Fintech start-ups in the UK face a funding shortfall after Brexit, and some are even being enticed across to Berlin, but for Revolut – a currency exchange app set up by former Credit Suisse trader, Nikolay Storonsky – now is the time for expansion.
18 months after its launch in August 2014, Revolut had five people. Now, it has 60 employees and is still hiring. As well raising £6.75m in venture capital funding immediately after the Brexit vote, Storonky tells us that 11,000 people pledged £18m when it looked to crowdfunding for an additional £1m. In the end, they pared the list down to 150 investors, says Storonsky.
Revolut’s headcount expansion has been pinned upon talent emerging from the banking sector.
Veronique Merriam Barbosa, its head of partnerships, spent two years in debt capital markets origination at Morgan Stanley. It’s co-founder and CTO, Vladyslav Yatsenko, worked at Deutsche Bank and its lead platform engineer, Lewis Tuff, came from Goldman Sachs.
“Around 50% of our people have come from the banking sector, largely developers or software engineers,” says Storonsky. “We’re connected to the financial sector, but it’s a much less corporate environment. They want to create something new, rather than being a small cog in a big machine.”
Salaries for technologists are a “little bit less” than they would earn working for a large investment bank, he says, but Revolut attempts to even this out through offering share options. Storonsky also said that – after eight years of lucrative compensation as an investment banking trader – he’s largely been working for shares until the company begins to make a profit.
Brexit, he says, presents an opportunity for some of the fintech firms who can capitalise on the moves away from large banks who don’t have the technology to compete with more nimble start-ups.
“It’s an opportunity for us, but the environment is very tough for 90% of fintech firms in London, as investors are a lot more cautious about committing their money now,” he says. “Overall, Brexit has been negative for the sector.”
Revolut’s app allows customers to spend money anywhere in the world in around 90 currencies, as well as send money overseas, without incurring the usual fees.
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