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Revolut "almost there" on UK banking licence, says CEO, as payment app set to reveal first annual profit

In an interview with the Sunday Times, CEO and co-founder Nik Storonsky looked to deflect some of the recent criticism of the fintech and said it is closing in on being granted a UK banking licence.

a man and a woman sitting on a couch

Vlad Yatsenko & Nik Storonsky/Revolut.

Revolut’s application for a UK banking licence is “going very well” and it is “almost there”, according to Revolut co-founder and CEO Nik Storonksy.

The disclosure came in an interview with Storonsky in the  Sunday Times, in which he also revealed that Revolut is set to make its first annual profit in 2021.

The news that Revolut is nearing being granted a UK banking licence follows questions about whether the fintech would ever be granted one.

Departures from Revolut’s compliance, regulatory and risk teams and criticism from the regulator of the auditing of its accounts had led some to question whether it would get the go-ahead.

In the interview, Storonsky looks to dampen these concerns and answer some of the recent criticism the company has faced.

On the UK banking licence, the CEO said “the reality” is that when other banks get licences it takes “no more than three years” but Revolut is “a very complex financial institution with more than 20 million customers and more than 5 million in the UK”.

Asked if it will be granted a licence, which Revolut filed for in January 2021, Storonsky said “It’s not really dependent on me”.

Storonsky also says he was misunderstood over an outburst he made earlier this year, when he called out the UK regulators' “principle-driven” approach, arguing it slowed the system.

He said he was not complaining, but was impatient.

Storonsky said: “I’m in a start-up, we’re moving so fast, and we want to build the products. We have fantastic relations [with the regulators]."

Should it get the green light, the UK banking licence would help Revolut with other licences across the world, such as the US, where an application is pending. 

The CEO said Revolut is also still awaiting licence decisions in Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

 “They look to your home regulator,” he said. “Their licence is subject to your home regulator’s licence.”

Without a UK banking licence, Storonsky said that “it definitely will complicate [things]”.

A recent report in the Financial Times raised the issue that graduate jobs offered at Revolut were been withdrawn under a cost-cutting programme called Prism.

However, the CEO rebuffed the suggestion it was cost-cutting but called it a “mapping exercise of our strategy to our resources”.

Amid job cuts across fintech, Storonsky said Revolut is hiring rapidly, hiring 300 people a month, upping staff numbers from 2,100 in March last year to more than 5,000.

The business has recorded growth of “more than 100 per cent in terms of every metric”, Storonsky said, who was interviewed remotely from Ukraine, where he was visiting staff displaced by the war.

On the recentcriticism of the auditing of its accounts, Storonsky said this helps explain why Revolut’s accounts, which were filed in July and August in the past two years, are yet to the published at Companies House.

He said "we are a more complex organisation with more products with more transactions,” adding that it looks like Revolut “made a very good profit” in 2021.

Storonsky reiterated that Revolut can be a “super app”.

“Ultimately, by super app, I mean a global bank, which gives you access to all financial services,” he added.

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