City watchdog to probe Revolut’s ‘single-shaming’ ads

The City watchdog is to investigate fintech unicorn Revolut’s “single-shaming” advertising campaign following a series of complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has referred complaints about Revolut’s spoof advertisements to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In a statement, the ASA said: “We received a small number of complaints in connection with the Revolut ads.

“Where these make claims about the product or service it falls within the remit of the FCA, and we have passed on complaints that deal with these for their consideration.”

The company’s advertisements on the Tube drew comparisons to music streaming app Spotify’s recent marketing campaign.

Revolut’s adverts said: “To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day. You ok, hun?”

This sparked the ire of several people on Twitter, including financial blogger Iona Bain, who accused Revolut of “single-shaming” and raised the issue of ethics surrounding firms’ use of customers’ data and privacy.

She tweeted: “How much does this ad infuriate me? Let me count the ways. Firstly, patronising language & awful single-shaming more redolent of early 2000s Bridget Jones, not a modern and empowered fintech brand.

“Using people’s personal spending data for cheap advertising just gives open banking’s critics more fuel and feeds the perception that brands use our private info for purposes not entirely in our interests.”

Revolut declined to comment on the adverts but is hosting a Valentine’s Day drinks event at its London office for “anyone who doesn’t yet have plans”.

Current account provider Revolut, known for its metal bank cards and free foreign exchange transactions, has grown rapidly since it launched four years ago.

It was founded by former investment bankers Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko and is worth about 1.7 billion US dollars (£1.3 billion).