Revolut: what is the UK-based tech business, why does it have a £24b valuation - and comparison to other banks

Japanese group Softbank’s Vision Fund and US investment firm Tiger Global Management were the main companies behind the funding injection

Revolut has become the most valuable private tech business in the UK, with a valuation of £24 billion.

The London-based banking app, which processes digital payments and currency exchanges, secured £578 million in its latest funding round.

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Japanese group Softbank’s Vision Fund and US investment firm Tiger Global Management were the main companies behind the cash funding injection.

Revolut was founded in 2015 by former investment banking trader Nikolay Storonsky and software developer Vladyslav Yatsenko. (Pic: Shutterstock)

Here's all you need to know about Revolut - from its humble beginnings to why it is valued so highly and how its value compares to high street banks.

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What is Revolut?

Revolut was founded in 2015 by former investment banking trader Nikolay Storonsky and software developer Vladyslav Yatsenko.

British-Russian entrepreneur Storonsky is an economics graduate from the New Economic School in Moscow and a former Lehman Brothers trader.

Irked by foreign transaction fees and exchange rate commissions while travelling he wanted a multi currency card, and founded Revolut with Yatsenko.

It secured funding early on and in October 2019 announced a global deal with Visa to help it expand into 24 markets, and hire thousands of additional staff.

It became profitable in late 2020 and a lot of its early success is thought to have come through the crypto currency markets, offering global services.

Why does it have such a high valuation?

It's record breaking valuation comes after both Softbank and Tiger Global Management investment groups both acquired a 5% stake in the start up.

Revolut said it will use the funds raised to invest in product development and marketing, particularly as it expands its footprint into the US and India and other international markets.

It is also hiring to boost its 2,000-strong workforce by more than 50% worldwide, including in London.

Revolut has more than 16 million users worldwide and saw losses in excess of £200 million in 2020, which it attributed to hiring more staff.

Storonsky, co-founder and chief executive of Revolut, said: “SoftBank and Tiger Global’s investments are an endorsement of our mission to create a global financial superapp that enables customers to manage all their financial needs through a single platform.

“This funding round makes Revolut the UK’s most valuable fintech, demonstrating investors’ confidence that we can deliver products that raise the bar for customers’ expectations across the whole financial services industry.”

Chief financial officer Mikko Salovaara added: “It doesn’t really affect the timetable for any potential listing. I think eventually we’ll be a public company, but have no immediate plans to list.”

How does it compare to high street banks?

Revolut is known as a fintech - a combination of the words finance and technology - rather than a tradition bank, but has applied for a UK banking licence.

It uses computer programmes and technology software to enable and support banking and financial services through it's digital platforms, such as apps.

It has surpassed the valuation of NatWest (£23.3 billion) and is the most valuable financial technology firm.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak welcomed the fundraising news, saying: “We want to see even more great British Fintech success stories like Revolut.”