Revolut, the mobile banking startup, announced Tuesday at TechCrunch’s Disrupt Berlin event that it is combining its traditional banking business with cryptocurrency to enable customers to sell, trade and hold digital currencies including bitcoin, Litecoin and Ether, as well as 25 world fiat currencies.
During the event, Revolut's CEO, Nikolay Storonsky, said cryptocurrency trading will open to all Revolut users later this week. The report noted that if a customer runs out of fiat currency, it will automatically convert to a sufficient amount of cryptocurrency to fund the purchase or transaction.
“Despite being one of the hottest trends in the world right now, getting exposure to cryptocurrency has notoriously been time-consuming and expensive,” Storonsky said.
Revolut’s move comes as cryptocurrency is growing in popularity as it gains legitimacy as a form of currency. CME Group, the country’s largest futures exchange, is gearing up to launch bitcoin futures this month, and Cboe is launching its own trading product next year.
Bitcoin started the year at around $1,000 and recently surpassed $11,000. Many regulators have been warning about the risks associated with cryptocurrency, as it is largely unregulated.
When the service opens up later this week, Revolut said it will offer what it is calling the most competitive rates on transactions, charging only a flat upfront fee of 1.5 percent. There won’t be any additional fees, which in some cases can add 5 to 9 percent on other platforms, reported TechCrunch.
In November, Revolut announced it has applied for a European banking license, making it the latest of several digital-only firms looking to compete more actively with larger, traditional lenders.
Revolut has been making its prepaid card offering for the last two years, and is now betting on a future in which regulatory changes will make it easier for small upstarts to actively compete with more established players. Its playbook resembles that of its fellows in FinTech disruption: customer-friendly apps, lower fees and an instant overview of their finances.