Revolut, the U.K. FinTech that has been growing at a rapid pace, was forced to acknowledge it made up stats for a recent advertising campaign.
The Financial Times reported the Advertising Standards Authority sent several complaints to the Financial Conduct Authority about an ad campaign on the London Underground in which the company is accused of including claims about what access the payments FinTech has to the transaction data of its customers. At the heart of the problem is a claim by Revolut in the ads that 11,867 customers bought a vegan sausage roll during the month — and that on Valentine’s Day of 2018, thousands of customers ordered takeout for only themselves. However, Revolut didn’t really know that because — like the other banks and FinTechs in the U.K. — it only knows which merchant a consumer shopped at and how much he or she spent, not the specific product the customer purchased. Revolut would have no way of knowing if a person bought a vegan sausage roll, which is why the complaints rolled in.
The paper noted that when it challenged the claims in the ad, a Revolut spokesperson confirmed the numbers were “just made up,” acknowledging the company didn’t make it clear in the ad that the numbers were fictional. “It’s a fair point. We should have had a line in the ad saying this is a spoof,” the spokesperson said.
Among those who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority is Iona Bain, a personal finance blogger who took offense to what she saw as “single shaming” in the Valentine’s Day claims. She said in tweets covered by The Financial Times that she complained about the ads to the regulator. “I’m not surprised people have complained to the ASA, and I’m glad the FCA is investigating whether this advert misrepresented how people’s very personal data is used,” Bain, who runs the Young Money Blog told the paper. “Financial firms should be clear and honest about the services they provide, not spreading misinformation in the name of joke marketing. It harms trust in digital banking and gives FinTech services a bad name.”
To make amends Revolut is hosting a party at its office in London for as many as 200 customers on Valentine’s Day. On the menu: free vegan sausage rolls.