The London-based fintech has revolutionized banking since its launch in 2015. But is your money safe with it?
You know a product or a company has truly taken off when its name can be used as a verb. We all google things online almost every single day. We hoover our homes. And now we regularly revolut our friends money. It’s a testament to the fintech's huge popularity that it’s managed to achieve this ubiquity in English parlance in the space of a few short years.
But what exactly is Revolut? Is it a bank? Does it actually offer a current account in the traditional sense? And is your money as safe in its app as it is with any of the main pillar banks?
Who is Revolut?
Revolut is a UK-headquartered fintech company which launched in 2015 and has over 20 million customers worldwide, almost two million of whom are in Ireland.
Revolut is oftentimes referred to as a ‘digital bank’, with all its services being carried out through its mobile app.
Revolut offers largely free day-to-day banking. There’s no monthly or annual maintenance fee for using its app, there’s no charge for chip and pin or contactless transactions. There’s no fee for standing orders or direct debit payments either. And best of all, there’s no foreign exchange fees on purchases made outside the Eurozone up to a limit of €1,000 a month.
And since March 2022, it has started offering low-cost personal loans to customers.
Is Revolut a bank?
But this wasn't always the case.
Revolut used to operate in Ireland under an electronic money or e-money licence. Before Brexit it operated on a licence it had passported over from the UK. And after Brexit it operated under an e-money licence it had passported over from Lithuania for a few years.
Under EU passporting rules, a bank or financial institution which is licensed in one EU country is able to ‘passport’ or transfer that licence to another country and operate there without having to get full regulatory approval all over again.
In late 2018 Revolut received a banking licence in Lithuania to operate as a bank there. And in March 2022 it started using that licence to operate as a bank in Ireland and several other EU countries.
Because Revolut has no physical presence or branch network, it may not 'feel' like a bank to some people in the traditional sense. But legally it is now a bank and offers pretty much all the services you would expect a 'normal' bank to offer - and more!
Is my money safe with Revolut?
Yes. As Revolut is a bank its customers are covered by the 'bank guarantee'.
You may be familiar with the Central Bank’s Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS). This scheme protects depositors in the event of a bank, building society or credit union that is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland being unable to repay depositors.
The scheme covers deposits of up to €100,000 per institution in things such as current accounts, savings accounts, demand deposit accounts, fixed-term deposit accounts and share accounts.
The Irish DGS also protects deposits held at EU branches of authorised Irish institutions. So for example if AIB was offering savings accounts to German customers from a branch in Berlin, these customers would be covered by the Irish scheme and not the German one.
As Revolut has a Lithuanian banking licence and is therefore regulated by the Lithuanian central bank, its customers in Ireland are covered by Lithuania's own version of the DGS up to €100,000.
So your money is as safe with Revolut as it is with any other Irish lender.
We've focussed on how safe your money is with Revolut in the unlikely event of a collapse and it not being able to repay depositors.
But how safe is your money on a day-to-day basis?
Here Revolut has a big advantage over its rivals.
It claims to be seven times better at stopping card fraud than the main high-street banks and it allows customers to easily stay in control of their money with a range of in-app security features that you can toggle on and off at the touch of a button. For example, you can easily disable online payments or contactless payments for added security if you like. You can also temporarily freeze and unfreeze your card.
And you can receive up-to-the-minute push notifications on your spending so you'll know immediately when your card has been used.
Its virtual disposable cards also make paying for goods online super safe.
Plus, all of your card transactions are processed by either the Mastercard or Visa network (depending on the card you have) and are therefore protected by their payment rules.
Consider all options
When looking for a current account, it’s essential to consider all of the options available to you so that you can choose the account that best suits your needs.
At bonkers.ie, you can compare current accounts across a range of providers with our easy-to-use comparison tool. It only takes a few minutes and could help save you money on banking fees.
We recently released an episode of our bonkers.ie podcast, which took a deep dive into current accounts. In the podcast episode, we outlined the pros and cons of current account options, from traditional banks to fintechs like Revolut.