The world may be grounding to a halt, but it’s business as normal at Revolut, which today launched its “junior” banking offering for under 18s.

The London-based fintech will now bank British users as young as seven via their guardians; the first of the major challenger banks to go after Generation Z.

As first reported by Sifted last year, Revolut — which now boasts 10m downloads — is looking to capitalise on Gen Z’s growing financial autonomy. In the UK alone, those aged between six and 18 earned £4.5bn in 2018, largely courtesy of social media and growing pocket-money allowances.

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Although brick-and-mortar banks have long offered accounts for under-18s, full-stack digital offerings are still sparse; leaving the partial solution of fee-based, pocket-money cards such as the UK’s gohenry and Osper. 

Revolut Junior will now take on both these sectors, primed with an average audience of 30-somethings who are beginning to have children. 

Like gohenry, Revolut Junior accounts will give parents easy top-up features and spending monitoring, but goes further by offering a banking app that matures once the children turn 18.

Revolut is also using the new product to boost overall subscriptions, as the Junior offering will initially only be available to UK Premium and Metal Revolut card holders (£6.99/month and £12.99/month respectively).

First look

Parents will control children’s cards via their Revolut app, while Juniors aged 7-17 have their own app and interface.

Sifted has accessed a first-look at the two apps, which are now available for Revolut’s premium users. 

The company says the child-friendly app has been inspired by age-appropriate sample groups to make sure it ticks teens’ boxes.

Indeed, Revolut is betting that its kids app will boost its chances by grasping the power of “cool”; something traditional banks still arguably lack.

Still, Revolut Junior is currently more expensive than gohenry’s £2.99 per month. Moreover, it won’t yet offer full bank accounts as Revolut is still chasing a UK bank license (it currently holds an e-money license), meaning users’ money would not be immediately returned if the firm collapsed.

Gen Z banking

Most importantly, Revolut Youth users will be absorbed onto the main banking platform once they turn 18. Current trajectories show most customers stick to their first bank for life, meaning “getting them young” has obvious appeal in the long-term. It’s also much more expensive to get customers to switch banks than to get them banked from the offset.

Beyond the UK, the Junior offering is also scheduled to sweep Europe within the next few months, taking on the likes of pocket money providers there like Spain’s Mitto.

However, Revolut may face existing competition in France, where Paris-based startup Kard recently launched a youth-bank for those aged 12+ and claims to have 50,000 active users.

Kard directly targets teens rather than their parents, unlike Revolut.

“We’ve taken a big risk [by not targeting parents]… Nobody has targeted teens before,” Kard chief executive and co-founder Scott Gordon told Sifted last year, adding that most parents aren’t “control-freaks” and want their children to become financially literate. 

Gordon expects to have 1m users by 2021 and is currently raising a Series A.

He also cast doubt on Revolut’s ability to tap into the super-young market given its non-specialised focus. However, autonomy and expertise aside, Revolut does have the benefit of not becoming pigeon-holed as a kids-only product. 

Others have spotted the potential folly of this, including German neo-bank N26 — one of today’s richest fintechs — which actually originally began as a pocket-money app called “Papaya”. Its founders developed the product to the point of being rolled out in beta, before pivoting to focus exclusively on the adult market.

Regardless, this renewed interest in the teenage fintech market suggests the space is hotting up. Expect others to follow.

“This generation was born with a smartphone in their hand… They’ve always lived around revolutionary movements,” Kard’s Scott Gordon noted.

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