Revolut has gained a banking license as the latest fintech to switch into the regulated banking world. "In a statement, Nikolay Storonsky, Revolut chief executive, said: "Our vision is that retail and business customers will be able to apply for a loan in just two minutes) from within the app, and then have the money in their account almost instantly. We'll remove the bureaucratic process and come in cheaper than traditional lenders." The move into lending will put the bank into more direct competition with other online banks and digital upstarts such as the UK's Monzo and Germany's N26. However, Mr Storonsky said Revolut had a 'broader vision' than its start-up rivals, citing its international expansion and move into businesses such as stock trading." We noted earlier this year that Lithuania was a logical place for Revolut to obtain its licence, given the Lithuanian financial regulator and central bank's interest in establishing the country as a leader in blockchain and digital assets. Revolut put a rocket under its customer numbers during 2018, now claiming around three million customers, and its defiant pursuit of offering a basic crypto wallet for its customers was part of that spurt.
Who will get there first? Will challenger banks start offering free or super-low cost data services to consumers and business clients, or will telcos and MNOs start offering free data to customers that use mobile money? It's on the way, we reckon. Michael Jordaan, who is preparing to launch smartphone-based Bank Zero in 2019 thinks that crypto phones will be commonplace in a few years time (okay, he reckons ten years). As Jordaan tweeted recently of South Africa's Rain data offering, "It hasn't sunk in yet but low data rates from @RainCoZa means it is now much cheaper overall to buy a smartphone (and use Whatsapp calling) than buying a feature phone (to make traditional voice calls)."
Incidentally, there is a convergence at work here which is not easy to spot at first. Samsung yesterday offered a non-denial denial of speculation that its 10 series phones will include cold storage or secure wallets for cryptocurrencies, after reports circulated that the electronics giant has filed patents in Europe. "The Korean-headquartered transnational tech conglomerate had recently filed three E.U. trademarks for blockchain- and cryptocurrency-software Dec. 10. As reported by Samsung community news sharing site SamMobile today, Dec. 11, the trademark requests are part of alleged plans to offer a cryptocurrency cold wallet on the Galaxy S10 smartphone, but this suggestion was swiftly refuted by Samsung in private correspondence with Cointelegraph." In fact, all Samsung did was refuse to comment on the rumour. Yes Samsung would be just the latest big phone manufacturer to move in this direction, following moves earlier this year by both HTC and Huawei.
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