Revolut introduces salary advance feature in the UK

Fintech startup Revolut is launching a new feature called Payday. It is an alternative to credit card debt and short-term credit as it lets you unlock a portion of your wage early. If a business decides to integrate with Revolut, users can then access the feature from the financial super app directly.

Right now, the feature is limited to businesses based in the U.K., but the company plans to launch it in the European Economic Area and the U.S. as well. That’s the trick — Payday isn’t going to be available to everyone who receive their salary in their Revolut account through direct deposit.

Revolut has to plug into an employer’s payroll system first so that the company knows how much employees are earning at any point in time. The fintech startup says that employers don’t have to change their payroll system, though.

Once this is done, employees can unlock a portion of their earned pay whenever they want. Users can withdraw up to 50% of what they’ve earned in advance. While the feature is free for businesses, Revolut will charge a small, flat fee to users.

“We believe in the importance of making financial wellbeing accessible to all, and this includes focusing on the impact of financial stability on employees’ mental health,” Revolut co-founder and CEO Nik Storonsky said in a statement. “After the difficulties of the past year, the last thing employees need now is financial uncertainty and stress. It is important to move away from a situation where many are dependent on payday loans and expensive short-term credit, a reliance that is exacerbated by the monthly pay cycle.“

People who live paycheck to paycheck could leverage Payday for unplanned expenses. For instances, if you have to fix your car and it cannot wait until the end of the month, you can unlock some money right away.

This isn’t debt and doesn’t affect your credit score — it’s a portion of your salary, which means that you’ll receive less money at the end of the month when you get paid.

Even if you’re not using the salary advance feature, Payday lets you see how much you’ve earned so far this month. It’s going to be interesting to see whether a lot of companies adopt the feature. With millions of users in the U.K., chances are businesses are going to learn about Payday from their own employees.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #neobank, #revolut, #tc

Crypto infra startup Fireblocks raises $310M, triples valuation to $2.2B

Fireblocks, an infrastructure provider for digital assets, has raised $310 million in a Series D round of funding that tripled the company’s valuation to $2.2 billion in just over five months.

Sequoia Capital, Stripes and Spark Capital co-led Fireblocks’ latest round, which also included participation from Coatue, DRW VC  and SCB 10X – the venture arm of Thailand’s oldest bank – and Siam Commercial Bank. The latter is the third global bank to invest in Fireblocks in addition to the Bank of New York (BNY) Mellon and SVB Capital. 

In February, the New York-based startup raised $133 million in a Series C round at a $700 million valuation. The latest financing brings Fireblocks’ total raised since its 2018 inception to $489 million. And as for Fireblocks’ valuation boost, the growth correlates with its increase in customers and ARR this year, according to CEO and co-founder Michael Shaulov. 

Since January, Fireblocks has seen its customer base increase to about 500 compared to 150 in January. Its ARR (annual recurring revenue) is also up – by 350% so far in 2021 compared to 2020. Last year, ARR rose by 450% compared to 2019.

“We expect to end the year up 500%,” Shaulov said. “We’ve already adjusted our revenue predictions for 2021 three times.”

Put simply, Fireblocks aims to offer financial institutions an all-in-one platform to run a digital asset business, providing them with infrastructure to store, transfer and issue digital assets. In particular, Fireblocks provides custody to institutional investors and has secured the transfer of over $1 trillion in digital assets over time. 

Fireblocks launched out of stealth mode in June of 2019 and has since opened offices in the United Kingdom, Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, France and the DACH region. Today, it has over 500 financial institutions as customers – a mix of businesses that already support crypto and digital assets and those that are considering entering the space. Customers include global banks, crypto-native exchanges, lending desks, hedge funds, OTC desks as well as companies such as Revolut, BlockFi, Celsius, PrimeTrust, Galaxy Digital, Genesis Trading, and eToro among others. 

Of those 500 institutions, Fireblocks is working with 70 banks that are looking to join the cryptocurrency space, and start platforming their infrastructure, according to Shaulov. Siam Commercial bank, for example, is using the company’s infrastructure to transform into a blockchain-based bank.

“Our platform creates highly secure wallets for cryptocurrencies and digital assets, where institutions can store their funds or their customer funds, and also get security insurance,” he said.

Fireblocks’ issuance and tokenization platform allows for the creation of asset-backed tokens.

“We handle all the security or compliance, all the policies and workflows,” Shaulov said. “Basically all the complicated stuff you need to do as a business when you want to start working with this new technology. So it’s a bit like ‘Shopify for crypto.’ ”

Sequoia Partner Ravi Gupta is naturally bullish on the company, describing Fireblocks as “the leading back-end infrastructure for crypto products.”

“The team has the potential to build a large, enduring business serving crypto-native companies, consumer fintech companies, and traditional financial institutions alike,” he told TechCrunch. “Their growth has been tremendous, and the quality of their product and customer sentiment are remarkable.”

Image Credits: Left to right: Fireblocks co-founders Idan Ofrat, Michael Shaulov and Pavel Berengoltz / Fireblocks

Fireblocks has also started to see businesses outside of what would be identified as fintech or finance show interest in its platform such as e-commerce websites that are looking to create NFTs on the back of their merchandise. 

The Fireblocks platform, Shaulov said, helps spread the expansion of digital asset use cases beyond bitcoin into payments, gaming, NFTs, digital securities and “ultimately allows any business to become a digital asset business.”

What that means is that Fireblocks’ technology can be white labeled for crypto custody offerings, “so that new and established financial institutions can implement direct custody on their own without having to rely on third parties,” the company says.

Shaulov emphasizes Fireblocks’ commitment to staying an independent company after a wave of consolidation in the space. Earlier this year, PayPal announced its plans to acquire Curv, a cryptocurrency startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Then in early May, bitcoin-focused Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd. said it agreed to buy BitGo Inc. for $1.2 billion in cash and stock in the first $1 billion deal in the cryptocurrency industry.

“Consolidation can be painful for clients,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s Important for us that we stay independent and that’s part of the purpose of this round.

The company will also use the funds to increase its engineering and customer success operations, and expand geographically, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.  

“Fireblocks provides the most secure and flexible platform for a wide range of customer needs,” said Sequoia’s Gupta. “It uses world-class multi-party computation technology to secure digital assets in storage and in transit, and has the most flexible platform with controls for product teams to be able to build on and manage Fireblocks effectively.”

#articles, #asia-pacific, #bank, #bitcoin, #blockchain, #blockfi, #celsius, #coatue, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #curv, #decentralization, #digital-currencies, #etoro, #finance, #financial-technology, #fireblocks, #france, #funding, #fundings-exits, #galaxy-digital, #israel, #money, #new-york, #paypal, #ravi-gupta, #recent-funding, #revolut, #saas, #sequoia, #sequoia-capital, #shopify, #singapore, #spark-capital, #startups, #stripes, #svb-capital, #tel-aviv, #thailand, #united-kingdom, #venture-capital

#Podcast – Insider #108: Revolut – Gorillas – Mayd – Klarsolar – VoiceLine – World Fund – 468 Capital – Discovery Ventures

In unserem Insider-Podcast liefern OMR-Podcast-Legende Sven Schmidt und Alexander Hüsing, Chefredakteur von, alle vierzehn Tage spannende und vor allem aber exklusive Insider-Infos aus der deutschen Startup-Szene.

Insider #108 – Die Themen

+++ Revolut: Korrektur zur letzten Ausgabe #ANALYSE
+++ Gorillas peilt interne Investmentrunde an #EXKLUSIV
+++ 468 Capital investiert in Mayd #EXKLUSIV
+++ Global Founders Capital (GFC) investiert in Klarsolar #EXKLUSIV
+++ Cavalry Ventures investiert in VoiceLine #EXKLUSIV
+++ Tim Schumacher und Daria Saharova legen World Fund auf #EXKLUSIV
+++ 468 Capital legt weiteren Fonds auf #EXKLUSIV
+++ Discovery Ventures legt Growth-Fonds auf #EXKLUSIV

Insider #108 – Der Sponsor

Die heutige Ausgabe wird präsentiert von IKEA. Wusstest du schon, dass IKEA auch Produkte und Services speziell für Unternehmen bietet? IKEA für Unternehmen macht den IKEA-Einkauf für Geschäftskunden aller Unternehmensgrößen – vom Soloselbständigen bis zum Konzern – so bequem wie möglich. IKEA bietet dabei Produkte, Lösungen und Services, die speziell für die gewerbliche Nutzung entwickelt wurden. Beim gesamten Bestellprozess hilft ein persönlicher Ansprechpartner. Bestellung sind per E-Mail oder Telefon möglich. Auf Wunsch bietet IKEA zudem auch einen Liefer- oder Montageservice an. Und wer Hilfe bei der Planung seines Büros braucht, findet beim Interior Design Service von Ikea Hilfe. Mit dem Stichwort “deutsche Startups” zahlst du nur 3 Euro anstatt 5 Euro (netto) pro Quadratmeter für deine Planung. Das Angebot gilt nur für Unternehmen und bis zum 31.08.2021. Weitere Informationen findest du unter:

Insider #108 – Der Podcast

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): ds

#468-capital, #aktuell, #cavalry-ventures-i, #discovery-ventures, #global-founders-capital, #gorillas, #insider, #klarsolar, #mayd, #podcast, #revolut, #voiceline, #world-fund

Extra Crunch roundup: Think like a VC, CockroachDB EC-1, handle your stock options

Ants and camels are famously resilient, but when it was time to select a name for a startup that offers open-source, cloud-based distributed database architecture, you can imagine why “Cockroach Labs” was the final candidate.

Database technology is fundamental infrastructure, which partially explains why it’s so resistant to innovation: Oracle Database was released in 1979, and MySQL didn’t reach the market until 1995.

Since hitting the market six years ago, CockroachDB has become “a next-generation, $2-billion-valued database contender,” writes enterprise reporter Bob Reselman, who interviewed the company’s founders to write a four-part series:

Part 1: Origin story: From the creation of the popular open-source image editor GIMP to some of Google’s most well-known infrastructure products.

Part 2: Technical design: Analyzes the key differentiation that CockroachDB offers, particularly its focus on geography and data storage.

Part 3: Developer relations and business: How CockroachDB engages with developers while pivoting to the cloud at a key inflection point.

Part 4: Competitive landscape and future: A look at the fierce competition, and what possible exit routes might look like.

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Our ongoing search for the best startup growth marketers is yielding results: reporter Anna Heim interviewed SaaS and early-stage startup marketing consultant Lucy Heskins to learn more about the mistakes her clients are most likely to make before they seek her help.

“The first is hiring a marketer too soon,” said Heskins. “I’ve come into startups thinking I was coming in to set up their in-house function. However, very quickly you realize that they’ve jumped the gun and think they’ve got product-market fit when they are nowhere near it.”

Heskins shared a few pages from her early-stage marketing playbook, in which she recommends aligning content marketing with the customer experience — as opposed to just putting pages up that score well in search results.

Because their conversation contains a lot of strategic advice for startups that haven’t yet made a marketing hire, we made it available on TechCrunch.

If you know of a skilled growth marketer, please share your recommendation in this quick survey.

Thanks very much for reading!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch

Here are 3 things you should do with your stock options

Illustration of two people walking away from a yellow wedge from a white pie.

Image Credits: z_wei (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Congratulations: You’ve joined a startup and received an Incentive stock option grant! You now own a percentage of the company, and there’s no telling how much it could be worth one day.

A few questions: Do you know your 409A valuation? What’s your strike price? Surely, you know the preferred share price and which type of options you were granted?


It’s complicated stuff, and for most ISO recipients, this may be the first time they start thinking seriously about how federal tax laws impact them personally.

To break things down, Vieje Piauwasdy, Secfi’s director of equity strategy, recently shared a post with Extra Crunch.

“If you’ve ever been confused about your equity, or haven’t thought much about it, you’re not alone.”

Where is suptech heading?

Supervisory tech is here to stay

Image Credits: Peter Dazeley (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

First of all, what is suptech?

“The emergence of purpose-built technologies to facilitate regulator oversight has, over the past few years, garnered its own moniker of supervisory technology, or suptech,” Marc Gilman, the general counsel and VP of compliance at Theta Lake, writes in a guest column.

Gilman notes that “nearly every financial services regulator is engaged in some type of suptech activity.”

But as a primer, he focused on three areas: regulatory reporting, machine-readable regulation, and market and conduct oversight.

Superhuman’s Rahul Vohra explains how to optimize your startup’s products for lasting growth

Image Credits: Superhuman

Superhuman co-founder and CEO Rahul Vohra joined us last week at TechCrunch Early Stage to provide an in-depth look at how he and his company worked to optimize and refine their product early to create a version of “growth hacking” that would not only help Superhuman attract users, but serve them best and retain them, too.

Vohra articulated a system that other entrepreneurs should be able to apply to their own businesses, regardless of area or focus.

Dear Sophie: Tell me more about the EB-1A extraordinary ability green card

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I’m a postdoc engineer who started STEM OPT in June after failing to get selected in the H-1B lottery.

A colleague suggested that I apply for an EB-1A for extraordinary ability green card, but I have not won any major awards, much less a Nobel Prize. Would you tell me more about the EB-1A?


— Bashful in Berkeley

India poised for record VC year as unicorns head for decisive IPOs

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim dialed in on India for today’s Exchange, noting that the country is a good example of the global trend of booming venture capital dollars invested.

“The country’s venture capital haul thus far in 2021 has nearly matched its 2020 total and is on pace for a record year,” they write. “But as the third quarter gets underway, something perhaps even more important is going on: public-market liquidity.”

They looked at recent venture capital results and considered what Zomato’s flotation means for the country’s IPO pipeline. Don’t miss this analysis of an explosive startup market.

How to navigate an acquisition without alienating your current employees

Office workers walking in a line down street carrying office equipment

Image Credits: Peter Cade (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are encouraging the world to reopen, two trends are underway:

In the first half of 2021, mergers and acquisitions increased by more than 150% YOY to $2.4 trillion; in several surveys, an overwhelming majority of workers said they intend to seek employment elsewhere.

If your startup is angling toward an exit, the promise of a big payday may not be enough to retain employees who feel burned out or dissatisfied.

Many founders don’t have prior management experience, and, frankly, the uncertainty associated with an exit makes it a poor time for on-the-job learning. With that in mind, here are several communication strategies that can help you keep your winning team intact.

Emergence Capital’s Doug Landis explains how to identify (and tell) your startup story

Image Credits: TechCrunch/Emergence Capital

How do you go beyond the names and numbers with your startup pitch deck? For Doug Landis, the answer is one simple compound gerund: storytelling. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot of late in Silicon Valley, but it’s one that could legitimately help your startup stand out from the pack amid the pile of pitches.

Landis joined the TechCrunch Early Stage: Marketing and Fundraising event to offer a presentation about the value of storytelling for startups, whittling down the standard two-hour conversation to a 30-minute version.

Though he still managed to rewind things pretty far, opening with, “400,000 years ago, men and women used to sit around the fire pit and tell stories about their day, about their hunt, about the one that got away.”

Khosla’s Adina Tecklu breaks down how to nail your pitch

Image Credits: Khosla Ventures

We kicked off our TechCrunch Early Stage 2021: Marketing and Fundraising event with a deep dive on all the tips and tricks required to get the most out of pitching and slide decks. On hand was Adina Tecklu, a principal at Khosla Ventures, and who formerly built out Canaan Beta, the consumer seed practice at Canaan Partners.

We talked about the importance of knowing your customer (aka your potential investor), focusing on story, typical slides in a deck, the appendix slides, formatting, and then alternative formats and which to avoid in a pitch deck.

What impact will Apple’s buy now, pay later push have on startups?

News that Apple plans to get into the buy now, pay later game had Alex Wilhelm wondering about the impact on startups in the space.

Shares of public competitors Affirm and Afterpay dropped on the news, but it doesn’t mean a death knell for those looking to jump into the BNPL game, Alex notes.

“Provided that Apple’s BNPL solution is rolled out over time to the same markets where Apple Pay is present, the … company could consume market shares — and therefore oxygen — from generalized rival BNPL services,” he writes.

“Those startups building more niche or targeted solutions will likely enjoy some shelter from the competitive storms.”

How to make the math work for today’s sky-high startup valuations

So how does the math work out for all these startups with minimal revenue, tons of cash and sky-high valuations?

Alex Wilhelm ran through the numbers, explaining why the current state of the venture capital market makes sense for startups and investors alike.

“Today we can make super-expensive startup math work out, provided that growth rates stay generally strong and public-market multiples stay rich,” he writes in The Exchange. “If the latter dips, the former has to improve, and vice versa.”

Norwest’s Lisa Wu explains how to think like a VC when fundraising

GettyImages 921469686

Image Credits: Getty Images / Rawpixel

At the TechCrunch Early Stage: Marketing and Fundraising event last week, Norwest Venture Partners‘ Lisa Wu took the stage to discuss how founders can think like venture capitalists in all facets of their business.

The overlapping in job roles is uncanny: The best investors and founders have to find focus through the noise, understand the weight of due diligence and pitch others with conviction.

Wu used anecdotes and exercises — such as the eyebrow test — in the tactical, engaging chat.

Revolut’s 2020 financial performance explains its big new $33B valuation

Alex Wilhelm weeds through Revolut’s 2020 financial results again to determine if the U.K.-based consumer fintech player’s $33 billion valuation makes sense.

“The picture that emerges is one of a company with a rapidly improving financial image, albeit with some blank spaces regarding recent customer growth,” he writes.

How we got 75% more e-commerce orders in a single A/B test for this major brand

Baby Bottle Filled With Coins Against White Background

Image Credits: Abdullatif Omar/EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Jasper Kuria, the managing partner of The Conversion Wizards, breaks down how the CRO consultancy ran an A/B test to boost the conversion rates of a multibillion-dollar company.

“Radical redesigns that incorporate a large number of variables (instead of single-element tests) are more likely to provide substantial gains,” Kuria writes. “Another advantage to doing this is it requires much less time and traffic for your tests to reach statistical significance.”

Here’s a rundown of all the changes that led to a 75% bump in orders.

#adina-tecklu, #cockroach-labs, #doug-landis, #ec-roundup, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #khosla-ventures, #lisa-wu, #lucy-heskins, #mysql, #rahul-vohra, #revolut, #secfi, #startups, #supervisory-technology, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage-2021, #theta-lake, #venture-capital

#Podcast – Insider #107: Revolut – – Kaia Health – SimplyDelivery – Aware – BetterTogether – climatiq – Ostrom – Zenstrom – Denario – Atlas Metrics – Mistho

In unserem Insider-Podcast liefern OMR-Podcast-Legende Sven Schmidt und Alexander Hüsing, Chefredakteur von, alle vierzehn Tage spannende und vor allem aber exklusive Insider-Infos aus der deutschen Startup-Szene.

Insider #107 – Die Themen

+++ Neu-Unicorn Solarisbank sammelt 160 Millionen ein – Bewertung: 1,36 Milliarden (Post-Money) #EXKLUSIV
+++ FinTech Revolut steigt zum Decacorn auf. Bewertung: 13 Milliarden Dollar #EXKLUSIV
+++ Point Nine und Index Ventures investieren in #EXKLUSIV
+++ Hedosophia ist der unbekannte Kaia Health-Investor #EXKLUSIV
+++ Cusp Capital investiert in SimplyDelivery #EXKLUSIV
+++ Cherry Ventures investiert in Aware. Gründer: Florian Meissner, Ramzi Rizk (beide EyeEm) #EXKLUSIV
+++ Cherry Ventures investiert in BetterTogether. Gründer: Lorenz Aschoff (EyeEm) und Dimitrio Ploutarchos (Keatz) #EXKLUSIV
+++ Cherry Ventures investiert in climatiq (Patch-Klon) #EXKLUSIV
+++ 468 Capital investiert in Ostrom (Bulb-Klon) #EXKLUSIV
+++ Swoboda-Brüder starten Bulb-Klon Zenstrom #EXKLUSIV
+++ 468 Capital investiert in Denario (Melio-Klon) #EXKLUSIV
+++ Global Founders Capital investiert in Atlas Metrics #EXKLUSIV
+++ Flash Ventures investiert in Mistho #EXKLUSIV

Insider #107 – Der Sponsor

Die heutige Folge wird präsentiert von Lendis, Eurem Partner für digitales Workplace-Management. Bei Lendis mietet Ihr die gesamte Technik und Büroausstattung, die Ihr zum Arbeiten benötigt und könnt diese ganz einfach über die Lendis-Plattform digital verwalten. Ganz egal ob für das Homeoffice, das Office oder beides. Der Lendis-Service funktioniert so, dass Ihr zunächst in der Lendis Plattform das Sortiment konfiguriert, dass Ihr Euren Mitarbeiter*innen anbieten wollt, z.B. Laptops, Smartphones und Büromöbel. Eure Mitarbeiter*innen können sich dann einfach bei Lendis einloggen und das bestellen, was sie haben möchten. Lendis übernimmt die Lieferung und Montage – bis ins Wohnzimmer Eurer Mitarbeiter*innen. Wenn Ihr neues Equipment braucht, Euch vergrößert oder alte Geräte austauschen wollte, dann ist Lendis definitiv der richtige Partner für Euch. Schaut Euch Lendis doch einfach selbst einmal an unter an. Mit dem Gutscheincode Deutsche-Startups bekommt ihr dort die ersten zwei Monatsmieten geschenkt.

Insider #107 – Der Podcast

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): ds

#aktuell, #atlas-metrics, #aware, #bettertogether, #climatiq, #denario, #incident-io, #insider, #kaia-health, #mistho, #ostrom, #podcast, #revolut, #simplydelivery, #solarisbank, #zenstrom

$100 million… Leta Capital wants to be a friend to Russia-speaking founders everywhere

It’s become increasingly obvious over the last few years, as Vladimir Putin has tightened his grip on his country, that Russian entrepreneurs who want to engage properly with the rest of the world have had to leave their mother country. Gone are the days when a startup in Russia might attract attention from many Western investors. The same, alas, is true of Russian-speaking Belorussians, many of whom have left the country after brutal crackdowns there. Ukraine’s economy also remains sub-par due to the ongoing Russian aggression in the East of the country. So it’s fallen to enterprising Russian-speaking investors in and outside Russia to work out the best ways to harness the obvious talent out there.

Leta Capital makes a play of investing in Russian-speaking entrepreneurs based just about anywhere. It’s now launching its third and largest fund to date and says it will invest over $100 million in UK, European, and US-based growth-stage tech companies over the next three years. Its focus will be Seed/ Round A / Round B investments. It intends to invest in the range of $2-5 million and will be focused on software, IT, and internet technologies

The new fund will to hone in on East European and Russian-speaking entrepreneurs. Particularly those operating out of international hubs such as London and New York.

Leta’s founder and former tech entrepreneur Alexander Chachava says Russian-speaking startups based abroad are often – these days – over-looked and under-valued by Western VCs and investors, and I dare say he’s right. Prejudice isn’t just about skin color, as we all know.

Chachava says his fund has invested over $45 million to date since 2012, going into 30 technology companies including Synthesis AI, Unigine, InDriver, NovaKid (which I covered last year) and 365Scores.

Exits include the sale of Bright Box HK to Zurich Insurance Group in 2017, and WeWork’s acquisition of sales and marketing platform Unomy.

Chachava said: “While we are significantly broadening our geographic focus towards key global hubs, our strategy effectively remains the same: to identify exciting, high-potential technology start-ups and entrepreneurs, and support them in realizing their international ambitions.”

Chachava says his own research suggests there are in excess of 17,000 Russian-speaking and East European tech entrepreneurs and start-ups active in the UK, Europe, and US.

“Our analysis shows they continue to be undervalued and overlooked for funding, despite often generating significant cash when it comes to ARR. These entrepreneurs are some of the most dynamic and technically skilled in the world, and for investors, they represent a massive untapped opportunity.”

He has a point. Significant businesses such as Telegram, Revolut, TradingView, PandaDoc, and Preply were all started by Russian speakers who are emigres from their respective Russian-influenced countries.

Leta says its first “evergreen” fund of $15 million was fully deployed in early 2020, delivering a gross IRR of 27% per annum to investors. Its second $50 million fund had its first closing in September 2018 and has committed about 60% of its capital, says the company.

Leta will invest out of an entity in the Cayman Islands, but doesn’t plan to have an office right now, and nor will it need it to invest.

As Chachava told me over a Zoom call: “The last two years, we have not been not traveling too much, our work has been downgraded to Zoom calls. But before that, we spent a couple of months in the US, a couple of months in Western Europe. I was a frequent visitor to London but I don’t think we need space anymore in our modern world.”

#365scores, #articles, #business, #cayman-islands, #economy, #entrepreneur, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #indriver, #leta-capital, #london, #new-york, #revolut, #russia, #tc, #technology, #ukraine, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #wework

Extra Crunch roundup: SaaS founder salaries, break-even neobanks, Google Search tips

Usually, a teacher who grades students on a curve is boosting the efforts of those who didn’t perform well on the test. In the case of cloud companies, however, it’s the other way around.

As of Q1 2021, startups in this sector have median Series A rounds around $8 million, reports PitchBook. With $100+ million Series D rounds becoming more common, company valuations are regularly boosted into the billions.

Andy Stinnes, a general partner at Cloud Apps Capital Partners, says founders who are between angel and Series A should seek out investors who are satisfied with $200,000 to $500,000 in ARR.

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Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription.

Usually a specialist firm, these VCs are open to betting on startups that haven’t yet found product-market fit.

“At this phase of development, you need a committed partner who has both the time and the experience to guide you,” says Stinnes.

These observations aren’t just for active investors: This post is also a framework for new and seasoned founders who are getting ready to knock on doors and ask strangers for money.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch

Maybe neobanks will break even after all

Alex returned from a week of vacation with a dispatch about the profitability of neobanks Revolut, Chime and Monzo.

“In short, while American consumer fintech Chime has disclosed positive EBITDA — an adjusted profitability metric — many neobanks that we’ve seen numbers from have demonstrated a stark inability to paint a path to profitability,” he writes.

“That could be changing.”

How to land the top spot in Google Search with featured snippets in 2021

Image of colorful scraps of torn paper to represent snippets.

Image Credits: IngaNielsen / Getty Images

“Google search is not what it used to be,” Ryan Sammy, the director of strategy at growth-marketing agency Fractl, writes in a guest post. “We all want to be No. 1 on the search results page, but these days, getting to that position isn’t enough. It might be worth your while to instead go after the top featured snippet position.”

Sammy writes that earning the featured snippet spot is “one of the best things you can do for your SEO.” But how do you land your page in the coveted snippet perch?


What does Red Hat’s sale to IBM tell us about Couchbase’s valuation?

Image Credits: Getty Images

After noSQL provider Couchbase filed to go public, joining the ranks of the Great IPO Rush of 2021, Alex Wilhelm looked into its business model and financial performance, with a goal of better understanding the company — and market comps.

Alex used Red Hat, which recently sold to IBM for around $34 billion, as a comp, determining Couchbase “is worth around $900 million” if you use the Red Hat math.

“The Red Hat-Couchbase comparison is not perfect; 2019 is ages ago in technology time, the database company is smaller and other differences exist between the two companies,” Alex notes. “But Red Hat does allow us the confidence to state that Couchbase will be able to best its final private valuation in its public debut.”

How much to pay yourself as a SaaS founder

Piggy bank With a Money Carrot stick

Image Credits: AlenaPaulus (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Anna Heim interviewed SaaS entrepreneurs and investors to find out how much early-stage founders should pay themselves.

Startups run by CEOs who take home a small salary tend to do better over the long run, but there are other points to consider, such as geography, marital status, and frankly, what quality of life you desire.

Waterly founder Chris Sosnowski raised his own pay to $14/hour last year; at his prior job, his salary topped $100,000.

“We had saved money up for over a year before we cut out my pay,” he told Anna. “I can live my life without entertainment … so that’s what we did for 2020.”

How much are you willing to sacrifice?

The early-stage venture capital market is weird and chaotic

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim had been hearing that Series A raises were coming later, while Series Bs were coming in quick succession after startups landed an A.

That piqued their curiosity, so they put feelers out to a bunch of investors to understand what’s going on in early-stage venture capital markets.

In the first of a two-part series, Alex and Anna examine why seed stage is so chaotic, why As are slow, and why Bs are fast. In their first dispatch, they looked at the U.S. market.

Have you worked with a talented individual or agency who helped you find and keep more users? Respond to our survey and help us find the best startup growth marketers!

#advertising-tech, #alex-wilhelm, #chime, #couchbase, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #ibm, #information-technology, #red-hat, #revolut, #saas, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Equity Monday: China hates crypto, and the Vision Fund’s vision lives on

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

Our live show is this week! And we’re very excited about it! Details here, and you can register here. It’s free, of course, so swing by and hang with us.

Back on theme, we had a lot to get through this morning, so inside the show you can find the following and more:

  • The Chinese cryptocurrency clampdown is a big damn deal: With lots of the nation’s mining capacity heading offline, there’s a scramble to relocate rigs and generally figure out what a crypto market sans China might look like.
  • In the wake of the news, the value of cryptocurrencies fell. As did shares of Coinbase this morning in pre-market trading.
  • Facebook’s Clubhouse rival is out. The American social giant follows Spotify into the live-audio market. You have to give it to modern software companies, who thought that they could be both leading tech shops and Kinko’s clones at the same time?
  • Revolut is unprofitable as hell but increasingly less so. That could be good news for fintech as a whole.
  • Amber Group raised $100 million; Forto raised $240 million.

See you this Thursday at the live show!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#audio, #china, #clubhouse, #coinbase, #crypto, #cryptocurrencies, #equity-monday, #equity-podcast, #facebook, #fintech, #forto, #fundings-exits, #neobank, #revolut, #spotify, #startups, #stock-market, #vision-fund

Revolut revenue grew by 57% in 2020

Fintech startup Revolut has filed some financial results and is sharing details with the press. In 2020, the company reported $361 million in revenue (£261 million) — that’s a 57% increase compared to 2019 revenue of $229 million (£166 million).

Interestingly, those revenue figures have been adjusted to include fair value gains on cryptocurrency assets — it means that Revolut holds some crypto assets on its balance sheet. Revolut made $54 million (£39 million) in fair value gains on cryptocurrency assets.

Gross profit reached $170 million (£123 million) last year. At the same time, the company still reports operating losses. In particular, Q1 2020 was a particularly bad quarter with $76 million (£55 million) in adjusted operating loss.

In 2020, total non-adjusted operating loss reached $277 million (£200.6 million). Like many tech companies, administrative expenses are responsible for this loss. With a staff of 2,200 people, the company spent $367 million (£266 million) on administrative costs alone. But things seem to be improving as you can see:

Image Credits: Revolut

These trends aren’t that surprising as I reported that fintech startups spent most of 2020 focusing on profitability and improving their margins. At the end 2020, Revolut had 14.5 million personal customers and 500,000 companies using Revolut Business.

“As the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 drove the trend towards digital financial management we continued to innovate for customers to make their financial lives easier and accelerate daily use. We launched 24 new retail and business products, expanded into the US, Japan and Australia and launched banking services in Lithuania, all while significantly improving our profitability,” founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky said in a statement. “We began 2021 with a more resilient and productive business that will enhance our trajectory towards rapid growth.”

When you compare Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, things are radically different for the fintech company. Revenue increased by 130% year-over-year and gross profit grew by 300% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021.

Revolut has been launching a ton of products to diversify its sources of revenue. It is increasingly becoming a financial super app with current accounts, debit cards, trading services, insurance products, premium subscriptions, cryptocurrency trading and more.

Interestingly, interchange revenue from card transactions represents a good chunk of the company’s revenue. In 2020, cards and interchange generated $131 million (£95 million) in revenue. Every time a Revolut customer makes a card purchase, the card scheme (Visa or Mastercard) gives back some fees to Revolut. It’s an incredibly small percentage-based fee, but it can add up when you generate millions of purchases.

Foreign exchange and wealth generated $111 million (£80 million) in revenue. That’s another big one. And finally, subscriptions, such as Revolut Plus, Revolut Premium and Revolut Metal, accounted for $104 million (£75 million) in revenue.

Those are three strong pillars that all contribute to the company’s bottom line. They all represent a bit less or a bit more than a third of the company’s overall revenue.

Image Credits: Revolut

While the company has expanded aggressively over the years, the U.K. is still by far its biggest market. In 2020, 88.4% of the company’s (non-adjusted) revenue was related to its activities in the U.K. The European Economic Area without the U.K. represented 10.2% of revenue. The U.S., Japan, Australia and other markets were nearly negligible.

Revolut has also raised a mega round of funding in 2020 — a $500 million Series D round that was extended to $580 million in total. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company launches an initial public offering within the next 12 months.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #neobank, #revolut, #startups

Revolut applies for bank charter in the US

London-based fintech startup Revolut has announced that it is applying for a bank charter in the U.S. The company has submitted a draft application with the FDIC and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

If the company manages to get a charter in California, it would let the company operate throughout the U.S. as an independent bank. The discussions are still ongoing, which means it could take a while before the authorities grant a charter to the company.

After obtaining a charter in the U.S., Revolut could start offering more financial services. In particular, it would open up more opportunities when it comes to lending and savings products.

Right now, Revolut partners with Metropolitan Commercial Bank in the U.S. — they handle your deposits and they are insured by the FDIC. They also issue cards for Revolut.

In the U.S., Revolut is also launching Revolut Business. These accounts let a company send and receive international payments more easily. Companies can also use the service for payments with virtual and physical debit cards. Revolut Business is available across all 50 states. There are 500,000 companies using Revolut Business in Europe.

Revolut currently has 15 million customers for its financial super app — most of them are in the U.K. and the European Union. The company recently announced that it was applying for a banking license in the U.K., its home country and its biggest market. In Europe, Revolut has a specialized license from the Bank of Lithuania — some customers are already moving their account to Revolut Bank.

Revolut isn’t the only fintech startup applying for a bank charter in the U.S. Last month, Brex announced that it would apply for a bank charter in Utah. Varo Bank also obtained its own bank charter last year.

It proves that leveraging another bank’s charter is great for growth. But at some point, if you want to launch new products and generate more revenue from those products, you have to get your own charter.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #neobank, #revolut, #startups

Fraud prevention platform Seon raises a $12M Series A round led by Creandum

Seon, which lets online businesses fight online fraud like fake accounts has raised a $12 million Series A round led by Creandum, with participation from PortfoLion, part of OTP Bank. The funding appears to be one of Hungary’s larger series A rounds to date.
Seon is a fraud-detection startup that establishes a customers’ ‘digital footprint’ in order to weed out false accounts and thus prevent fraudulent transactions. Clients include Patreon, AirFrance, Rivalry and Ladbrokes Launched in 2017, the company claims to bave been profitable since the end of 2019, after experiencing growth through working with neobanks, esports, gaming, Forex, and crypto trading throughout the rapid digitization brought on by the pandemic.

SEON’s CEO and Founder, Tamas Kadar, said in a statement: “We’re extremely pleased to have completed our latest funding round, led by Creandum, joining its exciting tech portfolio. We feel we have found a like-minded investor to work closely with to pursue the significant global opportunity for our business as we continue to democratize fraud fighting.”
Simon Schmincke, general partner at Creandum, said: “At Creandum, we believe cybercrime will be one of the most serious threats of the 21st century. With SEON, we’ve found an anti-fraud solution that’s effective, affordable, flexible, intuitive, and clearly proves its ROI.”
Gábor Pozsonyi, partner at PortfoLion Capital Partners, added: “Seon is a fundamentally useful brand: it offers a solution to one of the greatest challenges of digitalization, not only saving hundreds of millions of euros for its partners but making the internet a safer place.”

SEON are seen as competing with Emailage, Iovation, Threatmetrix. However, SEON’s thesis is that social media is a great proxy of a legitimate user vs bot/fake fraudster, so it looks heavily at social accounts to weed out fraudsters.

As part of the funding round, Seon has brought on board the following investors as shareholders: N26 founders, Maximilian Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf; SumUp founders Stefan Jeschonnek and Jan Deepen; Tide CEO Laurence Krieger; Revolut ex-CFO Peter O’Higgins; iZettle ex-chief Product Officer Leo Nilsson; Onfido cofounder Eamon Jubawy, and ComplyAdvantage founder Charlie Delingpole.

#ceo, #cfo, #charlie-delingpole, #cofounder, #europe, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #general-partner, #hungary, #izettle, #laurence-krieger, #mobile-payments, #n26, #onfido, #online-fraud, #online-payments, #partner, #patreon, #portfolion, #revolut, #social-media, #tc, #threatmetrix, #tide

Revolut lets customers switch to Revolut Bank in 10 additional countries

Fintech startup Revolut has its own banking license in the European Union since late 2018. It lets the company offer some additional financial services without partnering with third-party companies. And the company is going to let customers switch to Revolut Bank in 10 additional countries.

The Bank of Lithuania has granted a specialized license — it isn’t a full-fledged license per se as it focuses on some activities. The company is taking advantage of European passporting rules to operate in other European countries. Right now, Revolut takes advantage of its banking license in two countries — Poland and Lithuania.

In Lithuania for instance, you can apply for a credit card with a credit limit that’s twice the value of your monthly salary (up to €6,000). The company also offers personal loans between €1,000 and €15,000. You can pay back over 1 to 60 months.

Now, customers in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia will be able to become Revolut Bank customers. It’s not a transparent process as you need to get through a few steps to carry your account over.

But once this process is done, your deposits are protected under the deposit guarantee scheme. If Revolut Bank shutters at some point down the road, customers can claim up to €100,000 thanks to the scheme — both euros and foreign currencies are protected.

You can expect new credit products in the 10 new markets. Overall, Revolut has attracted 15 million customers. The company recently announced that it was also applying for a banking license in the U.K., its home country and its biggest market.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #neobank, #policy, #revolut, #startups

ETH spin-off LatticeFlow raises $2.8M to help build trustworthy AI systems

LatticeFlow, an AI startup that was spun out of ETH Zurich in 2020, today announced that it has raised a $2.8 million seed funding round led by Swiss deep-tech fund btov and Global Founders Capital, which previously backed the likes of Revolut, Slack and Zalando.

The general idea behind LatticeFlow is to build tools that help AI teams build and deploy AI models that are safe, reliable and trustworthy. The problem today, the team argues, is that models get very good at finding the right statistical patterns to hit a given benchmark. That makes them inflexible, though, since these models were optimized for accuracy in a lab setting, not for robustness in the real world.

“One of the most commonly used paradigms for evaluating machine learning models is just aggregate metrics, like accuracy. And, of course, this is a super coarse representation of how good a model really is,” Pavol Bielik, the company’s CTO explained. “What we want to do is, we provide systematic ways of monitoring models, assessing their reliability across different relevant data slices and then also provide tools for improving these models.”

Image Credits: LatticeFlow

Building these kinds of models that are more flexible yet still provide robust results will take a new arsenal of tools, though, as well as the right team with deep expertise in these areas. Clearly, though, this is a founding team with the right background. In addition to CTO Bielik, the founding team includes Petar Tsankov, the company’s CEO and former senior researcher and lecturer at ETH Zurich, as well as ETH professors Martin Vechev, who leads the Secure, Reliable and Intelligence Systems lab at ETH, and Andreas Krause, who leads ETH’s Learning & Adaptive Systems lab. Tsankov’s last startup, DeepCode, was acquired by cybersecurity firm Snyk in 2020.

It’s also worth noting that Vechev, who previously co-founded ETH spin-off ChainSecurity, and his group at ETH previously developed ERAN, a verifier for large deep learning models with millions of parameters, that last year won the first competition for certifying deep neural networks. While the team was already looking at creating a company before winning this competition, Vechev noted that gave the team the confirmation that it was on the right path.

Image Credits: LatticeFlow

“We want to solve the main AI problem, which is making AI usable. This is the overarching goal,” Vechev told me. “[…] I don’t think you can actually found the company just purely based on the certification work. I think the kinds of skills that people have in the company, my group, Andreas [Krause]’s group, they all complement each other and cover a huge space, which I think is very, very unique. I don’t know of other companies who have covered this range of skills in these pressing points and have done groundbreaking work before.”

LatticeWorks already has a set of pilot customers who are trialing its tools. These include Swiss railways (SBB), which is using it to build a tool for automatic rail inspections, Germany’s Federal Cyber Security Bureau and the U.S. Army. The team is also working with other large enterprises that are using its tools to improve their computer vision models.

“Machine Learning (ML) is one of the core topics at SBB, as we see a huge potential in its application for an improved, intelligent and automated monitoring of our railway infrastructure,” said Dr. Ilir Fetai and Andre Roger, the leads of SBB’s AI team. “The project on robust and reliable AI with LatticeFlow, ETH, and Siemens has a crucial role in enabling us to fully exploit the advantages of using ML.”

For now, LatticeFlow remains in early access. The team plans to use the funding to accelerate its product development and bring on new customers. The team also plans to build out a presence in the U.S. in the near future.

#artificial-intelligence, #btov-partners, #deep-neural-networks, #deepcode, #emerging-technologies, #global-founders-capital, #latticeflow, #machine-learning, #recent-funding, #revolut, #siemens, #snyk, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #zalando

Revolut applies for UK banking license

It’s hard to believe that fintech startup Revolut doesn’t have a proper banking license in its home country. But this is about to change as the company has applied for a banking license in the U.K. Up next, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are going to look at the application.

Revolut already has a banking license in the European Union. The Bank of Lithuania has granted a license and the company is taking advantage of European passporting rules to operate in other European countries.

It is slowly starting to offer its own banking products in Europe. Revolut is testing a credit offer in two European markets.

Revolut dubs itself as a financial super app. After you create an account, you get an e-wallet and a debit card. You can send and receive money, hold money in your account and use your card for in-store and online purchases.

Over the past few years, Revolut has greatly expanded beyond that simple premise. You can buy cryptocurrencies, stocks and commodities. You can set money aside in a vault. You can get travel and mobile phone insurance products.

Some of these features have been developed in house. Other features have required partnerships with other fintech companies. While you can do a lot of things with your Revolut account, it’s still not technically a bank in the U.K.

It has been great when it comes to growth, but it can be limiting when it comes to revenue opportunities and product offering. If Revolut gets a banking license, the company will be able to offer full-service current accounts with overdrafts and loans in the U.K. Revolut could also offer credit cards.

Customers will also be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If Revolut becomes a bank and disappears, customers are protected up to £85,000 per person.

Revolut currently has 13 million customers and a valuation of $5.5 billion. While the company doesn’t break down its user base based on markets, the U.K. represents one of the most important markets for the company.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #neobank, #revolut, #startups

Revolut launches mid-tier subscription plan

Fintech startup Revolut is tweaking its subscription plans with a new mid-tier offering called Revolut Plus — it costs £2.99 per month. Like N26 Smart and Monzo Plus, the new plan is a pandemic-proof package that doesn’t focus as much on travel.

For the past couple of years, challenger banks and alternatives to traditional bank accounts have been packaging additional services into paid plans. Essentially, those fintech startups are slowly becoming freemium software-as-a-service companies.

The majority of users don’t subscribe to paid plans. But a small portion is willing to pay a fixed monthly fee to access advanced features, get an insurance package and pay less in variable fees.

Revolut already has two paid plans — Premium and Metal. Premium increases limits on free ATM withdrawals and foreign exchange. You also get overseas medical insurance, delayed baggage and flight insurance and winter sports coverage. You can also access advanced features, such as disposable virtual cards and Revolut Junior accounts

With a Metal plan, your insurance package is a bit more thorough, with purchase protection and car hire excess. You get a tiny bit of cash back on purchases (0.1% in Europe, 1% outside of Europe capped at the monthly subscription price) and higher limits across various products.

Another big selling point has been card designs. With the Metal plan, as the name suggests, you get a metal card. It’s not that useful but some people like it. Premium subscribers can also choose between premium card designs.

Revolut Premium costs £6.99 per month and Revolut Metal costs £12.99 per month (or €7.99 and €13.99, respectively in Europe). You pay a bit less if you pay upfront for a year.

So what is Revolut Plus? It costs £2.99 per month, which makes it a lot more affordable than Revolut Premium. The main selling point is purchase protection provided by Qover. All paid plans now get purchase protection with different limits on damaged or stolen goods (up to £1,000, £2,500 and £10,000 depending on your plan). You can get a refund on purchases up to 90 days after buying eligible products. If you book a ticket and your event is cancelled, you could also get a refund.

In addition to a new card design, Revolut Plus subscribers can also use virtual cards. You can also create junior accounts with the new mid-tier plan.

As you can see, there’s no overseas travel insurance. You also don’t get unlimited free currency exchange (other than spread). Revolut Plus is focused on people who mostly use their Revolut account in their home country.

Revolut is also tweaking other plans, so it’s going to be important to check the terms and conditions before you renew your paid plan. The new Plus plan is available today in the U.K. and will be rolled out next week in the European Economic Area.

Image Credits: Revolut

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #neobank, #revolut, #startups, #tc

Revolut lets businesses accept online payments

Fintech startup Revolut is launching its own acquiring solution. With this move, the company is competing directly with Stripe, Adyen, Braintree or This is an in-house product and not just a fresh coat of paint on an existing solution.

As a reminder, Revolut already offers business accounts. It lets you send and receive international payments, exchange funds in multiple currencies. You can also order debit cards to spend money from your Revolut account directly.

With Revolut’s acquiring solution, the company is going one step further as you can now accept card payments from your customers. Revolut supports 14 currencies and settle payments on your Revolut Business account the next day.

When it comes to fees, you get a small allowance of free card payment processing fees depending on your plan. Above that limit, you pay 1.3% on card transactions from customers based in Europe and the U.K. For other cards, you pay 2.8% on all transactions — there’s no free allowance.

This is slightly cheaper than Stripe, which costs 1.4% + £0.20 for European cards and 2.9% + £0.20 for non-European card. Of course, companies like Stripe have been optimizing their payments infrastructure for many years. Right now, Stripe supports more payment methods, more currencies, advanced fraud prevention features, etc.

After you’ve created your merchant account, Revolut offers plugins for WooCommerce, Prestashop and Magento already. You can also use the Merchant API to add a checkout widget on your custom website.

If you’re a freelancer and you just need to send a couple of invoices per month, you can also generate payment links. The recipient can then pay from a web page hosted by Revolut.

The main advantage of Revolut’s acquiring solution is that it’s integrated with Revolut Business. You can see payments and banking in the same interface, you don’t need to alternate between your Stripe account and your bank account to reconcile transaction data.

It could work particularly well for B2B businesses that don’t handle a ton of transactions and don’t want to set up a separate payments solution. Let’s see what customers think of the API when they start using it.

Online payments are available for business customers in the U.K., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The rest of the European Economic Area should get the feature soon.

#europe, #finance, #fintech, #revolut, #startups

Revolut launches early salary feature in the UK and web app

Fintech startup Revolut has two new features this week. First, the company is launching a web app for its regular users — not just business users. Second, in the U.K., Revolut has partnered with Modulr to let you receive your salary a day early.

Revolut has historically focused its efforts on its mobile app. If you have a business account with Revolut, you know that you can see your past transactions and access your account from a regular web browser. But the company’s 13 million customers couldn’t access their account from a computer.

Everyone can now head over to Revolut’s web app and sign in to view their transaction history and cards. From this interface, you can freeze and unfreeze a debit card and control card features. The web app also supports account top-ups using a bank transfer, a card payment or Apple Pay (in Safari).

By default, Revolut sends a push notification so that you can authorize web browser access. But if you’ve lost your phone, you can also choose to receive a security code via email.

You’ll still have to use the mobile app to access some features, but it’s a start.

As for users living in the U.K., Revolut is doubling down on its partnership with Modulr to send your salary a bit early. Salaries made over the Bacs payment scheme will arrive a day earlier than usual — most people are paid using this method in the U.K. This is all about optimizing payment infrastructure, and it could be particularly helpful before a long holiday weekend.

This should also benefit Revolut directly as many users have been using Revolut in addition to a regular bank account. Adding features that make it easier to ditch your bank account could boost the company’s usage numbers. And that could help the company grow its card interchange fees, subscription revenue and other sources of revenue.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #revolut, #startups

Looking to emulate Venmo, JoomPay preps a Euro launch for easy bill splitting and cash payments

JoomPay, a startup with a similar product to PayPayl-owned Venmo in the US, is set to launch in Europe shortly after being granted a Luxembourg Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license. The app allows people to send and receive money with anyone, instantly and for free. “Venmo me” has become a common phrase in the US, where people use it to split bills in restaurants or similar. Venmo is in common use in the US, but it’s not available in Europe, although dozens of other innovative mobile peer to peer transfer options exist, such as Revolut, N26, Monese and Monzo. The waitlist for the app’s beta is open now.

Europe leads the world’s instant payments industry, with $18 trillion in worldwide volume predicted by 2025 up from $3 trillion in 2020 – a growth of over 500%. Western Europe – and COVID-19 – is now driving that innovation and will account for 38% of instant payment transaction value by 2025. While Europe lacks simple peer-to-peer payments solutions such as Venmo or Square Cash App in the US, challenger banks have stepped up to provide similar kinds of services. JoomPay’s opportunity lies in being able to be a middle-man between these various banking systems.

Shopping app Joom, which has been downloaded 150M times in Europe, has spun-off JoomPay to solve this problem. The app allows users to send and receive money from any person, regardless of whether they use JoomPay or not – and you only need to know their email or the phone number. JoomPay connects to any existing debit/credit card or a bank account. It also provides its users with a European IBAN and an optional free JoomPay card with cashback and bonuses.

Yuri Alekseev, CEO and co-founder of JoomPay, said: “Since COVID-19 started, we’ve seen a significant decline in cash usage. People can’t meet as easily as before but still need to send money, and we offer a viable alternative.”

JoomPay may have an uphill struggle. Its main competitors in Europe are the huge TransferWise, Paysend, and of course PayPal itself.

#banking, #europe, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #mobile-payments, #monzo, #n26, #online-payments, #paypal, #peer-to-peer, #revolut, #tc, #united-states, #up, #venmo

Revolut lets you track your subscriptions, adds savings bonus in the US

Fintech startup Revolut has rolled out a handful of additional features over the past few days. The financial app lets you track all your subscriptions that you pay with your Revolut account or your card. In the U.S., Revolut is adding a savings bonus based on your purchasing habits. Finally, business customers can now order metal cards.

Let’s start with subscription tracking. For customers in Europe, Revolut is trying to make it easier to stay on top of your various subscriptions. Direct debit or card transactions are automatically marked as recurring. You can also manually mark transactions as subscriptions in case they aren’t automatically marked.

After that, you can see all your recurring payments from the app and check how much you’re spending with each merchant. If you spot a subscription that you completely forgot, you can block it — future payments will be declined.

And if you don’t have a lot of money on your account, you receive a notification warning you that a subscription payment is coming up. Subscriptions can be accessed from the Payments tab under Scheduled.

If you have multiple bank accounts, some users might switch their payment information to their Revolut card just to keep all their subscriptions in Revolut. It could boost usage.

4.5% bonus on savings accounts in the U.S.

In some markets, Revolut offers savings vaults. As the name suggests, those sub-accounts let you put some money aside and earn interest. You can round up card transactions and save spare change in a vault, you can set up weekly or monthly transactions or you can transfer money manually whenever you want.

In the U.S., customers earn 0.25% annualized percentage yield (APY) with their savings vaults. If you pay for a premium subscription, you get 0.5% APY with a Revolut Premium or Revolut Metal plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you get a generous bonus on top of your normal interest rate. Revolut calculates how much you spent with your Revolut debit card the previous month. That amount is eligible for a 4.5% APY bonus.

For instance, if you spent $400 with your card last month and you have $500 in your savings vault, you’ll receive the 4.5% bonus on $400. You’ll also earn 0.25% to 0.5% on the entire savings vault.

If your savings vault balance is lower than how much you spent with your card last month, your entire vault is eligible for the bonus. Interests are calculated daily using an annualized rate and paid out the first business day of the following month.

Once again, the new feature should boost engagement in the U.S. for both card transactions and savings vaults. Revolut has 13 million customers in total, including 150,000 in the U.S.

Metal cards for business customers

People care about metal cards. That’s why many fintech startups now offer expensive monthly plans with metal cards — N26, Bunq, Curve and Revolut.

But Revolut Business customers have been limited to plastic cards (or virtual cards). If you use Revolut Business for your company, you can now order metal cards depending on your plan.

Revolut Business customers with a free account or a freelancer account can’t order metal cards. Customers on the Grow, Scale or Enterprise plans receive one, two or five metal cards respectively.

And if you want to order more metal cards, it costs £49 per card. You can choose a card among five different colors — black, gold, rose gold, space grey and silver.

Other than a new look, metal cards don’t differ from standard cards. It’s a small perk that you get with a paid plan. Revolut has managed to attract 500,000 customers for its Revolut Business product.

#apps, #challenger-bank, #finance, #fintech, #mobile, #neobank, #revolut, #startups

Crypto exchange Bitpanda closes $52M Series A from Valar Ventures, backed by Peter Thiel

Bitpanda, a crypto assets platform, has closed a $52 million Series A funding round form Valar Ventures, a venture capital firm backed by Peter Thiel. Vienna-based VC Speedinvest also participated, alongside other unnamed investors. Claiming 1.3 million users, Bitpanda has previously been trading digital assets and tokenizing precious metals.

The Vienna-based company will use the cash to expand internationally. It expanded to France, Spain and Turkey in 2020 and plans to enter additional European markets this year and next. It has 300 employees.

Essentially, Bitpanda is a crypto exchange which can support other kinds of assets in a tokenized form. To date, it’s not very well known or used in the Crypto world.

What this represents is an interesting move by a crypto exchange, effectively expanding into real-world assets. At the other end of the spectrum, platforms like eToro, Robinhood and Revolut, which came from traditional assets world, and are now adding Crypto world assets. Eventually, the two will meet, in some shape or form.

Bitpanda is a centralized exchange with its own infrastructure, and is not running on a public blockchain. Other centralized exchanges include Coinbase, Kraken, Binance, Kucoin and Huobi.

As part of the investment, Valar Ventures founding partner, Andrew McCormack, will also join Bitpanda’s board. McCormack was previously with PayPal in its early years and supported Peter Thiel during its IPO and eventual sale to eBay in 2002. Valar has previously invested in European fintechs including Transferwise and the Germany-based digital bank, N26.

#binance, #coinbase, #ebay, #etoro, #europe, #finance, #france, #kraken, #mobile-payments, #money, #n26, #online-payments, #paypal, #peter-thiel, #revolut, #spain, #tc, #transferwise, #turkey, #valar-ventures, #venture-capital, #vienna

Revolut launches its financial app in Japan

Fintech startup Revolut is expanding to Japan. After testing the service with 10,000 users, anybody can now sign up and open an account. The company originally obtained its authorization to operate from Japan’s Finance Service Agency in 2018.

When you open an account, you get an electronic wallet and a Visa debit card. You can top up your account and spend money with your card, a virtual card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc. Revolut sends you instant notifications and lets you freeze and unfreeze your card from the app.

You can also send money to other Revolut users or a bank account. Like in other countries, Revolut lets you exchange money in the app and send money in other currencies. Many users have taken advantage of the service to travel and pay less in foreign exchange fees.

Users in Japan will also be able to create vaults and put some money aside by rounding up transactions and creating recurring transactions. And that’s about it for now.

The company has already launched premium plans in Japan, but it doesn’t give you a lot of benefits other than lower fees on foreign exchange, different card designs, better support and the ability to buy airport lounge access with LoungeKey Pass.

Unlike in the U.K. and Europe, you won’t be able to buy cryptocurrencies, trade stocks, buy insurance products, create Revolut Junior accounts for your children, etc. Revolut is really trying to build a super app in its home country and has massively expanded its feature set over the years.

The company promises that some features, such as cryptocurrency and stock trading, will be available globally. But there’s no release date just yet. So let’s see how the product evolves in the coming months.

Revolut is currently available in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., Singapore and Australia. It currently has 13 million customers.

Image Credits: Revolut

#finance, #japan, #revolut, #startups

Revolut loses its head of regulatory compliance, hires two former Amazon execs

More personnel changes at Revolut are in motion, as a key member of the leadership team leaves for Barclays, and two former Amazon staffers join the London-headquartered neoank, including a new chief operating officer.

TechCrunch understands that Chris Sing, Revolut’s head of regulatory compliance is leaving to take up the position as Barclays’s new chief of staff to the group chief compliance officer. He joined Revolut in December 2018 and has spent a little under two years at the multi-unicorn fintech.

In a gamekeeper-turned-poacher styled career move, prior to Revolut, Sing was a manager at U.K. regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). During his long stint at the FCA, he also did a secondment at incumbent bank Santander.

Revolut have confirmed Sing’s departure, whose direct responsibilities are being taken on by group head of compliance assurance, Harinder Gill, until a replacement is recruited.

Noteworthy, though not surprising given that Revolut is no longer an early-stage startup, Sing adds to a number of senior staff that have departed in recent months. Most high profile is Richard Davies, CEO Bankng, who left to join Allica Bank as CEO. Another is Andre Muhammad, head of trading — destination unknown (although we can be sure it isn’t Freetrade).

Meanwhile, Revolut is on the verge of announcing two senior hires from Amazon, TechCrunch has learned. They are Steven Harman, who joins as the neobank’s new group COO; and Jim McDougall, who becomes Revolut’s new chief people officer. Harman was most recently Amazon’s VP of continental europe customer fulfillment, and McDougall held the position of director or HR services transformation.

The key operational hires and departure of Revolut’s head of regulatory compliance come at an interesting time for the neobank. The company raised a $580 million Series D at a $5.5 billion valuation in the spring. It also made some cost cutting measures, including a plethora of layoffs in a bid to shore up finances amid the current economic downturn/coronavirus crisis.

#revolut, #tc

Crowd equity platform Seedrs opens up its existing secondary market to any business

Seedrs — the UK’s first full-function private equity secondary market to launch back in 2017 — is launching its secondary market offering to all private businesses. The idea is that this will allow founders, employees and early investors to realize secondary liquidity without having to wait for an IPO or exit event. Seedrs has offered secondary shares on its platform for the last three years, but previously this was only open to those already working directly with Seedrs .

Investors will now be able to list their shares directly on the Secondary Market in a “direct listing” and sell to the Seedrs investor network; sell their shares via a “secondary campaign” to a community of customers and existing shareholders, or sell via a “private listing” and access the Seedrs network of institutional investors and funds.

To date, Seedrs has raised a total of $40 million in funding from investors, including Augmentum Fintech and Schroders plc (formerly Woodford Investment Management). The platform’s most notable exits include Pod Point, Wealthify, and FreeAgent .

Prior to this opening up, the Seedrs Secondary Market was running at 22,000 secondary transactions and has been averaging £500k/month in secondary trades over the last 6 months. In 2020, Revolut shareholders sold over £1.5m in shares at a 598% average profit on the market. The Secondary Market service has now added dynamic pricing to allow shares to be sold at price premiums and discounts.

Earlier this year Seedrs and Capdesk created a joint initiative whereby any business listed on Capdesk could sell shares and adjust the cap table via Seedrs marketplace.

Jeff Kelisky, CEO at Seedrs said in addition to primary raises, the company is adding 30 new companies to the Secondary Market every month.

“Access to secondary liquidity is increasingly critical in the private company investment ecosystem, especially in the current climate, where we are seeing businesses staying private for longer. As we build out our full-scale marketplace for private equity investment, we see secondaries in private businesses as an essential and expected ingredient in the investment journey,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Seeds says it has seen an increased demand from investors wanting to use the Secondary Market and fielded more inquiries from private businesses and their shareholders wanting to access it.

Online child safety startup SafeToNet, has been the first to launch its secondary campaign. It secured a £2.5M primary funding round from 150 investors, followed by an additional £300,000 in secondaries made available from its founders and employees.

In a statement Richard Pursey, co-Founder of SafeToNet said: “We were delighted after hitting our £2.5M fundraising target so quickly, to be able to offer more investors a chance to join our community via a secondary share sale. It’s really important for us to provide an exit opportunity to some of our existing shareholders, while also continuing the growth journey of SafeToNet as an independent business. This has also been a great way for us to welcome new investors on board, building up our customer community with passionate brand advocates, without having to part with any additional equity.”

Speaking exclusively, co-founder and Chairman Jeff Lynn told Techcrunch: “It’s something we’ve been working on for a while. We were letting people do secondary trading off the back of campaigns where we’d already done the primary. Now we’re starting to work with companies that haven’t done anything with us, to help facilitate secondaries for some of their early investors and employees. The demand and interest has been super high.”

“I think it’s probably indicative of the evolution ecosystem as we now get to the point where a lot of that wave of tech businesses that were funded the first part of 2010 are still growing, doing well, but not necessarily an IPO, so there’s a lot of desire for early investors to get some liquidity and we’re trying to offer that.”

He noted that competitor Crowdcube has been helping companies facilitate secondary offerings, but that Seedrs was also doing direct listings on the secondary market, “so we’re allowing investors from companies to come in and simply sell shares directly through the secondary market without ever doing the full campaign. And we’re also baking it into our institutional product. So bringing, bringing secondary offerings into what we call our anchor investor service, which allows a puts deals in front of a range of about 350 institutional quasi-institutional investors.”

Globally the secondary market, especially for tech companies, has been growing as private equity service providers consolidate.

#ceo, #co-founder, #corporate-finance, #crowdcube, #economy, #europe, #finance, #freeagent, #initial-public-offering, #investor, #money, #private-equity, #revolut, #safetonet, #secondary-market, #seedrs, #startup-company, #tc, #united-kingdom

Revolut extends Series D round to $580 million with $80 million in new funding

Fintech startup Revolut just announced that it has raised $80 million as part of its Series D round that it had already announced in February. The new influx of funding comes from TSG Consumer Partners.

In February, Revolut raised a $500 million led by TCV at a $5.5 billion valuation. Today’s new funding extends that funding round to $580 million — the company says the valuation remains the same.

If you’re not familiar with Revolut, the company is building a financial service to replace traditional bank accounts. You can open an account from an app in just a few minutes. You can then receive, send and spend money from the app or use a debit card. Revolut also lets you exchange currencies.

The startup expanded beyond that simple feature set and now wants to become a financial hub, a super app for all things related to money. For instance, you can insure your phone, get a travel medical insurance package, buy cryptocurrencies, buy shares, donate to charities and save money from Revolut.

The company says it’ll use the investment to add new features in the U.S. and roll out banking operations across Europe — you can expect local banking details in multiple European countries. Eventually, Revolut also plans to offer credit products across Europe.

In addition to that, Revolut is also working on a subscription management tool. It lets you see all your active subscriptions, cancel them from Revolut and receive alert when a free trial ends.

There are now 12 million registered users on Revolut.

#challenger-bank, #europe, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #neobank, #revolut, #startups

Robinhood, the stock trading app, postpones UK launch ‘indefinitely’

Robinhood, the U.S.-based stock trading app, is postponing its U.K. launch “indefinitely,” more than a year and a half after the company begun executing on plans to cross the pond. It now intends to refocus its efforts on its home market.

In November last year, a U.K. waitlist was opened up, garnering 250,000 signups. That’s now in vain, with Robinhood shutting down the U.K. website and promising to delete customer email addresses in line with local privacy regulation. Prospective customers who registered were informed of the decision earlier this morning.

Commenting on the u-turn, a Robinhood spokesperson issued TechCrunch with the following statement:

“A lot has changed in the world over the past few months, and we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our UK launch indefinitely. As a company, we are refocusing our efforts on strengthening our core business in the US. We know many people in the UK were excited to invest through Robinhood, and we regret that we cannot deliver our product to UK customers in 2020. Although our global expansion plans are on hold for now, we’re committed to democratising finance for more people around the world. We look forward to the day when we can bring this mission to the UK.”

I also understand that Robinhood plans to transfer a number of U.K. staff to core U.S. team projects where possible and says it will support others to help transition into new jobs. A core team will remain at Robinhood U.K. for the time being.

Meanwhile, Robinhood’s withdrawal from the U.K. is likely good news for U.K. upstart competitors. They include Freetrade, Bux and Revolut. As Yahoo News notes, it also comes amid a spew of bad publicity for the stock trading app, after the the reported suicide of 20-year-old American Alex Kearns, who mistakingly believed he had run up debt of almost $750,000 trading complex options on Robinhood.

#finance, #revolut, #robinhood, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states

(How to fix) 5 common UX mistakes in online banking

Customer support is a huge part of a user’s experience, and one that every bank likes to say they’re great at. But there is a lot we can learn from the mistakes that U.K. banks have made.

Based on his latest research report into the user experience of a dozen leading British banks — including Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Monzo, Starling and Revolut — Built for Mars founder Peter Ramsey shares his top five UX tips for customer support.

We dive deeper into each tip, including discussing the thorny topic of call decision trees (press 1 for … press 2 for … etc.), which Ramsey advises should be depreciated in the age of mobile apps, how push notifications might be employed to provide a more Disney-like queuing experience, why hold music is bad as a concept and why it’s time to ditch the live chat bait and switch.

Get rid of call decision trees

Call decision trees are annoying to use and unnecessary for users who have access to an app. Instead of asking customers to navigate via their telephone’s numeric keypad, use in-context questions inside the app, and then put the full number, including the correct extension, behind a button.

TechCrunch: Perhaps we should clarify what you mean by “call decision trees” and — considering they’ve been an industry standard for years — why is now the time to get rid of them?

Peter Ramsey: The decision tree is that automated “press 1 for … press 2 for … ” process you sometimes have to go through at the beginning of a call. I should clarify: It’s not time to eradicate them entirely, because it’s pretty useful for people who only use telephone banking. But for anyone who has access to an app, it’s totally unnecessary.

#argos, #barclays, #ecommerce, #europe, #extra-crunch, #finance, #financial-services, #fintech, #hsbc, #market-analysis, #monzo, #peter-ramsey, #revolut, #startups, #tc, #usability, #ux