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$5.5 Billion Fintech Firm Revolut's Losses Mounted in 2020 But Crypto Gave It a Big Boost

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  • British fintech firm Revolut said 2020 adjusted revenues, a metric that accounts for revaluation of intangible assets like crypto, grew 57% to £261 million.
  • Adjusted operating losses, which include crypto revaluation income but exclude share-based payments, rose to £122 million, Revolut said.
  • Revolut CEO Nik Storonsky said the company shifted its focus during Covid-19 to more profitable endeavors like crypto and stock trading.

LONDON — British fintech start-up Revolut saw slower growth in revenues and mounting losses last year as the coronavirus pandemic hit payment volumes, though an increase in the value of cryptocurrencies gave the company a big boost.

Revolut generated revenues of £222.1 million ($310.5 million) in 2020, up 34% from the £166 million revenue it made a year earlier. However, the company said adjusted revenues, a metric it uses to account for revaluation of intangible assets like crypto, came in at £261 million, up 57% year-on-year.

Revenue growth was much slower last year compared to 2019, when the company reported an almost threefold increase in sales. Revolut was last privately valued at $5.5 billion and is reportedly seeking a valuation of more than $10 billion in its next fundraising round, according to a Sky News report.

A rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, which Revolut supports through its trading features, led to a £38.7 million windfall for the firm. However, this wasn't shown on Revolut's income statement due to a change in reporting, Mikko Salovaara, Revolut's chief financial officer, said.

Bitcoin, the world's biggest digital coin, almost quadrupled in value over the course of last year, and rallied to an all-time high close to $65,000 in April 2021, but it's fallen significantly since and was last trading at about $33,000.

Revolut reported a total annual loss of £167.8 million, or $231.8 million, higher than the £106.7 million it lost in 2019. But it reported adjusted operating losses, which include crypto revaluation income but exclude share-based payments, of £122 million, an increase from the £98.4 million loss in its previous fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Revolut said gross profit, a measure that excludes onboarding costs, more than tripled year-on-year to £123 million. The company's gross profit margin rose to 49% in 2020 from 25% a year earlier. By the fourth quarter of 2020, Revolut says its gross margin exceeded 60%, resulting in an adjusted operating profit in November and December.

"It's a translation into numbers of the very good performance that we've seen in the year 2020 and basically is ultimately a validation of the business model and the strategy we have set out," Salovaara said.

Revolut, which offers app-based checking accounts and trading services, still makes most of its revenue from interchange fees that are taken from a merchant's bank account each time a customer uses their card. The firm sought to reduce its reliance on interchange, however, as the coronavirus pandemic led to a sharp drop in payment volume.

Covid-19 forced Revolut to cut down on costs and "repurpose" staff for more profitable endeavors like crypto, stock trading and business accounts, CEO Nik Storonsky told CNBC.

Now, "every single P&L [profit and loss] line is actually above Covid, some two, three, four or five times above Covid," said Storonsky, adding the pandemic was "initially a painful experience" but overall "very positive for us because it allowed us to focus on the right product lines."

About 36% of Revolut's 2020 revenues came from card and interchange income, according to its annual report, while foreign exchange income accounted for 31% and paid subscriptions made up 29%.

The retail investing frenzy that kicked off 2021, pumping up the prices of stocks like GameStop and AMC, was likely a boon to Revolut as well. The company said revenue surged 130% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, while gross profit more than quadrupled. Revolut now has 15.5 million customers in total.

Revolut has been pushing aggressively into overseas markets like the U.S. and Asia. The firm applied for a U.S. banking license earlier this year. The company is also investing heavily closer to home. It already has an EU banking license but submitted its application for a British banking license in January in a bid to expand lending activity.

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