The European “financial super app” Revolut wants to upend banking in New Zealand by offering free deposit accounts and cheaper money transfers and foreign exchange.
“We think the incumbent banks have had it too easy for too long,” Revolut Australia New Zealand chief executive Matt Baxby told Markets with Madison.
He was in Auckland last week meeting with media and regulators ahead of its local launch today - possibly the worst kept secret after teasing the launch a year ago and adding 26,000 New Zealanders to its wait list over that period.
Finally announcing the details of its offering here, Baxby said Revolut’s standard plan would be free for all New Zealand users from today, attracting no monthly account fees and a $350 withdrawal limit.
It allowed customers to hold their funds in one of five currencies, NZD, AUD, GBP, EUR and USD, and download a digital payment card to use in 200 countries.
Users could spread their money between spending and savings accounts, and use an immediate bill splitting feature with other Revolut users.
The app, founded in London in 2015, charged 0 per cent commission on foreign exchange, however cross-currency transfers to other banks did attract a brokerage fee.
Its other features offered internationally were not available here, including stock and crypto trading.
A Revolut spokeswoman said it planned to launch its premium paid subscription services before the end of the year, with pricing likely to mirror Australia where the high-end ‘Metal’ option cost A$24.99 a month, offering cashback, discounted fees and a larger A$1400 monthly withdrawal limit.
Unlike a traditional bank, it did not loan money, nor sell interest earning products like term deposits.
Revolut is available in 40 countries and processes more than 400 million transactions a month for its 30 million global users.
Baxby said it was not classified a bank therefore was not regulated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and not required to hold capital as a buffer to backstop New Zealander’s deposits.
But, users funds were held in full with ANZ’s institutional bank, he said.
“People’s money will be safe because it’s held on a one for one basis.”
It was registered as a financial services provider and the dispute resolution scheme Financial Services Complaints Ltd.
Watch Baxby explain its aim in the New Zealand market and how its business model works in today’s episode of Markets with Madison above.
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Madison Reidy is the host of New Zealand’s only financial markets show Markets with Madison. She joined the Herald in 2022 after working in investment, and has covered business and economics for television and radio broadcasters.