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Infamous fintech Lanistar readies to re-launch in the UK

Lanistar is hoping to try its luck in the UK a second time this spring with a hoard of influencers and a new banking partner.



After a two-year hiatus, infamous London-based fintech Lanistar is preparing to re-launch in the UK.

The fintech, which has since gone on to build out its payment card provider offering in Latin America, first launched in the UK with all guns blazing.

It raised £2m seed and positioned itself as a rival to digital banks like Monzo and Revolut, with founder and then-CEO Gurhan Kiziloz saying he had an ambition to “create a £1bn fintech company”.

He even went so far as to buy the (Lanistar branded) unicorn.

Just eight months later, the company found itself in trouble with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The regulator published a warning on its website stating “this firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK [...] we believe [Lanistar] is carrying on unregulated activities which require authorisation”.

Now, the fintech is back, with Kiziloz out of the driving seat and instead in the role of chairman, according to Company’s House, and Jeremy Baber heading up the company.

Baber became CEO in January 2022, after a year as director of banking and financial services for the company, with previous roles at Link Financial and Aldermore Bank.

According to Baber, what is different about this re-launch on “home-turf” is its switch from partnering with Modulr — which he said could not provide the full banking solution the company needed — to working with Mastercard.

“The key to our launch (in Brazil) and those to follow in other parts of LATAM, has been our alliance partnership with Mastercard members, who offered a ‘Banking-as-a-Service’ solution,” Baber said. 

“This means Lanistar has a ‘one-stop shop’ solution for market entry in the region, offering a full suite of services including bank accounts, card issuing, fully digital onboarding, and best of breed regulatory compliance, KYC, and transaction monitoring.”

Supposedly with this change in banking partner, the fintech will now be able to offer this ‘one-stop shop’ solution to customers in the UK and Europe as well as in LATAM.

This is despite losing its FCA agency status with Modulr, because, according to Baber “the majority of fintechs have sought this moniker as a ‘badge of honour’ rather than [to] actually provide the services to their customers”. 

According to Lanistar, it differentiates itself from competitors through its “enhanced security” — it says it has “advanced UI/UX design” to make it “easier” and “probably more secure” than high street banks, tentatively stating that the cards are “probably some of the safest in the world”.

Launched with the intention of challenging the status quo of “old fashioned, traditional banking services”, Lanistar, though notably not a digital bank but rather a payment card provider, partners with a ream of social media influencers, also referred to as its “social influencer family”.

Influencers are paid in shares in return for sharing four posts a month, and can increase their number of shares by successfully referring other influencers to join the programme.

So according to Lanistar, more than 3000 people have shares in the company.

Targeting 18-35 year-olds Lanistar similarly launched with a big emphasis on influencers the first time around.

It also made claims of hitting one million users at pace and before it had even launched.

Now it says it expects to grow to over one million users by mid-2023, with a current 20,000 customers onboard in Brazil and the aim to launch in the UK in the spring.

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