Revolut hopes to offer credit cards and loans to Irish customers by the end of the year, according to its chief executive.
However, Nikolay Storonsky said it could be early next year before the products can be launched, with the exact timing depending on whether the fintech company obtains adequate licenses from the Central Bank.
“We have applied for an e-money license in Ireland and we are also planning to apply for an Irish bank license,” he said. “So as soon as we get our e-money license, we’ll also be ready to apply for a banking license.
“We applied quite a long time ago – over a year ago – unfortunately in Ireland getting a license takes time.”
Mr. Storonsky was speaking to RTÉ News after his appearance at this year’s Dublin Tech Summit, which took place virtually yesterday.
He said Revolut staff in Dublin were already working to expand the products on offer, but the regulatory process had taken longer than expected.
“I think [the Central Bank] had a lot of nominations because of Brexit and they have a big backlog, “he said.” And obviously we are a very big institution for Ireland. “
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Obtaining a banking license in Ireland would allow Revolut to become a full-fledged challenger to European banks.
Mr Storonsky said it could eventually see him offering large mortgages and loans to clients here – although that is unlikely to be something he would do on his own.
“Auto loans and mortgages require a lot of capital and we like being in a small cap, low cap business,” he said.
“So maybe in the future we will offer these products, but we will most likely partner with banks or other financial providers.
Once Revolut obtains a license from the Central Bank, Mr Storonsky said the Irish office will expand, confirming that it will act as the company’s banking hub for Western Europe.
Lithuania would be its hub in Eastern Europe, while it would continue to have its headquarters in London.
Revolut’s user base also continues to grow, with the company now claiming to have 1.5 million users here.
It is particularly popular with younger users and announced yesterday that it has enrolled 100,000 under 17s for its “Revolut Junior” product.
Initially providing users with a way to save on foreign currencies and quickly transfer money to other users, Revolut has gradually added new features for users.
This includes its “vault” savings service and trading in stocks and cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have proven to be volatile investments, but Mr Storonsky said they make sure future traders know the risks before committing money.
“This is actually our number one priority,” he said. “Out of 15 million customers, we have 700,000 customers that we define as vulnerable, so crypto advertising is completely disabled for them.
“Before you trade, we actually give you a lot of information about the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the fact that you can potentially lose all of your capital,” he added.
He also denied that there was a conflict of interest in placing easily accessible trading options – which they make money with – alongside user savings.
“Our philosophy is, fundamentally, that if you want to invest money in stocks or cryptocurrencies, we have to provide you with the best possible product on the market,” Mr. Storonsky said. “And then if the investment is risky and their investment is volatile, we show you all the warning signs not to trade stocks and crypto.
“But at the end of the day, if you, as a customer, decide to trade cryptocurrencies or stocks, we prefer that you do it through us.”
Revolut has also faced complaints from some users about their accounts being locked out, with the company failing to explain or justify its action.
However, Mr Storonsky blamed the regulations – and said they worked hard to minimize disruption when it happened.
“The regulations clearly say that if our anti-money laundering system suspects that there is something wrong, we must stop a user’s transaction. And we cannot explain why we halted the user’s transaction as it might inform him, “he said.
“We are working hard in terms of timelines for unlocking an account,” he said. “It’s pretty fast now, whereas maybe a year or two ago it was pretty long.”