Will Revolut’s travel app give it an edge in Asia?

Written by Kapronasia || August 12 2021

Revolut is the biggest neobank most of Asia has never heard of. Try as it might, Revolut just has not been able to make much of an impact in any APAC market yet, which is not a huge surprise given the amount of competition it faces and its distant home base in the UK. Revolut needs something to make it stand out from the crowd in APAC. Its new travel app Stays might be just what the doctor ordered.

In late July, Revolut rolled out its Stays travel booking app for customers in the UK, Europe and the U.S. The app marries online travel and fintech, letting travelers book accommodation ranging from B&Bs to luxury lodges, while offering payment end solutions and no-fee currency exchange rates. Revolut plans to allocate £70 million in cashback to customers using the new service. Each customer will be incentivized to use Stays with up to 10% cashback on accommodation bookings via the app. 

The foray into travel booking is significant because Revolut for the first time is making good on its promise to create a super app by diversifying into something non-financial that might create some genuine stickiness. It is the first neobank to offer such a service (although Traveloka and AirAsia are expanding from travel into financial services). 

Remember that Revolut’s roots are in a multi-currency card favored by frequent fliers. The Stays app look like it is designed to build on that original value proposition, more so than services like crypto and stock trading, which seem to have been opportunistically added. 

Marsel Nikaj, head of savings and lifestyle at Revolut, said in a statement: “After 18 months of endless restrictions and lockdowns, we want to give people more and make their money travel further. Revolut is becoming the go-to app for travel, giving you more.”

In developed APAC markets where Revolut is present, including Singapore, Japan and Australia, offering the Stays app could be a way for the company to distinguish itself from other financial services and providers and attract more customers. The only real competitors for this type of hybrid service in the region right now, AirAsia and Traveloka, are focused on other countries, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

For now, Stays is only available in the UK (the Europe and US launches will follow in the coming months) and the severity of the current Covid wave in Asia has halted most regional travel, but in the longer term, the app could have plenty of takers in the region. In Asia, borders that closed in March 2020 have yet to reopen – unlike Europe – and there is already a huge amount of pent-up demand for travel. 

Revolut could take advantage of that – if it does not get distracted expanding into half a dozen new Asian markets.