, Taxify, Ali Express, McDonald's, InMedio and Digi România, which proves that Revolut is becoming the main account for an increasing number of users, which are using the Revolut card to pay for their purchases, day to day expenses and bills.

The Revolut users in Romania actively use the Vault digital piggy banks, the saving option that rounds up every payment and saves the difference. Romanians have opened up over 15,000 Vault piggy banks and have saved over 3 million lei in doing so, using a combination of penny saving and recurring payments to save money for the important events, holidays or investments in real estate and cryptocurrencies.

Reporter: How do you feel Romanians get educated on this segment?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: Romania is still behind as far as financial education is concerned, in comparison with Western countries, and only 15% of the online orders are currently paid by card. In all of Eastern Europe, we are seeing a reluctance in using cards and financial applications, and that lack of trust can only be addressed through financial education.

For the most part, Romanians get their information online, where they have access to resources. One important influence factor is however the community that they are part of: the opinions and recommendations of people around them are often times more valuable than online information, which is treated with skepticism. Because of that, the community is the main rise vector of Revolut - we are focusing on developing an excellent product which answers some real needs, and the happy users will recommend it to their entourage.

Reporter: Given the quick evolution of digitalization, how quickly do you think that such fintechs will appear in Romania?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: I think that soon, part of the European/global fintech companies will launch their products on the Romanian market as well. Revolut saw the huge potential for growth in Romania and in the region, so we have decided to offer users the possibility of having current accounts in the local currencies, and the fact that we are the first players on the market comes with advantages, but also with specific challenges.

Reporter: How have banks received this product, in Romania and abroad?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: I think that the attitude in the banking system varies greatly. The banks that understand the impact of digitalization on financial services watch Revolut and use it as a model for the simplification and digitalization of the services they provide to customers. Also, there are banks that prefer to minimize the impact of Revolut in particular, and that of fintechs in general, on the market, a regrettable attitude given the fact that adaptation is necessary to survive under the new market conditions.

Reporter: What are the benefits of using this service - how much longer do the costs pertaining to bank transactions decrease, how much faster are they, does it involve fees, and if yes, what are their types and amounts ...

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: Revolut is a digital banking alternative which helps users control their financial resources better, the only application fit for our global life style. With Revolut you can open up a current account in 60 seconds, straight from the application, you can spend money in 150+ currencies using a Contactless Visa or Mastercard card at the interbank exchange rate, you can transfer money free of charge to any account in the world, you can withdraw money from any ATM without fees and you easily monitor your fees. Add to that the fact that you can trade cryptocurrencies directly from the application, through a simple push of a button, and that soon, you will be able to invest in companies listed on the exchanges of Great Britain and the United States. Revolut is essentially the application where users can manage their entire financial life.

Last but not least, Revolut helps users save money, gives them visibility of their expenses and unprecedented safety through the cutting edge technology which the service is based on. And the best part is that everything is very simple.

Reporter: What purposes is Revolut most frequently used for in Romania?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: We are happy to see that an increasing number of users choose to use Revolut for their day to say spending. Most often, individuals set up a Revolut account when they have to travel. They initially use it during the trip and they are impressed by the simplicity of the product and the savings made on the currency exchange rates. When they come back to Romania, Revolut gradually becomes their go-to card for their day-to-day needs and they use it for the usual purchases.

Reporter: What are the steps that a user must take to use this service?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: It only takes a few minutes to start using Revolut: you download the app from App Store/Google Play, you create an account in a few seconds, you confirm your identity by loading in the app pictures of both sides of your ID card and a selfie and you can start using the service. The account is very simple to fill, through a button push, directly from a bank card, and the card can be ordered directly from the application. Until the physically card arrives, users can order a virtual card which can be used for online shopping.

Reporter: How many Revolut users are there in Romania?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: We are glad to announce that we have recently reached 90,000 users in Romania and we are nearing the ambitious objective of reaching 100,000 users by the end of the year (we are convinced we will exceed it).

Reporter: What is the total value of the transactions conducted in Romania?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: The total turnover of transactions made in Romania has passed 275 million Euros in October.

Reporter: How many countries is the fintech used in?

Irina Nicoleta Scarlat: The service is available in all countries in the European Economic Space. Romania currently ranks seventh in the chart of countries with the most users, after Great Britain, France, Poland, Ireland, Spain and Latvia.

Reporter: Thank you!

Recorded by Emilia Olescu

Irina Scarlat has ten years of experience in the field, of which seven in technology, marketing and the management of projects and teams. She is in charge of the Revolut operations in Romania. Prior to joining the Revolut team, she has led the marketing division of Uber România, she has defined the local strategy and has gotten involved in different strategic initiatives on a regional level.

Revolut, in Europe

Revolut, headquartered in London, has over 2,500,000 users in Europe and has processed so far over 150 million transactions, amounting to more than 22 billion dollars. Revolut has raised total funding of 336 million dollars from known investors, such as Index Ventures, Balderton Capital, Ribbit Capital or DST Global.

The revenues of Revolut have increased 5 times last year, from 2.4 million GBP to 12.8 million GBP, the monthly transaction volume has increased from 200 million dollars to 1.5 billion dollars, according to a press release of the company. It mentions that the number of users has tripled, from 450,000 to 1.3 million.

The company posted a total loss of 14.8 million GBP in 2017, while it doubled its team to over 400 employees, it has worked actively on its expansion on 10 international markets, it has applied for a European banking license and has begun work on the development of a commission free investment platform, the quoted press release further states.

Nik Storonsky, founder and & CEO of Revolut recently said: "We have launched all of our revenue generating products in 2017: the Premium accounts in April, the business accounts in June and cryptocurrency trading in December. The fact that we have succeeded in raising our revenues 5 times and tripling our number of users in 2017 represent a confirmation of the results of these initiatives".

The growth pace has not slowed down in 2018, the Revolut representative says, who expects a year with better results than those of last year. Revolut is nearing 3 million users in Europe, it is opening 7,000 new accounts per day, processes 3 billion dollars a year and has over 500 employees all over the world.

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