A Lithuanian talent helping to grow the ‘hooligan of banking’ discusses life in a fast-growing Fintech
Revolut, a London-based Fintech start-up known in some quarters as the ‘hooligan of banking’, has grown both its client base and its staff in recent years: and its 90-strong team features Lithuanian talent. One of them, the company’s Head of Business Development Andrius Bičeika, spoke to Lithuanian news outlet DELFI on his work in the company.
Revolut came to prominence across the European Union when it started distributing free payment cards and sending them free through the post, though this latter service has since become paid. Customers can make free money transfers from bank accounts to their Revolut account and to other Revolut clients. Currency is mainly converted at the official exchange rate, plus you can withdraw up to £200 from cash machines. In fact, previously even larger amounts could be withdrawn.
– You are one of two Lithuanians working for Revolut. When did you join the company?
– I have used Revolut from its establishment, from the very beginning. I joined the company at the beginning of this year. It’s not a long time, but having seen how quickly the company changes, three months already seems like three years. I am now responsible for a newly released product for businesses, which is currently being tested in a closed beta version. In total, 40 companies are participating in this testing, several of them Lithuanian.
– Do you live in London or Lithuania?
– I work in London. I worked in London before as well, for Euromonitor International and TransferGo. But I fly to my family in Vilnius every weekend. If everything goes well, I think my family will have to move here.
– When did you move to London?
– Five years ago, but I also studied in the UK, in Nottingham. Although there are plenty of work opportunities in Lithuania, both with start-ups and established companies, I chose London. This was mainly to use my skills to their full extent and be able to apply everything I learnt during my studies, and also not to lose my language skills.
My current career at Revolut is the most demanding springboard into global waters that is possible, as long as my age and health allow it (laughs).
– Are you the only Lithuanian-speaker in the company?
– No, there is also Valdas. He was one of the company’s very first engineers. We communicate in Lithuanian. Altogether there are people from 17 different countries in the company, including Russia, Ukraine, India, Poland, Canada, Switzerland and Spain. There are about 100 employees in total.
We have three offices: in London, Krakow and Moscow. The registered office, plus the anti-terrorist and anti-money laundering division, the business development division and the finance division are located in London. IT, engineering and design are handled in Moscow, and Poland hosts the client service division.
– What makes your work at Revolut special?
– Since there are only 100 people in the company, we must put in twice the effort and work harder than our rivals. Our workdays last 14-16 hours rather than 8. Clearly, speed is a key factor for success. But in London, an 8-hour work day is almost unheard of. The pace is enormous; when I return to Vilnius, it feels like I am returning to a quiet homestead where it is calm and feels good.
– Is this why you mentioned that you can work so hard only as long as your health allows?
– Yes, as long as my health is good, because obviously health is the most important thing. But in the world of start-ups, most employees are young, fast and technical. This is, perhaps, why young people can work long hours. For now, they don’t see any impact on their health.
In the world of start-ups, I guess the average age is no more than 30. But in the corporate world in the UK the average age is higher. Interestingly, corporations in Lithuania have teams who are between 5-7 years younger than corporations here.
– Was it difficult to get a job at Revolut?
– Of course, because at this stage the company cannot afford to employ just anybody and waste time on training. It needs people who can start working straight away, from the very first day. We cannot waste either people, or the company’s time for training. I specialize in international business development. I have worked for 10 years in this field.
Still, I must say that the in-depth courses I took in science and mathematics paid off. I think that Lithuania has good capital in the IT area relative to others, though it would be good to have some more specialists.
– When do you plan to introduce the product you’re currently testing?
– The business product has been prepared extensively, and it should be ready for launch in the summer, maybe sooner. It depends on feedback from companies and added functionality.
The financial solutions and payments start-up Revolut was set up in July 2015 in London. Its founder and manager Nikolay Storonsky, who has experience with Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers, established the business after encountering problems abroad when carrying out simple financial transactions or withdrawing money.
And Mr Storonsky will be in Vilnius speaking at the LOGIN technology and innovation festival, which takes place on 24–26 May. The event opens with the LOGIN Startup Fair on 24 May, held at Vilnius Tech Park, a tech and startup hub set in the 9,000 square meters of historic parkland. The festival will continue on 25 and 26 May, with events held in a variety of locations across the city.