George Thomson is the head of the Italian division of Revolut, the famous prepaid debit card that last year has decided to target the crypto market, including the possibility to store and spend bitcoin, ethereum bitcoin cash, ripple and litecoin, the 5 most famous cryptocurrencies in the industry.
For this occasion, Cryptonomist interviewed him to better understand the functioning of Revolut and its market in Italy.
Hello George, thank you so much for this interview. As a product manager in the Italian market, can you tell us how the adoption of Revolut is going?
Hello, thanks to you for the interview. Looking at the numbers I can say that in Italy we have about 50,000 users and in Switzerland, the numbers are almost identical: around 50,000 registered accounts.
At the moment we are in transition with respect to the initial product that was supposed be a travel debit card. One of the first services was the currency exchange at the interbank rate, i.e. an official rate without commissions, a convenience for those who used more than one currency.
This is still the main objective at Revolut, but now our goal is even bigger: to create a money app that offers all the financial services that a person may need daily: trading, insurance, crypto, debit card, etc…
The user must have everything in one place and we are working on that. The main reason why people use Revolut is for travel, but since we introduced cryptocurrencies almost 1 year ago, it had been growing a lot and has doubled the number of users: we went from 1 to 2 million users in a few months because people were looking for an easy and fluid way to invest in cryptocurrencies.
What distinguishes Revolut from, for example, exchanges?
Revolut wanted to introduce cryptocurrencies in order to be an alternative to exchanges, which are certainly more complicated to use. On Coinbase, for example, you have to create an account and there is also a problem of trust because your cryptocurrencies are stored on third-party wallets. We were the first to offer a fluid exchange between crypto and fiat: you can trade your fiat currency for bitcoin in 1 click with some of the lowest fees on the market.
Aren’t you also a third party that users have to trust?
If you think of someone who already uses Revolut there’s just a small step to take: I already trust Revolut as a brand, I just have to trust cryptocurrencies.
Instead, Coinbase is unknown if you are new to the crypto market. What we did with Revolut is we tried to minimize the complications when entering the crypto world.
Moreover, if you don’t have any fiat on Revolut but you do have some cryptocurrencies, you can still go to the bar and pay with the Revolut card, your bitcoin will be converted at the current rate.
Why did you decide to allow this feature only if you are out of fiat?
You wouldn’t want to use bitcoin directly because you would have to pay more fees for the conversion, but you can do so if you don’t have fiat. The preferred option is the cheapest, so if you are in Italy and you have euro, we take euro and not cryptocurrencies.
Rumour has it that Revolut is moving to Lithuania. Are you going to apply for Lithuanian bank license?
I don’t think so. Our HBD is Lithuanian and there we have a lot of adoption compared to other countries. We are in Lithuania very often, and maybe the rumour has circulated due to that, but I don’t think we will move. London is very friendly as far as fintech companies are concerned.