Bank frustration

Revolut founder attacks UK over red tape and tax

Nik Storonsky: ‘It’s hard to do business in the UK’

UPDATE 9 MAY: Tensions over the cost of doing business in Britain have risen further after the head of Europe’s most valuable fintech company said the country was suffering from “extreme bureaucracy” and high taxes.

Nikolay Storonsky, chief executive of Revolut, which is based in London and chaired by Scottish financier Martin Gilbert, accused regulators of frustrating delays in granting its application for a banking licence.

He said he would never choose the UK as a place to list the company if it decided to undertake such a process. His comments prompted Kemi Badenoch, the UK Business Secretary, to seek a meeting with the firm amid fears it could leave Britain.

Mr Storonsky said: “It’s hard to do business in the UK: the exchange is much less liquid so I just don’t see the point.

“In the UK there are higher taxes to pay and an extremely bureaucratic regulator.”

He added that he wanted to keep Revolut in private ownership but said it would choose the Nasdaq in the US over London if it were to go public.

Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilberrt: chairs the bank

Revolut was valued at $33bn (£26bn) in 2021 after funding from global tech investors SoftBank and Tiger Global.

In an interview with The Times at the Web Summit conference in Rio, Mr Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko, chief technology officer, said that although there was a lot of talk by the government about promoting Britain as a science and technology superpower, there was “very little action” especially compared with the United States.

Mr Storonsky said there was a much more supportive environment in the US whose tech champions are promoted.

Speaking of his experiences in the UK, he said: “We have experienced a slowing down. You never know what needs to be done here.”

He said Revolut’s two-year attempt to secure a banking licence had been a “long and tiring process”. 

“You wait for emails or letters for months. This is not the business environment to operate in the modern world,” he said.

The Prudential Regulation Authority, which grants banking licences, did not comment.

On Tuesday, the Financial Conduct Authority announced proposals to overhaul the City’s listing regime and bring its rules more in line with the US, just weeks after UK tech darling Arm snubbed the LSE in favour of New York.

Last week, the video games giant Activision accused Britain of being “closed for business” after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked its sale to Microsoft.

Mr Storonsky’s comments will be seen as a concern for those who see the fintech sector as a key to economic growth. The sector has been in fast-growth mode but will be frustrated by obstacles that force companies to pursue their ambitions outside the UK.

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