“There is nothing new under the sun.”
Human beings have been saying the above, or some variation on it, for approximately three thousand years since it was first written down in the Book of Ecclesiastes in 935 BCE. It is safe to say that the majority of times it has been uttered, the person doing so was underselling the future a bit. We imagine if presented with an iPhone, penicillin, an automobile or just a ballpoint pen, even the original scribe would have been forced to concede that exciting innovations might be coming up on humanity’s horizon in the intervening 30 centuries.
However, given the duration of time the concept has stuck around, it is safe to say there is a grain of truth in there. No matter how advanced we get, no matter how innovative technological advances we add on, there is always a little bit of history repeating in there. Something particularly notable in the emergence of FinTech platforms all over the world, Matt Dill, Visa’s Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and Venture told Karen Webster when they discussed the worldwide launch of Visa Partner.
Once upon a time in the 1960s, banks were building a series of one-off card-based solutions, much the way today in the ending days of the 2010s we see global digital banking, mobile wallets and alternative underwriting schemes building one-off tech-based solutions for financial services products. Digital banks, alt credit providers and digital wallet providers may not be thinking about cards as of late 2019, but they are thinking about how to scale their solutions beyond their domestic markets — how to make them interoperable on a global stage.
So today (Sept. 30), the card network announced just such a FinTech partnership. Visa said it is expanding its partnership with London-based FinTech Revolut to include five new regions reaching 24 markets — bringing Revolut’s total global footprint to 56 markets.
“Visa is taking an active role in working with FinTechs and emerging players who are entering the payments ecosystem at a rapid pace,” Visa Chief Product Officer Jack Forestell told PYMNTS of the news.
Forestell explained that Visa’s extensive global presence would help Revolut expand not just their footprint, but accelerate their understanding of local markets by providing research and knowledge to inform Revolut’s distribution and consumer approach. That, he said, helps Revolut to do that they would otherwise be unable to — quickly move into new markets with minimal barriers to entry and without having to undertake the tedium of navigating numerous individual integrations in new markets.
Expanding the Range of Fintech Opportunities
Revolut offers consumers a range of digital financial services via a mobile application — digital debit accounts, currency exchange, budgeting and person-to-person (P2P) payments. It is what is more commonly known as a challenger bank. Revolut began its early collaborations with Visa four years ago, and since July 2017 has issued Visa cards to its customers across Europe. What first attracted Visa to Revolut, Forestell told PYMNTS — was both its rapid innovative pace and its early focus on building a global scale through expansion. For Visa, be noted, the critical question is how to be part of encouraging and speeding that expansion.
What that means in practical terms for this now expanded partnership is that Revolut will now be able to launch in the U.S, Canada, Singapore, Australia and Japan. In addition, if the firm so chooses, the partnership will enable it to later launch in additional markets, including Brazil, New Zealand, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam.
As part of the newly expanded partnership, Revolut will primarily issue Visa-branded cards in the global expansion.
“As Revolut and other FinTechs emerge and expand scale, Visa works with them to further enhance their network,” Forestell noted, “at scale and with speed.”
It’s all part of the move by Visa, he said, to help domestic FinTechs become interoperable players across the globe.
“Not only will consumers benefit from the trust, security and globality of the Visa brand and technology, Revolut has folded additional Visa capabilities onto its platform including Visa Token Service,” Forestell told PYMNTS.
The Changing Global Playing Field
Today, Revolut, and FinTechs much like it all over the world looking to disrupt the traditional financial services industry, still represents a small sliver of the market when compared to their counterparts in legacy financial services. However, though their volume is low today, Forestell noted, Visa has long been interested in working with challengers for a long time now — because their potential is massive when it comes to providing a better merchant and customer proposition.
Visa, he notes, is committed to playing a central role in that process because supporting FinTechs, plays critically into Visa’s broader vision: A trusted global and open payments network that can move money safely and quickly all around the world. Also, a worldwide network, Forestell said, that can use the power of Visa’s “unmatched analytics capabilities” to help both FinTech’s and banks develop personalized products and services that benefit customers and providers alike.
“We are using the power of our global brand and our 60 years of consumer trust to make open banking a reality,” he noted.