Revolut plans 2021 credit card launch in bid to crack US market

Revolut intends to launch a credit card for its US users as soon as the end of this year, as part of its strategy to make a big impression in the overseas market.

It will mark the first time the digital bank has launched a credit card outside select European countries, where it is able to passport its Lithuanian banking licence.

“[In] the US, we love our credit, even more than in other countries,” Revolut’s US chief executive Ron Oliveira told Financial News, speaking on the Barron’s Live podcast. “This fall, we’ll have an unsecured line of credit as a consumer retail product, as well as credit cards, but that won’t come until the end of the year, [or] first [quarter] of next year.”

Revolut first opened its doors in New York in March 2020, though its plans for a major US debut were quickly dampened by the global pandemic and multiple lockdowns.

The fintech firm is targeting a reach of a million users in the US by the close of 2021, as part of a major marketing blitz in the region. It would mark one of the first successful debuts for a European digital bank in the market, with launches by Monzo and N26 yet to take off amid fierce competition from local rivals.

READ Revolut to launch major US blitz as it targets a million users this year

The return to the office for financial firms globally has been marked by the pandemic’s revival, with cases soaring as the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads. Wall Street institutions including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have made a push for US staff to get their jabs, while some such as Vanguard have offered financial incentives to get vaccinated.

In a wide-ranging interview, Oliveira said Revolut had chosen not to make vaccination against Covid-19 a requirement of returning to work in its offices in New York, San Francisco and Dallas.

“We have not mandated that you have to be vaccinated to come into the office. What we’ve been following is the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and its recommendations,” Oliveira said, citing requirements to wear a mask and practise social distancing. “We have not come across with an official policy that goes beyond just what the experts tell us.”

Revolut filed a draft banking licence application in California earlier this year, as part of plans to be able to operate independently from its US sponsor bank Metropolitan Commercial Bank.

Oliveira said the bank welcomed the increased scrutiny, as US regulators step up their spotlight on the fintech sector. Local fintech giants such as Robinhood have found themselves under the magnifying glass in recent months as adoption of services took off amid rising demand for products such as stock trading and cryptocurrencies — both of which Revolut offers.

READ Robinhood shares fall on SEC’s warning of possible restrictions on payment for order flow

“Early on, the regulators looked at fintechs as too small to really worry too much about. Now they’re too big to ignore,” said Oliveira.

“Regulators are wanting to take a deeper dive into fintech and see what regulation additions they may need because… maybe in the future, some of them may even be systemic risks that they want to make sure are well monitored.”

Revolut plans to launch its stock-trading feature in the US in the coming months, Oliveira added, having racked up about a million users of the product in Europe so far.

Revolut raised $800m in fresh capital in July from new investors SoftBank and Tiger Global, making it the UK’s most valuable tech startup ever at $33bn. Oliveira said the funding would be put towards financing its growth plans in the US, and chasing banking licences in the UK, Singapore and Australia.

The full interview with Ron Oliveira is available to listen to via Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle

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