LONDON — Fast-growing fintech startup Revolut has announced plans to raise £4 million through crowdfunding at some point later this year, using the announcement as an opportunity to promote its new “Premium” product.
Revolut announced on Thursday that it plans to raise the sum through the Seedrs crowdfunding platform at some point later this year. It follows a hugely oversubscribed £1 million crowdfund on rival platform Crowdcube last July.
The raise represents a coup for Seedrs, which has a fierce rivalry with Crowdcube. Together the two make up the vast majority of the UK crowdfunding market.
Revolut’s founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky told Business Insider that he was not involved in the decision to switch between the two rival platforms but said he thought the decision was driven by a better offer from Seedrs. Commenting on last year’s Crowdcube raise, Storonsky said: “They were OK, I can’t complain.”
Thomas Davies, Chief Investment Officer at Seedrs, told BI in an email that the platform was getting more raises over £1 million and said: “We often hear that the reason these later stage businesses are increasingly using us as their platform of choice is because it’s just easier and quicker to raise the funds and execute the deal.
“We are the only platform that offers a full-service nominee, which means that we can take care of all of the administrative work so that the company doesn’t have to, whilst also ensuring that the crowd investors are represented by Seedrs and afforded the same investor protections as other investors in the deal.”
Fintech startup Revolut, founded just over two years ago, offers a pre-paid card linked to an app that lets people spend, send, and exchange 23 currencies at the best rate available, the so-called “interbank” rate. Customers can exchange up to £5,000-worth of currency at this level without incurring fees. The service has proved hugely popular, attracting over half a million customers across Europe in just 24 months.
‘We know that we will do a crowdfunding and we also want to promote premium’
The reason Revolut is announcing the crowdfunding now even though it’s not actually doing it is because it’s using the announcement as a chance to promote a new feature that it is launching, Revolut Premium.
Storonsky told BI: “We know that we will do a crowdfunding and we also want to promote premium. So that’s why we’re telling people we will do crowdfunding for sure but to guarantee yourself a spot you need to get premium.”
Premium is a subscription service that allows people to make unlimited money transfers through the app for a fixed monthly price of £6.99 a month. Subscribers will also get other benefits such as overseas medical insurance and special customer service.
Storonsky, a former currency trader with Credit Suisse, said: “From my side, the reason I would use it is purely because of FX. I can effectively buy and sell currency at any time at the interbank rate without paying any commissions. Nowhere in the world will give you this opportunity because they all charge commission, take a cut etc.”
The first 5,000 Premium subscribers will get guaranteed access to Revolut’s upcoming crowdfunding, meaning the startup is in effect asking customers to pay for the privilege of investing. Over 10,000 people expressed interest in investing in Revolut last year.
Storonsky said: “Last time we did a crowdfunding, we had 10,000 people and only 400 ended up investing. Now we’re saying you want to reserve your spot for the next crowdfunding, which will happen I don’t know when, probably in summer or something.”
Revolut Premium is pitched at heavy users of the app’s currency interchange feature. Storonsky estimated that around 18% of the company’s 550,000 users would benefit from subscribing, rather than incurring the current fees of 0.5% for any monthly transfer volumes above £5,000.
He said: “Some of them are doing quite big volumes, €1 million and above. We also see people who are actively trading and this product is very beneficial for them because you can effectively buy and sell currencies at any volume, all at interbank rate.”
Who is moving over €1 million a month through the app? Storonsky says: “For example, they would sell a house. This kind of thing. Sometimes they sell stocks as well. Sometimes they sell their savings in dollars because they don’t believe in the pound, they want to exchange dollars back to another currency.”
The Premium feature is one of a number of new products and features recently launched by the startup as it “seeks to hit aggressive growth and monetisation targets,” according to a press release.
In January, Revolut launched current account features within the app that allow people to get their salaries on the card and set up standing orders. Earlier this month, Revolut also partnered with property investment platform Bricklane to offer an ISA product and last week the startup announced in-app peer-to-peer loans in partnership with platform Lending Works. A business product is set to be launched shortly.
‘We get constantly inbound requests from VCs’
The £4 million round, which Storonsky said would likely come in the summer, will be alongside a Series B funding round, which Storonsky said could reach as high as £50 million.
The startup has raised already over £10 million to date from investors including Silicon Valley’s Ribbit Capital and well-known UK fund Balderton Capital. City figures such as former JPMorgan star dealmaker Ian Hannam and ex-Merrill Lynch rainmaker Matthew Greenburgh have also backed the startup.
Storonsky told BI: “We get constantly inbound requests from VCs, but because we are not fundraising at the moment we are not really concentrating on them.”
When Revolut does raise money later this year, Storonsky says it will go towards international expansion. He told BI: “Now we’re building a team of international enablers, people who will set up processes in the US, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and hire teams there, approach banks, schemes, regulators to get set up there and issue products outside of Europe.”
Revolut previously operated globally but was forced to limited operations to Europe after one of its partners said it didn’t hold the licenses to operate that broadly. The hiccup led Revolut to briefly suspend issuing new cards and pursue its own licence from MasterCard to issue cards directly.
The MasterCard licensing process has been delayed, but Storonsky told BI he is flying to New York this week and hopes to have an answer shortly.
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