A pair of reports last week painted a negative picture of UK-based finance startup Revolut. Wired described a workplace where turnover and toxic behavior is rife, while The Telegraph says that the company had turned off a system designed to prevent money laundering for three months in 2018, something that Revolut denies.
Revolut is the company behind a finance app that allows users to transfer money to one another, exchange different types of currencies and cryptocurrencies, and issues a debit card. Founded in 2015 in London, it describes itself as an alternative to traditional banking by doing away with fees, and says that it has more than 4 million customers who have transferred more than £25 billion across 250 million transactions. The service hasn’t launched yet in the US — the company says on its website that that’s coming, and has a waitlist for interested users.
Wired’s report outlines some of the growing pains that seems too familiar with startups working to grow at all costs. It details a company with a 24/7 work mentality and managers who set exceedingly high goals for its staff — and which will abruptly fire employees who fall below expectations. The report details a culture of work-at-all costs and burnout, and notes that a survey of former employees revealed that most didn’t last more than a year.
The report also detailed how prospective employees were presented with a test — sign up 200 people in a week, in order to be considered for a followup interview, which Wired notes “might go against governmental recommendations.” Revolut didn’t answer Wired’s questions about its workplace culture, but did say in a statement that its “culture is evolving as rapidly as our business.”
More damning is a pair of reports from The Telegraph, which says that the company turned off automated systems that worked to stop money laundering and illegal transfers between July and September last year. The company launched an investigation last year when a whistleblower notified the board of directors, which concluded that the “original decision to turn off the transaction-halting mechanism was erroneous and implied a remediable systems and controls failing.” The Telegraph also says that the company’s CFO resigned in January, although Revolut says that it was unconnected to the incident.
In a blog post on its website, Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky pushed back against The Telegraph’s report, saying that it had rolled out a “more advanced sanctions screening system,” which didn’t work as expected. He also says that the company has reviewed all of the transactions that occurred during that period, and that no money laundering had occurred.