How Revolut Became One of the Most Valuable Fintech Startups Ever
Apr 07, 2021
Neo-banks have entered the banking sector and keep winning customers thanks to innovative products and better user experiences than big financial institutions. As defined in our blog post on neo-banking, a neo-bank is a technology-based bank without branches where all operations are done online. Because neo-banks have fewer overheads and a generally slimmer business model than traditional banks, users commonly can enjoy higher interest rates and lower fees. One of the most successful neo-banks is Revolut, a London-based fintech company founded in July 2015 and achieved unicorn status in 2018. In this blog post, we are summarizing the success story of Revolut.
Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky: “I was determined to make it work”
Revolut initially helped international travelers avoid horrid foreign exchange fees by letting them change money into about 30 currencies at market rates with the Revolut smartphone app and card. In an interview with Forbes, Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky said in December 2015: “I thought of the business three years ago. I traveled a lot and wasted hundreds of pounds on foreign transaction fees and exchange rate commissions, which did not 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 was impossible. But I was determined to make it work.”
15 million customers use the Revolut app
In the last years, Revolut has added other banking services to its portfolio: debit cards, virtual cards, Apple Pay, saving vaults that allow Revolut customers to earn interest on their money, commission-free stock trading, access to cryptocurrencies, commodities, and further services are continually being developed. Revolut started offering business customers to take payments via QR codes during the pandemic to help their broad user base follow social distancing guidelines. In 25 countries across Europe, Revolut Business customers can generate a QR code in the Revolut app, which the customer then scans with their smartphone camera from a safe distance. As of spring 2021, Revolut has about 15 million customers, most of them are in the European Union and in the United Kingdom. Besides Europe, Revolut also operates in Japan, Singapore, Australia, and the US. After a beta trial in Canada for one and a half years, Revolut decided to exit the Canadian market in March 2021.
On the path to reach a $10-15 billion valuation
After their latest funding round in early 2020, which raised $500 million at a valuation of $5.5 billion, Revolut is now preparing a new funding round that will value the company between $10-15 billion, as several newspapers claim. The London-based fintech is lining up FT Partners, a US-based investment bank focusing on fintech, as its adviser on the transaction, as Sky News article claims.
The funding round not only cements Revoluts’ standing as one of the most successful fintech companies on the continent, but it also makes the founder Nik Storonsky one of Europe’s youngest billionaires, as the article states further.
Besides making the founder Nik Storonsky one of the youngest billionaires in Europe, the funding round cements the standing of Revolut among the most successful fintech companies on the continent.
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Access to rising tech stars has been strictly limited for years
When will Revolut go public? It is rumored that Revolut might go public in the US through a traditional IPO. “Revolut signaled it is in no hurry to go public despite the red-hot IPO market”, a CNN article claims. “You could rush an IPO to make a few quick bucks for shareholders,” Storonsky says in the article, “but we are in this business for tons of years.” Current market dynamics, an internationally flourishing Venture Capital (VC) ecosystem, and access to cheap capital due to low-interest rates incentivize many companies to stay private much longer than those founded before 2000.
The trend of companies staying private longer leveraged the power of only a small number of players in the exclusive VC and hedge fund community to profit from such opportunities. At Stableton, we are on a mission to break down entry barriers to private markets and provide access to exclusive pre-IPO deals. Members of the Stableton Marketplace now have the chance to be part of the Revolut success story by participating in the subsequent Revolut funding round.
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Following Brexit, Revolut applied for a UK banking license
Before going public, Revolut keeps growing. As explained in our last blog post, neo-banks often operate with their own banking license. Revolut holds a banking license in the European Union, enabling the fintech company to offer its banking products in Europe. In January 2021, the revolutionary fintech applied for a banking license in the UK. The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are now reviewing the application. The license will allow Revolut to house, guarantee, and lend out British users’ deposits. The German neo-bank and Revolut competitor N26 announced in February this year that it would cease all UK operations following Brexit and close all accounts by the 15th of April 2021.
Just one year after entering the US market, Revolut has big plans
Revolut has been operational in the US retail market since early 2020 and partnered with Metropolitan Commercial Bank for the banking infrastructure. The European fintech unicorn now applied for a US banking license. According to the fintech news platform Finextra, Revolut filed a draft application for a banking license with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation in March 2021. “A US banking license would ultimately enable us to provide US customers with all the essential financial products and services they can expect from their primary bank including loans and deposits,” Revolut co-founder and CEO Storonsky is quoted in the Finextra article.
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*Disclaimer: The above article is for educational purposes only and does neither constitute investment advice nor should it be considered to be an invitation or recommendation to buy securities or any other investment products. Please consult your financial advisor about the risks and opportunities prior to making investment decisions. By clicking on that link you confirm that you are a resident of Switzerland and a Qualified Investor according to the new Swiss legislation on collective investment schemes (CISA and CISO).
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