UK digital bank Revolut expands to Japan

Last modified September 8, 2020. Published September 8, 2020.

Digital bank , which describes itself as “the world’s first truly global financial superapp,” took a step toward becoming truly global this week with the launch of a banking app in Japan.

The U.K-based fintech unveiled the launch on Twitter and other social media platforms, asking followers to help spread the word. The company pledged to give Japanese consumers a better deal on international foreign exchange.

“When spending or transferring money overseas, most people are unaware of the hidden fees that banks are charging them,” Nik Storonsky, the company’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “According to a report from the World Bank, international remittance fees in Japan are two times higher than in the U.S. The world is becoming more connected, and financial services should be supporting this, not hindering it.”

The company said that with the app, customers in Japan can spend and transfer money globally at the real exchange rate and exchange 23 currencies, including yen, dollars, pounds and euros. Customers in Japan can also receive instant spending notifications, set up monthly budgets, send and receive instant payments and split bills with the app.

Money can be sent to the U.S., Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom. Customers in Japan will also receive a debit card that they can freeze and unfreeze from within the app, and also disable certain features on the card, such as contactless, swipe and e-commerce payments.

The company, which debuted in 2015, says it has 13 million customers worldwide. It recently expanded the reach of its cryptocurrency services to Australia. It offers all-digital banking accounts as well as cross-border payments to more than 30 countries in at least 28 currencies. 

Revolut is the U.K.’s most valuable fintech startup, after a funding round in February that valued it at GBP 4.2 billion ($5.6 billion).

In September 2019, the company said it would more than triple its staff to 5,000 as part of a deal with Visa. But in June, Wired reported that more than 50 employees said they were pressured to quit their jobs or be fired as part of a cost-saving measure as business slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many other employees were asked to volunteer for a pay cut in exchange for company shares.

--Additional reporting by Zack Fishman