Revolut pushes further into banking space with launch of loans in Ireland

1 Feb 2022

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Revolut plans to up its competition with legacy banks in Ireland as KBC and Ulster Bank withdraw from the market.

Fintech company Revolut has opened a waiting list for customers in Ireland looking for personal loans, marking its first step in launching Revolut Bank services in the country.

The move follows a decision by the European Central Bank to grant Revolut a full banking license last December. The company, which already has 1.7m customers in Ireland, now plans to launch loans and other bank services such as credit cards later this year.

Future Human

Revolut said Irish customers will be able to apply for loans instantly and receive an answer on their application within seconds. Loans will also be available for new customers.

Revolut Europe CEO Joe Heneghan, who was previously the company’s Irish boss, said it hopes to offer more competition and innovation in Ireland.

“With the imminent withdrawal of KBC and Ulster Bank from the market, it is clear that a new bank is needed to compete with legacy banks on price and service,” Heneghan said. “Customers can now register their interest in a Revolut personal loan, and we look forward to delivering more innovative products this year.”

To date, Revolut Bank has launched in 28 European countries. Pricing details have not yet been released for loans or credit cards with Revolut Bank in Ireland.

Deposits held in Revolut Bank will carry deposit guarantee protection of up to €100,000 per user backed by the Lithuanian Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

The fintech company moved its Irish accounts to Lithuania at the end of 2020 as its UK e-money licence would not be valid in Ireland after Brexit. It said the move would be temporary as it was seeking a licence from the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Irish Times now reports that Revolut has dropped plans to use the e-money licence approved by Ireland’s Central Bank last year, as it is now using the licence from the European Central Bank.

Changes to the banking sector

Daragh Cassidy, head of communications at Bonkers.ie, said the Irish banking sector is looking “fairly bleak” with the imminent exits of Ulster Bank and KBC, along with reports of EBS pulling back on some of its services.

“So to say this is good news for consumers here is an understatement,” Cassidy said. “Revolut has literally revolutionised the banking sector since it started operating less than a decade ago. However, until now, many people still only used their accounts for sending money or when travelling abroad.”

Cassidy added that many people may have been reluctant to consider Revolut for their full banking needs, due to its lack of credit products and its lack of a banking licence in Ireland.

“But this is likely to start to change and it will be interesting to see how the main Irish retail banks AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB react,” he said. “Up until now, the Irish banks have been slow to react to the advances of Revolut, and N26, in the market … that will have to change.”

Cassidy expects Revolut Bank’s rates to be “extremely competitive” but was disappointed that no information on an overdraft has been announced, which would be a “key requirement” for many people looking to switch accounts.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com