Investors are pumping $66 million USD into fintech startup Revolut, which plans to offer cryptocurrency services starting next week. The London-based company wants to expand into North America and Asia — and also hold a crowdfund.
Bloomberg reported that Revolut will allow its users to hold, exchange and spend cryptocurrency balances — giving bitcoin, litecoin and ether as examples.
Leading the two year-old company is ex-Credit Suisse trader Nikolay Storonsky. Adding cryptocurrencies is a significant move for a startup that has so far offered mainstream consumer-focused financial services.
Cryptocurrencies got only the briefest mention in Revolut’s own announcement on the raise, in a list of new features including stock-buying. But Storonsky highlighted it when speaking to Bloomberg, saying adding cryptocurrency services “is a big step forward for a financial organization.”
Contributing to the $66 million raise were Index Ventures, Balderton Capital and Ribbit Capital.
In another unorthodox move, Revolut will also launch a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise an additional 4 million GBP ($5.18m USD). It follows a similar campaign to raise 1 million GBP last year, which drew in 10,000 investors and was 1000 percent oversubscribed.
The company will offer priority access to the crowdfund to its “Revolut Premium” account holders. These accounts also offer faster access and support, and fewer limits.
Hitting up customers and fans for an extra few million might seem strange for a company that appears to have no problem raising VC money. However Revolut wants to maintain a grassroots-ish, less corporate image that acknowledges its customers’ role. Storonsky said in April:
“Given that our growth has been driven entirely from word-of-mouth referrals, our customers have been just as instrumental in our success as our institutional investors.”
It’s also a good PR move, he added, to promote the Premium account option.
Revolut centers around its mobile apps and accounts that also feature international payment cards with no added currency conversion fees. Similar to PayPal, it allows users to hold balances in most major world currencies and offers payment requests, expense tracking and other features aimed at daily spending habits.
Customers’ money is stored in accounts at third-party “traditional” banks like Lloyds and Barclays.
Revolut’s branding also signals a desire to move away from banking’s classic image, with pastel colors and designer packaging. With its connections and reputation, it will be interesting to see if the company can offer something new to the cryptocurrency world as well.
Have you ever used Revolut? Would you? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Revolut, LinkedIn