Revolut is one of banking / fintech startups which have now morphed into companies with millions of customers. They say they offer a “Radically better account” and are focused on:

  • managing your money with an app
  • sending money with ease
  • better rates when travelling
  • better security
  • even a cryptocurrency exchange

There is a free account although they also offer a Premium and Metal account which you pay for. This gives extra perks like higher international ATM withdrawal limits, travel insurance, and unlimited foreign exchange. The Metal account goes further with a so-called concierge and also lounge access (see later).

It is important to note that although they have been granted a Banking License in Europe, it is not yet (as I understand it) operational in the UK. This is different to the likes of Monzo who have been a fully-fledged UK bank since inception.

Revolut Metal

(Sadly) Revolut saw me coming. I paid for a Metal card…

The card is very, very nice. A smooth, cold sheet of machined black, faintly green metal which is distinctive and I guess, luxurious. A metal card is not new though. Platinum and Centurion Amex have metal cards in the US (not the UK though). N26 re also offering a metal card too.

I was intially attracted to the tripe ATM withdrawal limits when abroad, the insurance and also the lounge access. This is where I started to notice a pattern of over-promise and under-deliver.

The lounge access was advertised in a very sly way… you only get one free visit.

Yep. Only one.

Then you pay each time and it’s been shown to be more costly than going direct in some cases. I’m convinced this was never highlighted in the initial marketing.

This was announced a few weeks ago and made a note that I probably wouldn’t want to renew the Metal plan. This has now been reinforced by three pieces of information that have been brought to light this week…

Cracks are starting to show

This Wired article, “Revolut insiders reveal the human cost of a fintech unicorn’s wild rise” has lifted the lid on what seems like a toxic work environment and culture.

She did a 30-minute job interview over Google Hangouts with the London-based head of business development, Andrius Biceika, and was immediately told she had passed to the next round, which would involve a small test. “The surprise came when I received the task and it asked me to get the company as many clients as possible, with each one depositing €10 into the app,” says Laura.

Wired Magazine

Eugh. Not exactly what you’d expect from an interview and application process is it?

Slack screengrab from CEO

There has also been this leaked screengrab of the CEO’s Slack message:
Toxic environment

You can see a bigger version here so you can read how toxic this is.

To finish a torrid week for them, this morning it has been announced that their CFO has resigned:

Having been at Revolut for almost three years, I am immensely proud to have taken the company from £1m revenue to £50m revenue during this time. However, as Revolut begins to scale globally and applies to become a bank in multiple jurisdictions, the time has come to pass the reigns over to someone who has global retail banking experience at this level. My time at Revolut has been invaluable and I’m so proud of what myself and the team have achieved. There is no doubt in my mind that Revolut will go on to build one of the largest and most trusted financial institutions in the world.

Peter O’Higgins

He makes no mention of the scandal which emerged only a few days ago when The Telegraph exposed that Revolut had been accused of violating banking rules by failing to block suspicious transactions on its platform.

Questions to be asked

Many people have lost confidence in banks and the banking sector over the past few years. Luckily, there is now a wealth of choice from the likes of Revolut, N26, Starling, Atom, Clear and of course Monzo.

So we have plenty of choice and we should look long and hard at how they do business, how they treat their staff and customers, as well as the features and services they offer.

It looks like Revolut and their CEO are taking that “at all costs” attitude to success and is the opposite to how business and organisations could and should conduct themselves.

Sadly, company ethics come from the top. If the founders and senior management allow bad practice and actually encourage it, then guess what? It will be endemic in the organisation. A tumour which spreads.

It seems like Revolut have been taking a note out of Uber’s playbook. Growth at all costs, a toxic environment, and a f*ck you attitude to anyone who won’t sign up for this way of working.

Someone needs to send Nikolay Storonsky a copy of “It doesn’t have to be crazy at work” and quickly.


Nikolay has now just published a blog post saying they never breached financial regulations.

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