If you haven’t heard of Revolut yet, you’ve probably not been paying too much attention to the UK’s FinTech scene. The digital challenger bank made headlines yet again after it landed a whopping $250m in a Series C round led by DST Global, becoming the latest tech company to gain ‘unicorn’ status.
The rumours had been circulating for a few weeks before the news broke, and figures surrounding its valuation have been flying. For a company that is just three years old, its success is quite astonishing; it’s raised a substantial $340m to date.
With this latest round more than quadrupling its valuation to a massive $1.7bn, Revolut joined the tech unicorn club, and seems to be delivering on its promise to disrupt the banking industry. But, what is the global money app all about, and where did it come from?
Here is everything we know – and what you should know too – about Revolut so far.
How it began
To get an idea of Revolut’s objective, you only need to look to the founder’s mission statement: to turn the financial banking sector on its head.
The company was founded in July 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. Now acting as the company’s CTO, Yatsenko had a background in FinTech prior to Revolut. He spent 10 years building financial systems for tier one investments banks, including senior java developer at UBS Investment Bank and as an app developer at Deutsche Bank.
CEO Storonsky studied physics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, followed by Economics at the New Economic School. He then took a job as a trader at Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers before launching Revolut.
Storonsky said in an interview with Forbes that: “I thought of the business three years ago. I was travelling a lot and wasting hundreds of pounds on foreign transaction fees and exchange rate commissions which just didn’t feel right.
“As someone with a financial background I knew exactly the rates I should be getting. As a solution, I tried to find a multi-currency card and was later told it wasn’t possible. But I was determined to make it work.”
What it offers
Since the beginning, Revolut’s aim has been to “build a fair and frictionless platform to use and manage money around the world”. Essentially, to act as a banking alternative for people and businesses.
From this, Revolut set out to do just that. It now offers free international money transfers and fee-free global spending at the interbank exchange rate.
Revolut now works as a to a multi-currency card with an app attached. The company claims you can open an account with them in just 60 seconds.
With a Revolut account, you can:
- Hold and exchange 25 currencies in the app.
- Send free domestic and international money transfers.
- Spend abroad with no fees in over 130 currencies with a contactless MasterCard or Visa.
- Make £200 per month of free international ATM withdrawals with a 2% fee thereafter.
It also offers:
- Instant spending notifications, spending categorisation and budgeting controls.
- Enhanced security with ability to enable/disable contactless payments, swipe payments etc.
- Device insurance and travel medical insurance.
- Instant credit to your account in 2 minutes worldwide.
‘Premium’ accounts can also access: exclusive card designs, overseas medical insurance, airport lounges, 24/7 support.
One of Revolut’s latest ventures is to allow customers to buy, hold, exchange and transfer (internally) bitcoin, litecoin and ethereum.
For business accounts specifically, Revolut also offers corporate cards for employees to spend abroad, individual EUR and GBP IBANS for businesses and open API to automate payments and (possibly) connect platforms such as Xero and Stripe.
Coming up next, the company hopes to offer merchant accounts.
Revolut has seen an impressive surge of growth in three years. Kicking off with £1.5m in investment the same month it launched, followed by a £1.5m Seed in February 2016.
Revolut’s Series A then came from Balderton Capital in July 2016, adding an extra £6.8m to its pot. But this was small change compared to where Revolut was heading.
In July 2017, Revolut bagged a massive $66m for it’s Series B round led by Index Ventures. With this latest $250m injection from DST global, Revolut has now raised $336.4m, including debt financing and non-equity.
It counts Point Nine, Index Ventures, Seedcamp, Balderton Capital and Ribbit Capital in its investor portfolio, showing it has solid support for its business model and features.
Revolut employs around 350 people at the moment, (but this growing at around 15-20 people per month), across offices in London, Krakow, Moscow, St Petersburg, Vilnius, Berlin, Paris and Barcelona. That’s not enough for the company; moving forward, it hopes to take on North America, Middle East, Asia and Australasia.
Revolut is currently applying for a banking licence in Lithuania, but in the meantime it is regulated by the European E-Money Licence and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Whatever the future holds for Revolut, with more than 1.8m customers and 6,000 – 8,000 new ones per day undertaking more than 70m transactions, it is clearly filling a demand for banking beyond the traditional institutions, but it’s growth is largely attributed to Storonsky’s ethos, which has been branded ‘utilitarian’.
Earlier this year, the co-founder spoke to the Financial Times and said: “I can’t see how work-life balance will help you to build a startup.”
The startup’s culture may not be for everyone, but it’s seems to have paid off so far.