53 Degrees North interviews James Gibson, former Oliver Wyman Consultant, and 1 year into his role in Business Development at Revolut, in their brand new office in Canary Wharf, between all of the established international banks, right in the heart of Europe’s financial centre.
2 million – how many? – Yes, 2 million
Revolut’s user base has increased by 1.3 million people in the past 3 years, growing from 70.000 to 2 million worldwide, fuelling its newly acquired status as an official unicorn. What growth!! (That deserves two exclamation marks). For those who don’t know Revolut, it is worth taking a look at their webpage (www.revolut.com). Otherwise, here is a short summary: once you sign up, you receive a pre-paid debit card with a multi-currency account, which allows to you withdraw, send and receive money all around the world at the interbank exchange rate. No rip-offs with lousy exchange rates like traditional banks. It’s a real all-in-one. You can even buy Bitcoins via their app.
Expansion – Listen to your customers
James Gibson is in charge of business development for Revolut’s business product. Contrary to popular perception, the corporate B2B opportunity is significant and Revolut have already signed up 60 000 subscriptions since the product launched a little over a year ago. With its platform geared towards providing live updates and analytics, finance teams will be able to monitor employee spend like never before! As James mentioned, it’s become a bit trickier to expense 3am Sunday morning McDonalds.
But there is competition! Two rising neo-banks Monzo and N26 both offer similar services. Revolut’s competitive advantage lies in its multi-currency account feature, with IBAN’s for Dollars, Euros and Pounds. Monzo and N26 still rely on partnerships with Transferwise to manage their foreign exchange. When asked how Revolut will continue to differentiate, James said, “Everyone in the office has some sort of idea of what they think would be the coolest thing to have on Revolut, and the temptation is that you just go with whoever shouts the loudest… I think that’s a mistake.. listening to your customers and actually thinking about what they need and what they want is much more powerful.”
Expectations are that customers want Revolut to be a business bank that is as slick as possible. “You don’t even want to think about the banking processes anymore, you just want it to be seamless”.
Additionally they are planning international expansion to Japan, US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, countries chosen predominantly because of their regulatory landscape, customer base and proportion of Expats.
This expansion is aided by a customer support team in Krakow and a development team in Moscow, covering most tasks in-house. “But much more talent is needed, especially developers” James says. London provides a great talent pool, but many more people with technical skills will be required in the future. “We don’t really have that many people with consulting and strategy background in our company”.
For James, working at Revolut is incredibly refreshing. Things move much faster than in his old job and less hierarchy is in place. “You get ownership”, he says, “and you get to work on things that people actually use, which is very satisfying.” Although, we all know and have heard about this significant difference from a start-up to a big corporate, it is always very encouraging to hear that!
And finally, our two wacky questions…
…If Revolut was an animal what would it be? “a Rhino, a big and fast animal that can shake up the Financial Services Industry with his horn…”
…And if you can hire anyone in the world for Revolut who would it be? “Elon Musk, a guy, who thinks big, is bold and has the tech knowledge to support his ideas…”