THE CHIEF executive of unicorn digital bank Revolut has urged the UK government to create specialised visas for technology professionals to bridge the skills gap and protect the fintech sector post-Brexit.
Revolut co-founder and former Credit Suisse trader Nik Storonsky (pictured) warned that longer immigration processes and red tape could stymie the industry’s growth because there is a “lack of homegrown talent”, so a fast-tracked visa scheme is needed to keep London at the heart of global fintech.
The London-based fintech company, which is now valued at $1.7bn (£1.3bn), recruits 70 per cent of its technical staff from overseas and plans to double its UK workforce in the coming months.
“When I settled in London 13 years ago, I found a community that didn’t care where you came from,” the Russia-born executive said.
“They were only interested in who you were and what you had to offer. It was at this point that I knew London would be the city that I would call home, and the city where I would go on start my own business.
“Right now, there is no doubt in my mind that London is the best place to build and grow a fintech start-up. However, there is a serious lack of homegrown technical talent here, which is why around 70 per cent of our software engineers and data scientists are recruited from abroad.
“With all the political uncertainty kicking off right now, lengthy immigration processes and bureaucracy will only slow down the UK fintech industry’s growth and we risk losing out on the best talent to other EU countries such as Germany and France.
“In my mind, we need to apply pressure on the UK government to introduce fast-track visas for technology professionals, particularly in the areas of software development and data science. Such a move will give a much-needed boost to the UK skills market and allow UK-based tech companies, such as Revolut, to create more jobs and scale our operations globally.”
Revolut has become one of the UK’s fastest-growing fintechs since launching in 2015. It now has four million customers with more than 10,000 new accounts being opened daily. It processes $7bn in transaction volumes each month, up from $4bn per month in July 2018.
The firm is set to launch into seven new international markets and is developing new products including a commission-free trading platform, a robo-adviser and an app for children.
“We are targeting 50,000 new accounts in Europe each day by the end of the year, and we’ll need to double our workforce here in London if we’re to achieve this goal,” said Storonsky.
He added the group aims to gather support among the UK tech sector and start discussions with relevant government departments over the visa scheme.
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