To much fanfare, Revolut announced their entrance into the cryptocurrency sphere yesterday with the addition to buy and sell ETH, BTC and LTC through their mobile banking app.
On the surface it is a match made in heaven. Revolut appeals to a younger generation (who are much more likely to be interested in cryptocurrencies), it reduces the need to use patchy exchanges and it enables the ability to buy through 25 different currencies rather than the usual USD/GBP/JPY/KRW pairs.
Given my issues with exchanges, specifically the withdrawal aspect, I was keen to try the service out. Upon upgrading to premium for £6.99 a month (worth it if I could avoid exchange fees and the hassle) I was able to buy ETH or BTC very simply. I went to send the ETH purchased to my wallet as usual - only to find out that I could not.
In fact, you can't do much. Anything, in fact. The ETH or BTC you purchase is stored by Revolut, you cannot transfer it to your own wallet, you cannot move to another exchange - it is stuck there. You can either sell back to Revolut or you can send to a friend using the Revolut app - so they can have it stuck on their profile instead. Bitcoin may market itself now as a store of wealth, but Revolut is really taking that concept to the extreme here.
The current mania may not be borne on fundamentals, but Revolut strips crypto of any purpose other than as a speculative asset. You can't use it for anything but to hopefully appreciate in value. You will never be able to use this ETH on the network, or purchase anything with BTC. It makes the technology itself utterly redundant. Customers should also beware that with no ability to move to a different exchange they are wholly dependent on Revolut (a company with its own service issues) not crashing during peak periods.
Hopefully this is just a starting point for Revolut, with further functionality to be added over time, and also serves as a starting point for more fintech and financial services to add legitimacy to the space. I understand why Revolut did not allow users to transfer crypto bought off other exchanges to Revolut. This would have opened them up to liquidity issues and large liabilities as people moved off exchanges to cash out through a cheaper and potentially more trustworthy platform. It is a shame, however, that they have stripped the technology of any functionality at all.