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A conversation with Andrius Bičeika: Croatian Revolut customers are the first to collect points for their everyday spending and turn them into airline miles, hotels and homes in dream destinations

What led to Revolut's customer base expanding by 43 percent last year, what will the robo-advisors do for their users, and what changed with the apps latest redesign, read more in our conversation below.

A conversation with Andrius Bičeika: Croatian Revolut customers are the first to collect points for their everyday spending and turn them into airline miles, hotels and homes in dream destinations

The adoption of novel FinTech services is growing by the minute, in Croatia and the wider region. User willingness to try new innovative ways to manage their money is highlighted in the number of users of Revolut that has increased by more than 10 percent just in the past six months since Money Motion 2023. This was the first time Andrius Bičeika, Partner at Revolut, visited Zagreb and revealed Croatia was among the top 20 markets of the leading neobank in the world. In this conversation, we touched upon more recent data, including the fact that just in the CEE region, Revolut has more than 10 million users, hoping to get to a number of 400 thousand in Croatia by Money Motion 2024. The greatest news we discussed is the new feature for Revolut users – the RevPoint program which has just been launched and Croatia, together with Greece and Malta, is the first market to receive it. This program will surely motivate users to engage in money-savy challenges and change their financial behavior for the better, as for each achieved goal they will receive valuable points to exchange for lifestyle benefits with Revolut’s partners.

What led to Revolut’s customer base expanding by 43 percent last year, what will the robo-advisors do for their users, and what changed with the apps latest redesign, read more in our conversation below.

1. Money Motion in March 2023 was the first time for you to visit Croatia and during the conference you revealed there were more than 330 thousand users of Revolut in Croatia, making it one of the top 20 markets for the company. Has your presence at Money Motion, or the presence in media following the conference, contributed to any changes – such as a rise of new users in Croatia or the neighbouring countries, or an introduction of a new group of users, or a new trend in the way the services are used?

We have just passed 370,000 customers in Croatia and Zagreb got to the top 10 cities by retail customer base in the CEE region this year and I am sure Money Motion helped us to get there. We have recently surpassed 10 million retail customers in the CEE region with a growing importance of Croatia as a market as well.

Croatians made over 12 million card payments through Revolut this year, 57% more than in the same period last year. Of these, two-thirds were made locally, suggesting that Revolut is increasingly being used as a daily bank account. 

We are on track to serve 400k customers in Croatia by the Money Motion in March next year. 

2. In earlier interviews, you revealed that it is mostly men and urban population, and finally business professionals that use Revolut. Is this in line with your other markets? Is there anything you could point out as a specific trait of our market, or have you observed a difference between some CEE markets in general comparing them to others?

We see similar trends not only in the CEE region but in the whole Europe, with more and more people choosing Revolut as their primary bank account for daily spending, not just when travelling.

The increasing popularity of digital banking in the region can be explained by the results of a recent representative study conducted by Dynata on our behalf. Almost half of the respondents prefer digital banks: 34% of them for its flexibility and 12% for a better control over their money. One third of respondents said they would prefer both: a bank that offers branches and a second bank account via smartphone. Only 12% still prefer a brick-and-mortar bank mainly due to the need for direct interaction.

3. You also mentioned earlier that Croats use Revolut to invest their assets, partly in the US stock market and partly in cryptocurrencies. Could you reveal if there has been a change of heart in these investments during this year possibly due to FTX and inflation; and how many users are we talking about here – is it a majority of users or a specific group?

We have many exciting news in this space as our customers in Europe, including Croatia, now have even more assets to choose from when investing. Earlier this year we added ETF’s, EU listed stocks to our investment platform and launched flexible accounts for smart saving. And we are not stopping there with Robo advisor for automated investing and bonds next on our list. 

4. Revolut has multiple membership plans with different benefits. Could you tell us which plans are mostly used in Croatia or in general?

Premium is our most popular plan taking up half of all paid plans customers in Croatia, followed by Metal. We have recently revamped our paid plans and added a variety of subscriptions from Financial Times, NordVPN, to Tinder and others giving customers up to 1,700 EUR additional value per year.

5. On the MoMo stage, while talking to Ivan Burazin, you said ‘customer is king’ and how that is a core leading thought of your business. Which features or changes during this year would you highlight as Revolut’s way of acting on that thought?

This year we had multiple examples of keeping customers at the centre of everything we do. We launched Flexible accounts in Croatia and some other European markets – a smart way for customers to earn interest on their savings with the possibility to withdraw their money instantly. We kept democratising the access to financial instruments that for years were either granted to traditional banks and professional traders or difficult to access to the wider retail public.

We also completely revamped revolut app and launched Rev10 – apps biggest redesign yet, built to make everyday money management for customers as easy as possible, with special attention for those who use Revolut as a primary bank account.

And right now we are piloting our first pan-European loyalty program RevPoints in Croatia and Greece, so our Croatian customers are the first to collect points for their everyday spending, turning card payments into exciting benefits – airline miles, or hotels and homes in dream destinations. And I’m sure we are just starting here. 

6. Can you tell us more on the loyalty program and what it entails?

Revolut’s groundbreaking RevPoints program is reshaping the landscape of everyday spending, turning routine transactions into exciting ventures. Users can turbocharge their rewards through money-savvy challenges, from setting budgets to achieving savings goals.

The “Spare Change” feature in the Revolut app adds an extra layer of thrill by rounding up transactions to the nearest whole number, effortlessly converting spare change into RevPoints. RevPoints’ versatility shines as accumulated points can be exchanged for Avios or converted into Flying Blue Miles, offering an array of travel options with IAG airlines and their partners.

The adventure extends beyond travel, with users gaining access to nearly 2 million Stays in dream destinations via the Revolut app.

Soon, Revolut users can enhance their holiday experiences by using RevPoints for Revolut Experiences. With over 300,000 options, from admiring the Parisian skyline to relaxing in Budapest’s Széchenyi Thermal Baths, RevPoints transforms each transaction into a gateway to financial growth and unforgettable moments.

7. You mentioned then how your onboarding process takes 14 clicks in comparison to some other banking apps that take 81 clicks to board a new custom on. Has that number shrank since March? What is the main difference between you and them – what makes their process so significantly more complicated?

We always prioritise customer centric design and technology without compromising security or compliance and this commitment still sets us apart. We aim to make financial interactions as effortless as possible for our customers, and not only our streamlined onboarding process reflects that. 

Just another example on how we make things faster and more convenient is our partnership with one of Croatia’s largest telecom companies A1 offering fast, simple, and secure payment method Revolut Pay. Purchasing their prepaid vouchers through Revolut Pay can take less than 10 seconds, which is seven times faster than using traditional methods.

8. Last month you launched Revolut 10 which focuses far more on personal finances as a matter of lifestyle. The design is slick and easy to use. What was the strategic customer insight behind your redesign? What was it that your customers wanted and got with it?

We built Revolut 10 to help customers get a clear view of all of their accounts and money in one place and easily navigate through favourite features and products. It’s our biggest step forward to helping our customers make Revolut their primary bank account. We know every customer is unique and has individual needs, so we’re offering customisation options as well.

9. How do you provide lifestyle services? Have you literally built additional departments in Revolut to develop only these features or have you partnered up with other companies?

We do have a dedicated department for Lifestyle services, developed inhouse and cooperating with global well-known partners. Apart from recent paid plans update with popular subscriptions, in Croatia we also offer Stays, where customers can book almost 2 million holiday homes and hotels, or choose from over 300,000 experiences – tours, activities, and travel attractions –  all available in the Revolut app. 

10. Given the current economic climate and the financial insecurity felt far and beyond, people have already started to pay more attention not only to what they spend on and how, but the financial products they use. What do you think will be the competitive advantage of Revolut in the coming six to 12 months? What about it makes it characteristic in the tension between FinTechs and legacy institutions? 

Speed and responsiveness to changing customer needs will always be our main advantage. As the financial landscape continues to evolve, we aim to be at the forefront of it while building a truly global bank. The more we scale, the more our costs come down and the more value we can make for our customers.

11. You have also started some new collaborations on our market, and have attended numerous other events over the year. What is your next step on the Croatian market, and what is your plan for this region in general?

We continue to strengthen our position as a leading digital bank in the region and a fast growing pan-european player in the industry. We are pleased to see the impact our digital banking offer has on the financial ecosystem in this region as our customer base in the CEE expanded by 43% last year alone. We are looking forward to bringing our product to many more customers in the weeks and months ahead and to expand our banking presence in Croatia and the whole region.

12. One of the main predictions in the industry for 2024 is the wider adoption of AI technologies. Do you see this prediction as a result of realistic expectations or a result of a hype around AI in 2023?

There is definitely some level of hype surrounding AI, especially given the enthusiasm the technology attracts. Business must now enter the phase of practical application of AI. For example we are soon launching a robo-adviser product for European customers to automate their investment portfolios. Revolut’s Robo-advisor will allow users to invest in chosen portfolios based on their risk tolerance, and rebalance automatically as the market moves.

We haven’t fully integrated AI into the product just yet but our aim is to make it fully AI-driven. 

13. You have been part of Revolut since its early days. The 21st employee, if I remember correctly. What has been the greatest challenge for you personally during that ‘hypergrowth’? Is there anything today you would have done differently?

I would have moved even faster.

In her keynote, Anna will delve into the forefront of payment technologies. She will guide you through emerging technologies, including recent developments in AI and explain how they can be effectively integrated into payment solutions and platforms.

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The discussion will focus on the impending digital and cashless transformation of the payments industry, driven by market participants including merchants, customers, banks/financial institutions, and payment networks. Key areas of exploration will include advancements in instant payments, the influence of the European Payment Initiative, and the future landscape of payment facilitation and acceptance.

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At Mastercard, we strive to connect and power an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere. For almost 60 years, leveraging our global innovations capability, we work to digitize payment services across all channels and devices. Delivering payment value where speed, security and convenience matter most, and digital solutions solving consumers’, small and large businesses’ needs. Building trust in a digital world and embedding our social impact initiatives and ESG commitments into our core. Connecting everyone to priceless possibilities.

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The panel will cover the financial landscape's evolution from open banking to open finance. It addresses the development, challenges, and forward trajectory of alternative business models. The session will dive into impactful use cases while examining the implications of the latest EU regulations, lessons learned from existing regulations and anticipates changes with PSD3.

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In an increasingly digitised world, an elevated level of sophistication and personalization is expected from the banks when approaching the customers. To meet such expectations, not only a thorough knowledge and understanding of the customers' needs, but also an attentive customer-centric relation is needed. The banks should be able to know when, how and what to offer to their customer, taking into account their financial profile, as well as contemplating a well-thought engagement and communication strategy.

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The panel will delve into the intricacies of the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), the pioneering European framework that came into effect on January 16, 2023. By 17 January 2025, over 22,000 financial entities and ICT Service providers across the EU are expected to achieve compliance with this regulation. This, among other important activities, implies that millions of contracts within the EU will require renegotiation, placing a critical emphasis on fulfilling value chain requirements.

The panelists will try to unravel the essence of DORA by addressing key questions: What are the key requirements of DORA? How can financial institutions navigate their most pressing challenges, and why must organizations of varying sizes adopt distinct strategies? Is the talent pool of IT Risk managers adequate, and how will cyber teams be impacted? And most importantly, can we make it on time or are we already behind schedule in our preparations?

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Experience the Battle of the Decade firsthand! 

Hrvoje Cosic, the CEO of Aircash, is set to go head-to-head with the heavyweight champion Andrius Biceika, a distinguished board member at Revolut. This epic showdown will delve into numerous sensitive and even a few embarrassing topics :) such as the role of neobanks in Croatia and the broader region. Join us as we explore their respective exit strategies, identify fintech champions and contenders, and uncover their perspectives on various subjects like gambling, digital euro, and Apple Pay.

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The panel discussion explores Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), covering its definition, motives, and future implications such as its coexistence with current and future versions of digital money (deposit money, stablecoins etc). It addresses implementation challenges, competitive ecosystem building, CBDC as a public good, anonymity concerns, public authorities' roles, and the European Commission's digital euro proposal.

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(coming soon)

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We will discuss the evolving landscape of financial technology, highlighting both challenges and opportunities for the next decade. Sigal, with his extensive background in FinTech and venture capital, will share insights on recent trends such as the impact of rising interest rates on funding, the stabilization of FinTech exits, and the promising outlook for FinTech IPOs. The presentation will also look into emerging disruptive technologies and the importance of understanding investor motivations for startups navigating the FinTech space.

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The panel will explore critical issues such as regulatory hurdles, market fragmentation, and funding challenges. It will look into the need for collaborative efforts between startups, investors, and other ecosystem stakeholders to foster a conducive environment as well as supportive policies to nurture the FinTech ecosystem.

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(coming soon)

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