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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 05 March 2019

Daily briefing - 05 March 2019

A Revolut payment card
A Revolut payment card

Revolut has much to live up to, with a name like that. If its online community board is anything to go by, Revolut's customer numbers will be falling this week. "This article completely changed my attitude towards Revolut," writes one user. "I will now look for an alternative service and cancel my Revolut account." The article in question, published last week in Wired magazine, describes a culture that sounds in thrall to the 'move fast and break things' philosophy. "Laura (not her real name) wasn't aware of these problems when she applied to be a Spanish business development manager, last year," writes Wired. "She loved the product — an app and card that provided zero-fee international money transfers, the ability to use digital currency bitcoin, as well as other services — and was excited at the prospect of working for the company. She did a 30-minute job interview over Google Hangouts with the London-based head of business development, Andrius Biceika, and was immediately told she had passed to the next round, which would involve a small test." The test involved getting Revolut as many clients as possible, with each depositing ten euros into the app. "The instructions on the exercise said the applicants should recruit at least 200 clients in a week to have a chance at passing to the next interview phase." The article harks back to chief executive's Nikolay Storonsky's claims that Revolut is not a place for nine-to-five workers. Revolut may not even be that bothered by the criticism, but as another customer writes, this is the canary in the coalmine.

Revolut is not alone among challenger banks hiring just one or two person to launch and run a distant market. Not only that, but some regulatory authorities are loosening standards in order to drive competition. Take the notoriously concentrated Australian banking makert, for instance: Revolut has been granted an interim period of operating without a licence. "An absurdity of consumer protection in the Australian financial services industry was revealed last night after ASIC confirmed that financial institutions could legitimately make customers lodge complaints to offshore addresses or international phone numbers," write George Lekakis in Banking Day. "ASIC confirmed the problematic reality in answers to questions put by Banking Day concerning controversial UK mobile payments company, Revolut Ltd." According to a listing on the website of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), local customers wishing to file a complaint against Revolut are required to send written grievances to the company's London office or to ring a British phone number. ASIC has granted Revolut a nine-month exemption to operate in Australia as a financial services provider without a licence." This is not Revolut's problem alone: any aspiring banker that wants his or her bank to be the 'Uber of Banking' needs to pay attention to what's happened at Uber over the last two years.

A gentle reminder comes via Barclaycard that China's UnionPay International has now outpaced the traditional global giants. "UnionPay has the world's largest cardholder base, presenting a significant opportunity for British retailers to cater to the growing number of Chinese visiting the UK," says the UK cards business, which announces a deal today to allow Barclaycard's 110,000 UK merchants to accept UnionPay through a phased roll out that is set to begin this summer. Barclaycard's PR team can hardly keep up with the string of new announcements happening in recent days. (We reported last week of a new Barclaycard partnership with Discover). The pace of change suggests that Barclaycard is responding to imminent political change in Europe.

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