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digital banking

Revolut takes 'first steps' toward offering loans and bank accounts to Irish users

The digital challenger bank is increasing its offering to Irish customers as Ulster Bank and KBC Bank move to exit the market.

MONEY APP REVOLUT is set to begin offering traditional banking products including credit cards and personal loans to Irish customers this year after being granted a full European banking licence.

The fintech firm, which is currently regulated by the Lithuanian Central Bank, is planning to increase its offering to Irish customers as Ulster Bank and KBC Bank move to exit the market in the Republic of Ireland.

In a statement this morning, Revolut — which claims to have over 1.7 million Irish customers — said it has opened a waiting list for a personal loan product, marking its “first steps” towards launching a service called Revolut Bank.

Under the new service, personal loans will be available to both old and new Revolut customers, the company said.

Other lending products will be available later this year, according to a spokesperson.

Revolut’s Irish customers will also be able to sign up for bank accounts — guaranteed up to €100,000 — backed by the Lithuanian Deposit Guarantee Scheme. The fintech outfit previously operated in the Irish market under a UK e-money licence but began shifting its European customers to its Lithuanian operation in 2018 due to Brexit.

Since then, the company has been operating within the European Economic Area (EEA) under a specialised ‘challenger bank’ licence.

However, the European Central Bank decided to grant Revolut a full banking licence in December, allowing it to issue credit to customers in Ireland and across the EEA.

It was also granted an e-money licence by the Central Bank of Ireland before Christmas, which it applied for in 2019.

But Revolut has decided not to use the Irish licence, meaning that some jobs are likely to be lost at the bank’s Irish operation where it currently employs around 100 people.

In a statement, Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne said the decision effectively means the company is moving its operations to Lithuania altogether.

He criticised the length of time it took for the Irish regulator to approve Revolut’s e-money licence.

“Fintech companies have been expressing concern that the approach of the Central Bank has been such that it is more focused on ensuring the stability of the traditional pillar banks rather than encouraging new entrants into the market,” Senator Byrne said.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank of Ireland said the regulator notes Revolut’s plans to launch full banking services in Ireland, which are still “subject to regulatory approval” by the Lithuanian central bank.

The spokesperson said, “The Central Bank also notes the decision by the firm that it no longer plans to use an e-money licence, which it had sought from the Central Bank.”

“Such strategic decisions are matters for the boards of firms, in line with their own business objectives.

“The Central Bank operates a transparent and robust process for applicants seeking authorisation and has an active authorisation pipeline across all regulated sectors.”

The spokesperson added, “The Central Bank deals with applications for authorisation from firms across all financial sectors in an open, engaged and constructive manner.”

In a statement today, Revolut Europe Chief Executive Joe Heneghan said, “We are delighted to launch Revolut Bank in Ireland, offering Irish consumers more competition and innovation.  

“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.”  

“Customers can now register their interest in a Revolut Personal loan, and we look forward to delivering more innovative products this year.”   

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