Revolut rocked by compliance and culture criticisms
Revolut’s chief financial officer has resigned as the digital challenger faces questions over its compliance systems.
Peter O’Higgins, who joined the bank in 2016 after 12 years at JP Morgan, quit the company at the start of the year, Revolut confirmed to The Telegraph.
Revolut adds that O’Higgins’ resignation was unconnected with concerns raised over compliance.
The situation for Revolut is not looking great at present, as it has been accused of violating basic banking rules by failing to block thousands of potentially suspicious transactions on its platform.
Documents seen by The Telegraph show that for three months last year Revolut switched off an automated system designed to stop dubious money transfers.
As a result, thousands of illegal transactions may have passed through the start-up’s digital banking system between July and September of 2018. (In August 2018, Revolut felt the wrath of customers locked out of its fee-free currency service due to an anti-money laundering [AML] crackdown.)
Revolut launched an internal investigation in late 2018 after a whistleblower contacted Revolut’s board over serious issues with its sanctions screening system.
In an emailed statement to FinTech Futures, Nik Storonsky, founder and CEO of Revolut, says: “The article refers to a systems enhancement project that we were rolling out in parallel with our existing systems and controls. The more technologically advanced sanctions screening system was just one part of the overall enhancement project. Like any technology company, we always seek to improve our systems. The new systems were not calibrated to a standard that we would expect, so we reverted to our existing process until calibration was complete.”
He adds: “At no point during this time do we believe that we failed to meet our legal or regulatory sanctions requirements. A thorough review has been undertaken of the transactions that were processed, which has confirmed that there were no sanctioned transactions. At no point did we formally notify the FCA [UK’s Financial Conduct Authority].”
On top of this situation, Wired revealed that former Revolut employees have some unkind words about the work culture.
The individuals say Revolut’s high-speed growth has come at a high human cost – with unpaid work, unachievable targets, and high-staff turnover.
In an emailed statement to Wired, a company spokesperson wrote: “Our culture is evolving as rapidly as our business.”
The firm emphasised that in the last year the company had grown from 150 to 750 people, with staff turnover of less than 2.6%, and that 40% of its staff was female.
Wired did an analysis of the start and end dates of 147 former Revolut employees on LinkedIn. This suggests that over 80% had lasted less than a year, and over half stayed at the company for less than six months.
Amidst all this bad news, let’s not omit Revolut’s ambitions outlined in January.
Storonsky unveiled his plan to build a global licensing team that will be responsible for securing banking, trading and credit licences. The firm will look at new and existing markets, starting with the UK and the US.
It got its European banking licence in December 2018, and its Singapore and Japan licences in November 2018.