FinTech Rising: A Week in Review
Last week was a big week for digital finance, and you didn’t have to go to Finovate Europe (although some of us did) to see it. Three launches showed us how three very different market players are seeking to disrupt and stake a claim in the emerging digital financial ecosystem in the UK.
One of these players was Revolut, my personal favourite UK FinTech firm. Revolut, a free FX app and pre-paid card, has been around a while now, but made two exciting updates last week. The first was the roll out of its chatbot RITA (which we’ve been using in BETA for a few weeks). RITA replaces the chat service built into the app and seeks to provide users with general help and support. If RITA can’t help, you still get transferred to one of Revolut’s ever helpful agents.
However, the more significant release last week was of Revolut’s current accounts that can be opened in just three clicks (if the user has already been verified). This means Revolut customers can now have their salaries paid directly into their Revolut account. Now, this is not going to ruffle too many feathers in the incumbent banks, but what Revolut has always demonstrated so perfectly is how a FinTech firm can set out to solve very specific customer problems, in a way the big banks can only dream of. The service clearly targets people who travel frequently, have friends and family abroad, or even live between countries. Revolut cuts out the fees, but has previously required users to top up their account from an existing bank account. That is no longer necessary. With current accounts now in place, it will be interesting to see how Revolut will continue to raise awareness of its service.
Accounts with Moven and ING
The other two launches fall broadly into the same category: account aggregation. However, these new apps come from two starkly different firms. US challenger bank Moven and Dutch bank ING both launched services in the UK last week. Moven, once the flagship challenger bank, has more recently been focused on white-labelling its platform. However, the launch of its aggregating PFM app in the UK shows it still has the ambition to go directly to customers. The app has all the usual functionality US customers are familiar with, apart from the obvious omission of also providing a pre-paid card or full bank account. Indeed, Moven’s PFM functionality depends solely on information pulled from the user’s other accounts.
ING’s Yolt (which is currently only available to people who have signed up as BETA testers) has very similar functionality, and again is solely dependent on data drawn from accounts with existing banks and credit card providers. Of the two though, we would argue that Yolt is the one to watch. Being developed by a major European bank and with nice UX, the process of handing over banking login details already feels far more comfortable than the experiences we have had with other aggregator tools such as Pariti and Cleo. However, ING’s advantage is not just about feeling more trustworthy, it’s the fact that it could (in the future) offer its own financial products to non-ING customers that are using Yolt as an aggregator. We have already seen this with Pariti and Prosper (in the US), who position consolidation loans within their PFM solutions.
The big question is then, is ING using Yolt (and the general opportunities presented by PSDII) as a route to re-entering the UK market? The short answer is probably yes, but we have yet to see exactly how it’s going to do it.