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Competition in fintech? Not a sight, not a sound

Interview with Claudio Wilhelmer, Country Manager DACH at Revolut

European Business: Mr. Wilhelmer, Revolut is now present on the German market. There, you have a great deal of competition from other financial technology companies like N26 and the established banks. What do you do differently and better to win over customers?

Claudio Wilhelmer: We’re truly pleased to now offer customers in Germany too a real alternative to their existing bank account. With Revolut, users can open a mobile current account in more than 25 currencies in less than three minutes, and they can send and receive money both nationally and internationally free of charge. In addition, there’s a Mastercard that customers can use to pay online and in brick-and-mortar stores, and they can withdraw cash worldwide at no charge. Apart from Revolut, no one offers the true online exchange rates to the customers - that is one way in which we differ from the competition. The whole thing is managed completely digitally via an app. We’re constantly expanding our range of financial services, as well. For instance, we recently started mobile phone insurance with a partner in Germany. Similarly, as of the beginning of December, we also offer three crypto-currencies on our platform and will start with other products in the next few weeks, including flexible travel insurance as well as savings and lending products. Beyond that, we have applied for our own banking license and will thus provide a full-fledged range of banking services within the next few months. Therefore, we will offer customers more advantages with the same security not only in comparison to traditional banks but also when compared with new players who just this year have missed out on some huge innovations. In less than three months, we have managed to take over innovative leadership in Germany. We haven’t seen a thing or heard a sound from the alleged competition yet. In the coming year, the chaff will definitely be separated from the wheat. It is simply our aspiration to be the number one and not to bring up the rear as the number 26.

It is simply our aspiration to be the number one and not to bring up the rear as the number 26. Claudio Wilhelmer

European Business: You offer a free current account including a Mastercard as well as the opportunity to withdraw cash in more than 25 currencies without a fee. How do you finance this service?

Claudio Wilhelmer: Over the next year, we want to offer the complete spectrum of financial services that our customers expect. That comprises for instance individual IBAN numbers in all currencies on offer, individual overdrafts, consumer credit, and savings and investment products. On top of that come features like mobile payment or insurance products. We will start offering special products for the German market, as well. We always implement the offers our customers want. That is our principle when developing new products. Today, we are already operating profitably relative to individual customers, and therefore do not need to burden them financially.

European Business: Many fintech start-ups do not manage to gain acceptance on the market. How do you give your customers the security that you will be a long-term partner in the banking sector?

Claudio Wilhelmer: Many fintech start-ups often don’t build up the necessary traction despite having good ideas. In the meantime, Revolut itself is the fastest-growing fintech company in the world. In July we concluded one of the largest financing rounds in the sector and were able to acquire some of the most successful investors. In November we surpassed the one-million-customers mark and thus proved that we’re a reliable partner to our customers already today. Our growth gathers speed with each new customer because the range is impressive and our customers gladly recommend us to family members, friends and colleagues. What’s amazing is also that we’ve achieved this growth without a large marketing budget but simply by customers’ word of mouth.

Revolut is the account for a global lifestyle, but with the claim of being as local as possible. Claudio Wilhelmer

European Business: You promise banking for the global traveler. Is it worthwhile for normal customers to use your Mastercard without constantly using the app or having to travel the world?

Claudio Wilhelmer: Definitely. Revolut is the account for a global lifestyle, but with the claim of being as local as possible. You can compare it with the transition from the CD to Spotify or the DVD to Netflix: It is not a matter of products anymore, but of services. Everyone should just try out the free Revolut account as a second account to start off and then we believe that we will come out on top in the direct comparison with all the other players.

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