July 17, 2018 / 11:48 AM / 5 months ago

Revolut reports suspected money laundering to UK authorities

LONDON (Reuters) - Digital bank Revolut has reported suspected money laundering activities on its network to British law enforcement and regulatory agencies, a spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that the sums of money involved were not significant.

The spokesman confirmed an article in the Financial Times newspaper which said the bank had flagged a spate of suspected money laundering a couple of months ago to both the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

He said the report filed with authorities was routine and that Revolut would normally flag this kind of activity to both the NCA and the FCA. He did not disclose the amount of money involved.

Revolut has signed up 2.25 million users since its launch in July 2015, making it the largest and fastest growing of a set of new app-only banks that have sprung up in Britain.

Like other financial technology firms, these upstart banks have faced questions over whether their compliance capabilities and resources can keep pace with rapid user growth, or if they can provide the same safeguards as mainstream banks.

Revolut does not currently have a banking licence, which would allow it to offer more services such as loans.

It is now in the process of applying for a European banking licence in Lithuania rather than in Britain. Lithuania has been trying to attract fintech firms since 2016, hoping UK-based finance companies might apply for licences in the country to maintain access to the European Union after Brexit.

Revolut customers can currently open an account, have a debit card and other money management tools via its smartphone app.

It also offers foreign exchange services, as well as allowing customers to spend abroad without charges and hold, buy and sell cryptocurrencies like bitcoin via the app.

Revolut’s spokesman said the firm’s controls would make large-scale money laundering difficult.

Users’ spending habits determine the amount of money they are able to move over the system up to an annual limit of 25,000 pounds ($33,155), after which additional controls are activated, he said.

He also said new users that have no spending history have a spending limit of 200 pounds.

Reporting by Emma Rumney. Editing by Jane Merriman

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