FinTech: Cash-rich Revolut on the Prowl for COVID-hit Travel Aggregators

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A fortuitously-timed $500 million funding round on the eve of the pandemic has Storonsky in the driver’s seat.

Nikolay Storonsky, chief executive of British challenger bank and fintech unicorn Revolut, says his company has “a real opportunity” to benefit from the pandemic. Speaking to the Financial Times, he revealed plans to use his cash hoard to buy corona-strapped, tech rivals. (FT)

“This is not just blue-sky thinking — we’ve just done a fundraising, we’re cash-rich,” Storonsky stressed.

Down-and-out travel aggregators the likely targets

Revolut will look for deals in the travel sector, picking up companies rendered vulnerable by the restrictions imposed on travel. Travel aggregators are a favored target because their customers could then pay for purchases using the Revolut banking app. These products include airline tickets and rental cars.

“A lot of travel aggregators are in trouble at the moment — we could probably purchase one and sell flight tickets at cost and be 10 to 15% cheaper than everyone else,” he told FT.

But, should Storonsky take a leaf out of Buffett’s book?

Warren Buffett announced over the last weekend that Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) had ditched all its holdings in the four major U.S. airlines. “The world has changed,” he said and added that he wanted no part of any company “that is going to chew up money in the future.”

Could Revolut be biting off more than it could chew by making a splash in the beleaguered travel space?

Revolut has already announced plans to expand across the Atlantic and its Lithuanian banking license has come through. Moreover, the Revolut app has added stock trading, current accounts, forex, even cryptocurrencies.

Note that British state-backed bank RBS (NYSE: RBS) has decided to wind down Bo, its standalone digital bank, as circumstances changed following the economic toll from the virus outbreak.

In February, digital bank N26, in a shock announcement, said it would leave the UK and close all accounts by April 15. Though it attributed the reason to Brexit, analysts attributed the real reason for the bank’s departure from the UK to intense competition from rival banks such as Revolut and Monzo.

Meanwhile, Revolut is still in the red. Further, the pandemic did not leave the digital bank unscathed – it suffered from reduced card spending during the crisis.

However, Storonsky made light of the matter. He said Revolut was better off than other players.

Related Story: FinTech: Revolut Expands Across the Atlantic; Dismisses Corona Concerns

Image of Nikolay Storonsky: Flickr                                                  

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