Natalie Monko Lead Project Manager

    How to Develop a Revolut Alternative: 7 Lessons for Newcomers in Web, iOS, and Android App Development

    What exactly promoted the popularity of Revolut alternatives and other apps for the new technological generation of banks among users? Traditional banks generally have to address issues such as bureaucracy, paper-based workflows, and time-consuming processes. Acting via web and mobile apps, neobanks and other similar alternatives to typical banks automate a variety of tasks (for example, asset management, lending, and investment) while offering an engaging user experience. Since neobanks do not have physical branches, their operational costs are reduced. Neobanks contribute greatly to financial inclusion by offering much lower costs and making financial services more accessible. In this regard, the popularity of neobank applications as alternatives to common banks is seeing a noticeable surge. 

    Revolut is the worldwide leading neobank that delivers money transfer and wealth management services via web and mobile apps. In July 2021, Revolut was valued at $33 billion, which made it the UK’s most valuable fintech startup. Launched as a simple currency exchange solution, Revolut transformed into a complex platform with rich functionality while gaining global recognition and becoming one of the key market players. So, if you are wondering how to create a banking app as successful as Revolut or even its alternative, you should have a look at the company’s expertise to learn from it.

    At Surf, we have considerable experience in building fintech software, such as web apps and solutions for smartphones. For instance, our engineers delivered the first banking application in Europe written with Flutter, using cross-platform development as an alternative to native frameworks. Another important project is a mobile bank app, in which we included a variety of functions like paying bills, money remittances, QR codes, and ATM search. To check out other case studies, visit our portfolio.

    revolut alternative
    The first Flutter banking app in Europe, delivered by Surf

    In this article, we will describe how to develop a mobile banking app like Revolut. Keep reading the guide to discover valuable insights and recommendations.

    Reasons behind the demand for bank apps serving as Revolut alternatives

    What is the Revolut app? Founded in 2015, Revolut was initially created with the intent of addressing a personal problem and providing an alternative solution to it. As Nikolay Storonsky, a co-founder of Revolut, traveled a lot, he was often forced to pay fees of hundreds of pounds for exchanging currencies and carrying out foreign transactions. At some point, Nikolay realized that it was a common issue for people who went on a journey or business trip, and they actively sought alternative solutions to it. Consequently, Revolut was launched, allowing users to exchange nearly 30 currencies via their mobile app and card at market rates. The bank app’s subsequent success was one of the main reasons behind the current popularity of Revolut alternatives.

    In the following years, a variety of new features were added to the product. As of today, Revolut is the global leading neobank that specializes in mobile banking, online payments, money transfers, and foreign currency/cryptocurrency exchange. Along with the Revolut web app, the neobank has a smartphone solution that supports online spending and ATM withdrawal in 120 currencies, as well as fund transfers in 29 currencies. The Revolut application also gives access to numerous cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and its alternatives. If you are looking to learn how to integrate crypto payments into a mobile product, read our article on the topic.

    For now, Revolut has over 40 million customers, up from around 15 million in spring 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of corporate clients increased more than twofold, rising from 220,000 to 500,000. Currently, the Revolut application is available in 150+ countries, including the UK, US, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. In some of them, the Revolut app is available in a simplified version with limited functionality — Revolut Lite. Delivering services to either business customers or private individuals, Revolut offers a free plan to try out basic functionality. To date, Revolut has raised a capital of $1.7 billion over 18 rounds.

    At the moment, neobanks are witnessing a surge — startups such as Revolut, Wise, Monzo, eToro, Nubank, and Starling Bank dominate the market, providing alternatives to traditional bank apps that are similar or even surpass them in usability and functionality. We’ve talked more on the topic in our article about leading fintech startups. In fact, Revolut has come a long way to attract millions of users and become a major market player, standing out among alternatives and direct competitors. The question is how we can create mobile banking apps like Revolut that are as successful today. Well, to find out, consider the fintech startup’s expertise.

    Learning from the expertise of Revolut

    In the rapidly evolving landscape of mobile banking, Revolut stands out as a bank that embraces innovation, transforming the way we perceive and interact with our finances. In this part of the article, we are going to explore the lessons that can be learned from Revolut’s groundbreaking (often alternative to traditional) approach that is shaping the future of financial technology. By identifying the core issues faced by bank customers on a daily basis, acquiring a banking license, focusing on essential features, and gradually expanding services, we’ll look at the key steps that have enabled Revolut to not only become the frontrunner in the fintech space but also provide invaluable insight for businesses seeking alternative paths.

    Lesson #1: Define the key problem

    Before building a banking app like Revolut, it pays to begin by analyzing bank app customers’ pain points and expectations. You will be able to gain customers and fill a market niche by addressing their concerns and identifying alternative solutions. Revolut’s founders, for instance, initially strove to minimize the fees imposed on foreign transactions and multi-currency operations. With the solution delivered via apps for smartphones and the web, Revolut was able to attract users and raise funds to facilitate further growth.

    Apps similar to Revolut do not have to be carbon copies; rather, they must add true value by assisting users in making intelligent investment decisions and improving budget planning. Since the current fintech landscape is as competitive as ever before, it is critical to perform market analysis and comprehend the audience’s expectations prior to creating an alternative to existing platforms or building a banking app like Revolut.

    Here at Surf, we recommend that you also check out the latest reports and surveys devoted to the use of similar banking applications. According to the American Bankers Association, in 2023, nearly half of bank customers (48%) of various ages consider mobile apps to be their primary method of managing their banking accounts, with others perceived as alternatives.

    Lesson #2: Get a banking license

    When considering how to develop a mobile banking app like Revolut and outline a roadmap, you must first plan the time and budget for obtaining a license. A license, which serves as a legal certificate, enables organizations to provide banking services. There are a lot of licenses that are quite similar and alternative to each other at a glance that, however, serve certain purposes and have their own specifications.

    The Bank of Lithuania helped Revolut obtain a Challenger bank license from the European Central Bank in 2018. Thanks to this, Revolut became able to provide consumer credits and accept deposits. The Bank of Lithuania approved Revolut’s application for an Electronic Money Institution license. Revolut applied for a UK banking license in January 2021, followed by a US bank charter two months later. 

    To choose a banking license properly, you have to determine business needs and goals, such as the extent of digital financial services you intend to provide, geographical location, costs, and other alternative aspects. It is important to take into account licenses that can be secured in your country and research the requirements that have to be met. In our dedicated article, you can find out what types of banking licenses exist and what terms they impose.

    Lesson #3: Start with core features

    To increase the project’s chances of success while reducing costs and time to market, begin by developing a minimum viable product (MVP). It only includes the core features of an app and is used to determine whether your solution meets the needs of your target audience. By creating an MVP, you avoid the risk of implementing complex or alternative functionality that end users may not even need.

    How not build a software product
    MVP development (Source:

    An MVP of an app like Revolut must include the following features:

    • Registration and authorization. To increase customer engagement, an organization should provide multiple ways to log in to the app, such as via email and phone number, as well as alternative ones through web services such as Google and Facebook. Two-factor authentication, biometrics (fingerprint, facial, and/or behavioral recognition), and security questions are critical for protecting sensitive data.
    • Home screen. This screen generally displays balance information for all cards connected to the app and provides fast access to other functionality. Revolut users can customize widgets available on the home screen to achieve an alternative, personalized look.
    Revolut’s Home screen (Source:
    • Online payments. Users should be able to swiftly pay off utility bills, mobile communication, public services, deposits, public transport, and so on. In addition, you can enable users to carry out cryptocurrency transactions using Bitcoin and alternatives.
    • Transaction history. Mobile banking app development includes the delivery of transaction history functionality to let customers control their spending. When scrolling through the list of payments, app users should be able to see details like the amount of money transferred, recipient information (for example, a card number or the name of a person or organization), time, and date.
    • Saving vaults. In order to help users faster accomplish their financial goals, you can let them create sub-accounts for putting money aside, an alternative to a piggy bank. When building a banking app like Revolut, you can allow customers to spin out the money by increasing the transaction’s amount to the nearest whole or simple number and saving a spare change in the vault.

    The future application’s MVP will allow you to draw in early users and get their input. It will be feasible to make updates in line with the audience’s expectations by listening to them and finding better alternatives to unpopular solutions, which will increase consumer loyalty. 

    Lesson #4: Gradually extend a mobile banking app

    Revolut entered the market with a simple solution that became an alternative to other finance apps, allowing users to exchange numerous currencies at market rates. As of today, Revolut apps offer a wide range of financial services. If you want to learn how to develop a mobile banking app like Revolut that will gain global recognition in a similar manner, take a look at the timeline highlighting the key points of the startup’s evolution:

    • Winter 2017. Revolut mobile app released bill splitting with contacts, thus becoming the first challenger bank to deliver such functionality. The company also launched UK current accounts to let users receive salaries via a Revolut banking app. It allowed customers to use selfies and passport photos to verify their accounts as an alternative proof of address and a bank account. This enhancement aimed to engage clients and present itself as an alternative to traditional banks. Along with it, an AI chatbot was launched for instant customer support in the app.
    • Spring 2017. Revolut partnered with Lending Works to offer credit lines via the app and launched Revolut Premium, which includes unlimited foreign exchange and double the number of free ATM withdrawals abroad.
    • Summer 2017. Revolut announced the release of business current accounts that would let clients make international money remittances without fees. The company introduced enhanced account functionalities, including Euro Accounts, that provided Revolut users with a unique IBAN via the app.
    • 2017. Revolut developed a cryptocurrency exchange platform, supporting transactions in Bitcoin and its alternatives across 25 currencies via the app.
    • Winter 2018. Newly added features included travel insurance and the «Rev Me» feature, allowing users to request money from non-users. Price Alerts for fluctuations in currency rates were also integrated.
    • Spring 2018. The introduction of disposable virtual cards for Revolut Premium clients provided greater security during online transactions, generating new card details for each transaction.
    • Summer 2019. Commission-free stock trading became available to Revolut users, initially only to Metal plan customers but later to all. Proximity payments have also arrived, making it easier to transfer money to people nearby through the Revolut app and improving the user experience.
    • Summer 2020. Revolut launched a rewards program offering discounts and cashback from over 60 prominent brands, coupled with personalized rewards, to enhance shopping experiences and provide an alternative to other shopping loyalty systems.
    • Summer 2021. The app expanded further into lifestyle services by offering up to 10% cashback on hotel bookings made through Revolut, bolstering its position as a comprehensive financial service platform.
    • Fall 2022. The Revolut app allows users to shop items from over 1000 brands through a built-in Shops marketplace, which offers 3% cashback and split payments.
    • Fall 2023. The Revolut application’s interface has been updated, providing new customization options for an alternative look and quick access to essential functionality.

    The story of Revolut is an excellent example of how to build a mobile banking app. To launch a successful fintech product that can be a viable alternative to existing ones, you do not need to provide extensive functionality similar to existing platforms in the first version. Otherwise, you may not meet consumer demand while wasting too much time and money. So, gradually expand your solution based on end-user needs and market trends.

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    Lesson #5: Create a user-friendly design

    A user interface (UI) / experience (UX) design is an important stage in mobile banking app development. UI/UX experts have to provide smooth navigation, convenient menu structure, and easy-to-use bank accounts while organizing content and functionality in a way that customers can interact with the solution without even thinking about an alternative logic or path.

    To engage clients and prevent their migrating to alternative bank applications, it is crucial to create an intuitive user interface. As a result, elements like buttons, icons, and text should not take over the layout. It is also critical to maintain a clear and consistent color scheme while using similar fonts throughout the application.

    Revolut iOS app serves as a great example of user-friendly design. The application provides consistency and a similar experience across all screens and devices. Due to a self-explanatory UI, Revolut customers can easily find what they need. Every screen of the Revolut application serves a certain purpose.

    Lesson #6: Ensure data security

    Data security and privacy are important aspects to pay special attention to when it comes to fintech and bank applications that store sensitive information. Therefore, when figuring out how to develop a mobile banking app like Revolut, you should deliver two-factor authentication or other alternative security solutions, data encryption, biometrics, and other similar application features.

    Regarding the expertise of Revolut, the company implements fingerprint recognition to increase the protection of user accounts. The Revolut mobile application allows users to issue as many virtual cards to their accounts as they need, as well as disposable virtual cards that provide alternative details after each online payment. The fintech product also enables customers to freeze their Revolut cards and change PINs.

    Furthermore, Revolut employs Sherlock, an anti-fraud system, to receive real-time alerts regarding suspicious application login attempts and other similar activities. Powered by AI, Sherlock continuously and autonomously monitors transactions carried out via the Revolut app.

    If Sherlock detects a potential risk, the payment is blocked and the Revolut card is frozen, and the user is notified via push notification whether the transaction is fraudulent or not. If the user confirms the transaction, Sherlock unblocks the card; if, in alternative scenario, he denies it, the system terminates the card.

    With Sherlock, Revolut managed to save over $3 million during the year. The startup reports that 30% of predictions made by Sherlock were correct. In addition to that, the system identified 96% of fraudulent transactions.. 

    Lesson #7: Make a banking app work offline

    Despite the current widespread high-bandwidth networks, banking mobile app developers should consider alternative use cases and enable users to carry out transactions and make investments at any time they need. Thanks to this feature, Revolut customers will have the possibility to perform the required activities in a similar fashion even if there is an unstable or absent Internet connection.

    To provide this functionality, Revolut developed a custom solution that first displays data from the cache. After receiving the data from the server, the tool saves it to the database and makes updates on the screen if necessary. Engineers at Revolut saved time and increased efficiency by not having to implement an alternative offline mode for each individual screen or component thanks to the custom solution.

    We specialize in banking app development and have extensive experience developing apps that are alternatives to Revolut and other types of finance products. Let us look at a few notable fintech projects completed by our team.

    Surf’s experience in banking app development

    Since our founding in 2011, we have provided dozens of banking and finance solutions. For example, our engineers built the first banking app in Europe with Flutter. The product enables customers to manage multiple alternative accounts, exchange currencies, create documents, invoices, and payment orders. To properly prioritize features, we conducted interviews with domain professionals to learn about their business objectives and expectations.

    As a result, the application was ranked first among smartphone apps in the banking, finance, and insurance categories. Using the Flutter cross-platform framework eliminated the need to write separate codebases for iOS and Android, allowing us to reduce costs and time to market. With Flutter’s cross-platform alternative approach, the application for our client achieved performance and scalability at a lower cost. Learn more about why Flutter is perfectly suited for mobile banking app development.

    A Bank App for VIP Clients is another featured fintech project in our portfolio. In just three months, we developed a mobile application for VIP clients that allows customers to check their balance and cash flow, consult with a personal manager, and even book a private helicopter — a worthy alternative to a concierge service.

    A banking app for VIP clients
    A banking app for VIP clients

    Additionally, our team created a B2C mobile bank that lets users open a card, account, deposit, or loan. The home screen displays client products linked to the app while providing the possibility to remove or add any elements to create an alternative look. By implementing expenditure visualization by category, we enabled users to easily control their spending. With the solution, users can also view the history of all their operations in a similar fashion.

    At Surf, we also built Twim, which is a mobile crypto exchange platform for both novice and professional investors. Using the app, customers can buy and sell Bitcoin and other alternative crypto coins while monitoring their rates in real time.

    A crypto exchange app developed by Surf
    A crypto exchange app developed by Surf

    Final words

    Building a banking app like Revolut is a complex process that includes design, development, and testing. Prior to project start, it is crucial to analyze the strong and weak sides of rivals that provide alternative services, as well as discover the audience’s pain points. This will help you identify the main product tasks and prioritize the application’s features to meet consumer demand. It is important to keep in mind that a fintech solution must provide value to customers while ensuring a seamless user experience.

    With solid experience in banking app development, our team undertakes software projects ranging from business analysis and prototyping to application support and maintenance. We can help you prepare a technical specification, identify key functionality, and create a delivery roadmap. Our engineers use best software engineering practices to provide security, high availability, and fault tolerance while complying with relevant regulations such as GDPR. We can either develop similar applications for different platforms with native technologies or take the alternative path of cross-platform development with Flutter.

    If you are going to make a fintech app like Revolut, feel free to drop us a message. We will contact you shortly to assist with resolving all issues and finding alternative solutions to the known roadblocks.