Revolut appoints new UK CEO as British banking license is still pending

Revolut, the fintech giant based in the U.K., has appointed a new CEO for its U.K. division. Francesca Carlesi will be in charge of Revolut’s division in its home country — Nik Storonsky remains the CEO of Revolut Ltd.

It’s worth noting that today’s news comes as Revolut still doesn’t have a banking license in the U.K. after years of back and forth with British regulators. The company applied for a U.K. banking license back in 2021.

According to Companies House, Carlesi is the new chief executive of Revolut NewCo UK. This is the same entity that has applied for a U.K. banking license.

Before joining Revolut, Carlesi was a banking executive at Barclays and Deutsche Bank. She worked for McKinsey and Bridgepoint Capital as well. She also co-founded and headed Molo, a fintech startup focused on online mortgages. In particular, Molo uses real-time data validation to make credit decisions instantly after you apply.

Carlesi will start at Revolut in December and replace James Radford. Interestingly, Radford stepped down from his role as U.K. CEO of Revolut back in March.

It took Revolut eight months to find a replacement for this role, indicating that Revolut is either moving carefully or that it’s a difficult position. Today’s news also comes a few days after Kitty Ussher, former economic secretary to the Treasury and a former MP, resigned from the board of Revolut’s U.K. division.

Ussher is joining Barclays as a managing director in charge of strategic policy development. “Obviously my new role means I must also, with equal sadness, step down from my role as a non-executive director on the UK subsidiary board of Revolut at the end of this month. I have loved being on that rocket ship for the last four plus years, have worked with incredibly talented people and have no doubt that the organisation has a very exciting future,” Ussher wrote earlier this week on LinkedIn.

Growing pressure

“With nearly eight million customers in the U.K. and a diversified product offering, [Revolut] is at the forefront of change in financial services. There are so many growth opportunities and I couldn’t be more excited to be leading the way for the U.K.,” Carlesi said in a statement.

Revolut currently has 35 million customers, with Romania, Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe growing at a rapid pace. But the U.K. remains Revolut’s biggest market.

While Revolut still waits for its banking license in the U.K., the story is a bit different in Europe as Revolut obtained a banking license from the Bank of Lithuania several years ago. It is officially a bank that offers local account numbers thanks to passporting rules across the European Union.

A banking license is essential in order to offer new products and reassure customers about Revolut’s internal processes and its ability to manage risk.

For instance, Revolut offers personal loans in France but not in the U.K. Similarly, Revolut offers credit cards in Ireland but not in the U.K.

Even more important than Revolut’s future product lineup, the fact that the company has been struggling to obtain its license is slowly becoming a concern for the company’s existing and future customers.

At the same time, with 8 million customers, the Bank of England is well aware that Revolut is a sensitive topic. It can be difficult to revoke a banking license once it’s been granted. In other words, there’s growing pressure on both sides.