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Tuesday 25 June 2019


Revolut relying on kids to convert older users

Written by Peter Walker

Revolut’s head of business development has revealed that as its budget won’t stretch to marketing to older demographics, the mobile-only bank is relying on sons and daughters to educate and convert their parents.

As part of a panel at UK Finance’s Digital Innovation Summit yesterday afternoon, Andrius Biceika admitted that the challenger bank still had a way to go before it is regarded as customers’ main banking service.

When pushed on what it would take to get there, he suggested the addition of things like direct debits. “We need to engage with other parts of the banking ecosystem, adopting Apple Pay or integrating for merchant accounts for example,” he added.

Fellow panel member and payment sector startup Flora Coleman, head of government relations for Transferwise, pointed out that FinTechs are “trying to solve problems other than those people use traditional banks for”, like accounts without foreign exchange fees for instance.

The panel was tasked with debating how the existing ‘pipes and rails’ of UK payment infrastructure were a platform for innovation, with Payment Systems Regulator chief executive Paul Horlock explaining that his organisation’s consultative approach may have slowed down progress, but that’s “a good thing” if it means safe propositions with a clear customer focus.

He noted that when he was at AgeUK, research had found that older people actually prefer “slower” or certainly safer-feeling and trusted payments systems.

Biceika shot back that Millennials and Generation Z demographics are increasingly bypassing current infrastructure altogether with the way they pay, and that “users don’t care about the infrastructure underneath”.

Caitriona Whelan, head of compliance and controls at NatWest, added that traditional banks reply on their reputation for safety and security, with rising customer bases in recent years, although she did thank FinTech’s for pushing the industry to engage in more digital ways.

Over in the RegTech Theatre, banks were also the topic of debate, with Fenergo vice chairman Spencer Lake stating that regulation has forced banks for digitise, but also opened them up to cyber risks.

He argued that banks in Europe were over-regulated, when compared to those in America and Asia, with FinTech’s having an easier ride due to only being regulated at the product level, rather than product and corporate level for banks.

Murat Abur, chief technology officer at Suade, disagreed, responding that regulation is “doing a good job” and “not creating structural issues”. He added that other regulations and regulators apply to tech firms, so they too have to adapt.

UK Finance’s director of technology Dan Crisp concluded by suggesting “regulators are often the adults in the room” and that they set the bar high, which drives innovation and “forces creativity out of the shadows”.

He added that cybersecurity should not be a competitive edge between banks, but rather they should collaborate to battle the problem “more like NATO”.

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