Mobile apps are blazing trails on the fintech frontier

“Fintech” is a buzzword on many lips these days, and one of the easiest ways to grasp the enormous potential of financial technology is by looking at how it’s showing up in mobile apps. Attendees at the Rakuten FinTech Conference 2016 in Tokyo heard from several innovators who are putting fintech solutions into people’s pockets around the world.

One example is Revolut, developed by a London-based startup of the same name. Revolut is a digital money app that allows users to send, spend and exchange money in multiple currencies across borders while benefiting from spot interbank foreign rates – the same rates that will show up on a Google search (the services are free for the first $7,000 or equivalent per calendar month).

Revolut CTO Vlad Yatsenko explains his company's innovative cross-border payment app at Rakuten Fintech Conference 2016.
Revolut CTO Vlad Yatsenko explains his company’s innovative cross-border payment app at Rakuten Fintech Conference 2016.

So, for instance, a user could charge his or her Revolut account with cash, and then fly to another country for a vacation and use the app or its associated debit card to automatically pay for goods and services in the local currency without having to change any money.

The concept of cutting out the middleman has proven very popular with jet-setters. Launched in 2015, Revolut already has some 350,000 users and processes 60,000 transactions daily and about $240 million per month.

“One of the major factors that helped us grow so fast was the decision to build a mobile-first service, since we do most things on our mobile phones these days,” Vlad Yatsenko, CTO of Revolut, told the conference audience. “Our vision is to transform the way we transact around the world. We want to remove completely the notion of borderless payments so you don’t even have to think you’re transacting in a foreign country or currency.”

Another mobile app from London that was showcased at Rakuten FinTech Conference 2016 is Yoyo Wallet, which offers mobile payments as well as features such as pre-ordering, by which users can skip lines at pubs and restaurants. It’s designed to replace both physical wallets and the loyalty cards that these days are taking up more and more room in them.

Alain Falys, cofounder and CEO of Yoyo Wallet, describes the services features at Rakuten Fintech Conference 2016.
Alain Falys, co-founder and CEO of Yoyo Wallet, describes the service’s features.

Meanwhile, Yoyo is also a marketing platform for retailers with various tools for engaging consumers. It has automated loyalty programs that instantly deliver rewards to users based on how much they buy.

“We have a technology that sits at the intersection of retail, brands and the consumer world,” said Alain Falys, co-founder and CEO of Yoyo Wallet. “We are able to extract very rich data from each transaction, which enables us to know what people buy and who they are, giving us insight into consumption patterns. This is a complete novelty in the world of retail.”

Speaking at a panel on innovations in fintech that included leaders from ComparaGuru, Everledger and Marstone, Falys noted that the one thing fintech solutions have in common is that they create a new layer of trust and value between customers, retailers and other traditional players such as banking systems.

Yoyo Wallet first gained traction among universities in the UK. The company has recently focused on high street retail while expanding overseas.

“We launched two and a half years ago, and today in the UK market we are the fastest-growing and the largest mobile wallet used over the counter in retail,” Falys added. “We can really disrupt the status quo here by moving super fast. The challenge is to scale fast enough to grow market share and become the de facto winner.”

Read more posts from the Rakuten FinTech Conference 2016 here.

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