Thapelo Moloantoa
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Thapelo Moloantoa

Journalist at Finbuzz.com
Highly experienced Digital Content Journalist who is one of our ‘foot soldiers’ in the hustle and bustle of the world’s financial capital, London.

Armed with a rich profile in Content Management, Thapelo has lived and worked as editor and journalist between London, Johannesburg and Cape Town since 2002. His entrepreneurial drive saw him establish a digital content start-up in London, FullCircle Circle Online, which he sold in 2013.

Thapelo attained his Bachelor of Social Sciences (BSosci) at the University of Cape Town, where he studied International Relations and Industrial Sociology. He continued his studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada.

Thapelo’s vast digital content experience is supplemented by further studies at the University of Westminster Business School, where he recently attained a Certificate in Digital Marketing (Institute of Digital Marketing).

He enjoys playing and watching football (Arsenal fan who lives 10 minutes from the Emirates Stadium), reading up on the latest in Fintech and also keenly follows trends in international politics and socio-economics.
Thapelo Moloantoa
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Finbuzz met with former Credit Suisse investment banker and fintech startup Revolut Founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky. Revolut is a pre-paid card and app that lets you send and spend money abroad at the interbank rate with no commission. As a startup, Revolut managed to raise more than £10 million in mere 10 hours! We talked with Nik about investment, Brexit, fintech and kite surfing.

Tell us about your journey from Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse to establishing Revolut. Was it always your ambition to establish your own company?

I enjoyed trading derivatives with the banks but I always wanted to work for myself. So I finally took the decision to resign from work and begin with the journey of being an entrepreneur.

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The difference is that in my business life there are a lot of moving parts – there are a lot of things to juggle as a CEO whereas in trading I used a few instruments with a very narrow specialisation.

Amongst a few of the tasks I am juggling right now are acquiring the correct staff, also making sure that product design and interface are of a top standard, plus raising funds in the markets.

Trading is a job that’s done in an intensive environment, and it is the same with being an entrepreneur.

Were you always into fintech?

Yes, I am someone who enjoys working with systems – I like designing, developing and implementing systems. I really enjoy working with systems which are automated and scalable.

As you know, so systems can apply to technology too.

A fundraising series by Revolut was recently oversubscribed, both via the VCs and on the crowdfunding market, (i.e. £17m on CrowdCube and £7.7m via VCs) Why do you think the stock is so much in demand?

We didn’t really expect that with the crowdfunding. With CrowdCube we wanted to reward our loyal customers who continue to add value to our brand and were expecting a few more than one million but not 17 for sure. It really began to sink when we realised that we had raised £10m in just under 10 hours.

With the VC’s we had planned for it, we spent just over a month executing it.We select carefully who we will work with in this regard, normally only a few funds instead of many. Our main criteria really is working with VCs that we know, the ones that are good and fintech-focused.

One of them is a US investor called Ribbit. They have a great track record and are purely in fintech. They can help us expand into the US market because our mid-term expansion plans are to establish a presence in  the US and Australia.
 

Why do you think the series became so much in demand?

This is because we believe we have built a great product that people also believe in.

Revolut in action
Revolut in action

In July, Revolut was selected from over 550 start-ups to participate with 11 others in the MasterCard Start Path Programme. What do you think gave you the edge there?

Yes this is because we are a high-growth entity with a product that the market needs. This is a fascinating development for us because the programme seeks to support us in our quest to become a major global player in the commerce and fintech environment. Working with MasterCard is a value-add which we very much appreciate.

You were recently quoted as saying that you will be looking into generating new revenue streams via the cross-selling of products and services. Please elaborate on that.
 

Well, at the moment our clients are able to exchange and spend money on the Revolut card so the next services we are looking into offering are travel insurance, providing credit and a few others. Working with our commercial partners, we aim to continue to build value and provide our investors with a route into the market.

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How did the Brexit affect Revolut?

Yes, we were definitely affected by the FX rate because our valuation is executed in Pound Sterling. Other than that we have seen a higher trajectory in new clients uptake.
 

How do you spend your time off from work?

I work all the time! No, but, honestly, my hobby is kite-surfing. I enjoy that a lot. I also enjoy reading too, but nowadays when I do get to read is when I am trying to find a solution to solve a specific matter.

Thank you very much for your time and all of the best going forward.

I thank you too, looking forward to reading the article on Finbuzz!

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