Here at Revolut, we don’t believe in big marketing budgets for acquiring new users. Instead, we focus our time and resources on building a kick-ass app that has virality written all over it. Essentially, our users are our marketing budget.
Three months ago, due to our own frustrations with traditional banks’ legacy systems and applied fees, we launched business accounts. The goal was a simple one — bring business accounts into the 21st century.
Three months later and we’ve signed up more than 16,000 businesses with zero spend on marketing. In this blog post, we are going to explain how we have achieved such incredible growth in such a short space of time — and it’s probably not how you think.
Understanding current frustrations
In traditional startup style, we grabbed our laptops, popped the kettle on and immediately started brainstorming ideas. Whilst we identified key pain points from our own experience of business banking, we knew that the most valuable information would come from small businesses themselves.
Without wasting any time, we organised a number of focus groups with small and medium businesses from across the UK and Europe. From this, we listened to the good, bad and the ugly and have been using this data as the most important metric in determining where our centre of attention should be.
From these focus groups, we saw a pattern of five key areas of business banking that were giving small and medium business owners the biggest headache.
Building a platform fit for the digital age
From the intel that we gathered, we saw that slow and clunky banking platforms were the main cause for concern.
We knew at this point that building a platform from the ground up with design, functionality and speed at its core was going to be a crucial selling-point for businesses. Having already built a consumer app with these factors in mind, we were in a good starting position.
A few months later and we had built a platform that was visually attractive, incredibly fast and extremely user-friendly. Throughout every stage of the building process, we had a dedicated group of BETA testers who were able to help us identify any bugs or issues before rolling it out to the masses.
While testing the service, the BETA users helped us identify yet another drawback of the traditional banking platform, which had to do with the inability to automate payments or connect the banking portal to third party tools such as accounting software.
Despite having already built the platform, we decided to tackle the issue anyway. Our solution was to create a powerful Open API that allows you integrate your own systems and operations into your Revolut Business account. This also allows for the triggering of automatic payments based on predefined events. In testing this product, we were helped by some of the most exciting tech startups in London (which we cannot name, for obvious reasons).
Reducing the costs of employee expenses
Another headache that kept cropping up was the amount of time and effort it took finance teams to process employee expenses. Employees were often forced to use their personal bank cards for business trips, collect endless paper receipts and give accountants an incredibly time-consuming, manual task to deal with.
If you’ve ever had corporate cards issued by your business bank, then you will have dealt with the frustrations of setting up and managing these cards — a process which is both expensive and incredibly time-consuming.
In most cases, banks will charge an annual fee for each corporate card your company issues and more often than not, monitoring spending activity on these cards is largely inefficient and is still achieved via paper-based monthly statements — yet another archaic processes in the digital age.
At Revolut, we saw a way to simplify this process for both accountants, business owners and employees. We launched Revolut corporate cards with no on-going fees that can be directly issued and managed from the platform. Employees can then spend with ease while using the real exchange rate, saving businesses a fortune in foreign exchange fees.
Streamlining international payments
Sending and receiving international payments is routine for many businesses, so you can imagine their frustration when we highlighted how much they were paying in transfer fees.
There was no lightbulb moment — we knew exactly what to do. As we have done on our retail accounts, we decided to slash the extortionate fees and give businesses access to the interbank exchange rate for payments.
By giving a business access to the interbank rate, this would significantly reduce their foreign exchange fees. What’s more; we made sure that if two businesses both using Revolut were sending payments to one another, there would be no fees and transfers would be instant. Naturally, this encouraged our existing users to spread the word and recommend our business accounts.
Using multi-currency accounts
If your business is operating globally and you’re constantly transferring money in different currencies, then a multi-currency account is a must. Having access to a multi-currency account can help businesses pay suppliers abroad, accept international payments in the originating currency, all while minimising their foreign exchange risk.
In practice, however, multi-currency accounts usually come at a significant premium and do not offer the flexibility required by a modern-day business. Revolut Business allows you to open a unique business account in the UK and Europe, with the option of adding up to 25 individual currencies, all of which can be easily managed from a clean and user-friendly interface.
Eliminating hidden fees
Hidden fees are a common occurrence amongst banks, and business accounts make no exception. Poised with marked-up exchange rates, transfer fees, handling fees, maintenance fees and more, it’s easy to see why over 4,000 companies signed up to Revolut Business in the first month alone.
Our mission has always been about democratising banking and promoting a transparent service, designed for a global lifestyle. Revolut Business is priced very simply, with no hidden charges. It eliminates the concealed fees associated with international money transfers, exchange rates and those incurred as a result of using corporate cards.
So, what have we learned?
If you solve an everyday problem for a group of people, they will not hesitate to recommend your product or service to their networks.
Instead of spending thousands of pounds on marketing initiatives, we went directly to businesses of all shapes and sizes so that we could build a product with them in mind. If we could solve their issues, while also saving them time and money, signing them up to our platform would be simple.
More importantly, such an open and transparent approach to product development would also let our customers know that they play a vital role in helping us build this company.
Planning for the future
We are at the very start of a journey. Our rapid growth has been exhilarating but has not been without its challenges, so we are constantly engaging with our business community to improve and upgrade our service.
To help point us in the right direction moving forward, we’ve launched Integrations on the business platform, where users can make suggestions as to what features or products they would like to see next.
Below are a few features that are coming soon:
1. Open API for third-party integrations
2. Launching a mobile-based platform for business accounts
3. Merchant accounts (pay with Revolut)