May 22, 2024

HSBC debuts Zing consumer finance app amid mounting startup competition

HSBC Holdings plc, the U.K.’s largest bank, today debuted a new consumer finance app called Zing. 

Zing could put the financial services giant in a better position to address the mounting competition it faces from smaller rivals. The new app offers similar features as Revolut Ltd. and Wise Payments Ltd., two venture-backed consumer finance providers based in London. The companies’ combined revenue topped £1.6 billion, or $2 billion, during their most recent fiscal year thanks to a surge in user signups.

The app is available on iOS and Android. According to Bloomberg, HSBC will release it in the U.K. over the coming days with the goal of expanding availability to other countries down the road. The bank has a presence in dozens of markets worldwide.

Zing enables users to hold funds in up to 10 currencies. Though it’s operated by HBSC, the app is reportedly not a bank but rather operates as an “e-money institution.” As a result, users’ funds are not insured by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the U.K. equivalent of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Besides the ability to store funds, Zing also offers money transfer features. The app enables users to make cross-border payments in more than 30 currencies. According to Bloomberg, Zing processes transactions with a combination of local financial platforms and the Swift international money transfer system.

“Now is the time for a new kind of international payments solution; one that combines cutting-edge innovation with the support of a global bank,” said Zing founder and Chief Executive Officer James Allan. 

HSBC already offers similar money transfer features through a suite of services called Global Markets. However, those services are only accessible to consumers who open an account with the bank. Zing presents no such requirement, which could enable HSBC to expand its market reach.

If Zing proves popular, the bank may expand upon the feature set it offers on launch by adding more consumer finance services. Such a move would open additional opportunities for HSBC to monetize the app’s user base. A similar revenue growth strategy has been adopted by Revolut, which operates a mobile banking app of the same name.

Revolut generated revenues of £850 million in 2022. Last month, Bloomberg reported that the company’s average monthly revenue reached £125 million in the first half of 2023, which suggests a run rate of over £1.5 billion. Revolut is said to be growing its installed base by about 30,000 new users every week.

Wise, another Zing competitor, is also experiencing rapid growth. The company’s revenue climbed 25% year-over-year, to £498.2 million, in the six months ended Sept. 30. Its profit nearly tripled during the same time frame. 

Photo: mattbuck/Wikimedia

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