Will Revolut get a UK banking license?

Written by Kapronasia || October 24 2023

What about that UK banking license? That’s the question on Revolut’s mind and many others as the UK’s preeminent fintech unicorn nears the end of another calendar year without the ability to offer government-insured deposits, business loans, consumer loans and so on in its home market. It is sometimes overlooked that for all of Revolut’s swagger on the international stage, the UK remains its largest market, and that regulators in other jurisdictions from Australia to India to the U.S. are watching and waiting to see if the UK grants Revolut the license or not.

Revolut had good news in March when it announced a profit of US$72.5 million in 2021, a first for the company, and revenue of US$767 million. It was a big improvement over 2020 when Revolut lost US$251.4 million.

That was the good news. The bad news was that Revolut was late producing its accounts to the U.K. company register, Companies House, in time for a December 31 deadline. They were finally signed off by BDO, Revolut’s auditors, in February. The company’s auditor also could not fully verify ¾ of the company’s revenue due to a problem with its IT system.

Producing its accounts late once is understandable, but a second time? That appears to be the situation now. Revolut has not said publicly why there is another delay, but Wired reported in September that the tardiness of its previous set of accounts is impeding the company’s ability to get the audit process for this year done on time.

Ultimately, whether Revolut gets the UK banking license or not will probably come down to things like stress testing, capital adequacy and adherence to anti-money laundering rules, but the fintech unicorn’s string of slip-ups, which also includes the loss of US$20 million through a payment loophole that was first reported in June, will not help its case with the UK Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

Meanwhile, Revolut’s key expansion plans in Asia Pacific will be conducted in a piecemeal manner. Case in point: In late August, Banking Day reported that Revolut is preparing to launch a standalone lending arm in Australia focusing on customers who already have a payments account with the company. New customers will be eligible to apply for unsecured credit but will be required to wait 30 days after opening a Revolut account for their loan applications to be assessed.

However, Revolut won’t be able to take customer deposits in Australia unless it is granted an Authorized Deposit Taking Institution (ADI) license, which we doubt will happen unless it gets its banking license in the UK first.