Revolut: We spent 0 on Marketing to reach 1,5 million users

“Banking is not sexy, nobody wants to talk about it – let’s make banking great again”. This is part of the vision of money app Revolut from the UK. The start-up is one of the fastest growing FinTechs in Europe. Benjamin Belais, head of France and Switzerland at Revolut, shared some of the success recipes during the meetup at The Family in Paris on 14th March 2018. Revolut is a mobile app for money management allowing to send, receive and spend money – in your daily life or while traveling in foreign currency countries.

Benjamin’s hook was that Revolut got to 1,5 million users with zero money spent on marketing. He says it would be David versus Goliath, in this game you can’t win against banks, they just have more money. Instead, Revolut chose to turn users into fans and make them their advocates.

How do you get 1,5 m customers in two and a half years? More to it, 340.000 are DAU (daily active users) and 800.000 MAU (monthly). I have been following mobile payment and neobanks for some time and this is good market traction.

How to get market traction? Be excellent on very limited features.

In his presentation at The Family, Benjamin shared with us some of the drivers of their growth.

1st: Focus on product. Revolut decided to focus on its product and not on marketing. Initially the founder identified a clear problem (pain point) for a clearly defined target group of users: foreign exchange rates that are a real pain for (frequent) travellers and expats. This first factor of differentiation was the starting point.

First learning here: if your value proposition fits a problem with a large enough group of people, even if it is a niche, this allows for take-off.

2nd: Daily interaction. The next angle of attack identified opportunities around the use of money in daily life: how to send money easily to a friend, split a bill for any payment, get real-time information about spending? Revolut lets you send and receive money fully digital via the app or spend it via a physical payment card. By the way, the card looks really nice and comes in a very cool packaging, Benjamin says. A proof of it can be seen here on Twitter in an unpackaging video by @JeromeBailly. Here we are back with the vision “to make banking great again” – users talk about their experience with the product, share it, make it viral.

3rd: Fast onboarding. The team at Revolut not only wanted a cool card but also focused on fast sign-on with a minimum need of information. Like this, users can try the product without too much engagement. Benjamin says, it’s ready to go and operable for payment within 60 seconds. I wasn’t sure if I should believe this and therefore I tried it. Conclusion: pretty smooth flow, I like it! And I have tried some other apps before 😉

4th: Full control & flexibility. Customers can decide themselves what level of security they prefer. For example, the user can turn off NFC functionality of the card (before going to the pub, getting drunk and losing control over the card usage  ;-)) or the user may turn off online payments, etc. And also turn it on again any time.

5th: Uniqueness. Another feature in the app is around crypto currencies. Users can buy and sell them with a simple click. This allows Revolut to get attention on topics where banks are not present with an offer. And to do “news jacking”, meaning to push news to the press to attract more attention with potential users and gain social media posts.

How to keep focus on the right things? Be user centric and agile.

Benjamin said: “Daily usage is our key KPI”. Not the number of downloads or any other KPI. Clear focus on the DAU in order to measure real and lasting engagement with the product. How to get this? What do users like to keep up daily usage? For Revolut instant notifications are a driver. For example, if a user pays with the card in a shop, the app will show an instant notification within seconds to confirm the payment. This information may seem annoying at first thought. But it turns out that users like this kind of reassurance when their money is going away. Another feature to drive daily usage is the spending analytics. In the app, users may look at their spending by category and correct it if the category on file is not right once again 😉

Now the question is: how to find these features that drive daily engagement? How to figure out what turns users into FANS? If they are fans they will act as salesman/woman of the solution. Revolut invests a lot into user feedback in various ways:

  • Keep in touch with users: listen to customers on Twitter, Facebook, etc., feed them news via social media
  • “Rev Rally” to engage users to become fans: Rev Rallies are events where very active users are invited for dinner or drinks. They follow a presentation and give feedback on existing and new features. Engaged users like this sneak previews knowing what’s coming next. This format gives very strong feedback on user thinking. In France for example, Revolut organized 12 Rev Rallies within 3 months.
  • User Trello Boards: selected users can give feedback via Trello boards, can share what they like, don’t like, think, want, … this dialog leads to engagement and turns fans into advocates for Revolut.
  • Reward Users via Investment: to give something back to the fans (long term engaged users) Revolut lets them invest in their company. With each funding round these engaged users can participate via a crowd funding.

What is the market response? Traction.

Revolut is not the first and not the only player on the market who wants to disrupt money management or consumer payments. However, after having followed the market for a while I can say, Revolut is one of the rare players with good market traction. With 1,5 million users and 340 DAU it shows strong KPI. CB Insights just published a nice paper on Challenger Banks which shows customer figures and positions Revolut on top. 


To make Banking sexy and great again, Revolut aims to be excellent on limited features that are relevant to users. This involves making hard choices and to be an expert in the selected features. Being sexy also means being agile. Reactivity to issues that can be fixed within 24h is only one example. Revolut obviously has a good secret sauce for the moment. Let’s follow how this story continues.

One more thing

If you want to see Benjamin Belais talking about Revolut and how they reached break even you may watch this video on BFM TV (in French language).


Maike Strudthoff