Q&A with James Gibson – Director of Business at Revolut

We sat down with James Gibson, Director of Business and Partner at Revolut. In 2017, James joined Revolut and has worked on Revolut Business since its launch, seeing it grow from having no customers through to having hundreds of thousands. He is now in charge of Revolut Business product, which serves businesses of all sizes across Europe and North America. He is motivated by solving big problems for Revolut Business’s customers.

How did you end up getting into the finance sector?

Before joining Revolut, I advised businesses across Europe and Africa on banking and technology as a strategy consultant with Oliver Wyman, where I started to see customer expectations around business banking changing considerably. As personal banking improved, businesses started asking ‘Why can’t my business account be as good as my personal account?’

I wasn’t convinced that legacy institutions were best placed to drive this change – but I was really impressed by the speed and powerful products of fintechs, and how high Revolut raised the bar. Since joining Revolut Business five years ago, I’ve seen demand swell exponentially – we have grown in just five years to over half a million business customers across multiple global markets – distinct from Revolut’s 18 million consumer customer base.

What does the future of banking look like?

We’ve only seen the initial changes in banking – there is so much potential for powerful products to change how we interact with our money, both on the personal and business banking side.
Successful fintechs will provide a holistic, secure, stable and flexible platform which supports a huge amount of functionality – think of it as a financial operating system, upon which a business is built. It goes without saying that they will do the basics incredibly well, such as making and receiving global payments instantly and for free.

What is something important you have realised about being a good leader?

Scaling a team works best when you hire incredible people, agree on clear objectives together and then work really hard to achieve them. When you hire the right people and get the right basic processes in place, a lot of the rest takes care of itself. People who are smart, driven and committed to delivering value are who you want to build a business with.

In general, I’ve also learned that lots of people have good ideas and can pitch high-level ideas. Leadership, at least in companies like ours, is about having a deep understanding of these issues, prioritisation of the solutions and then actually being able to work with a team to execute.

Why is there a revolution happening in fintech?

Businesses need optimised, transparent, real-time solutions for receiving and sending money, and they are significantly under-served in this respect – legacy options have been really poor.
So, there is lots of demand for improved digital solutions, and there has historically not been much supply given the very high barriers of entry into the industry – this has all changed in the last ten years, since the 2008 crisis.

Furthermore, global demand for contactless, mobile and flexible solutions has grown dramatically over the course of the pandemic. Coupled with increasing digital adoption and technological dependency in lieu of physical interactions, demand has risen for affordable, transparent, and customisable business solutions.

What are new/exciting changes happening in the fintech space?

At the moment I’m most excited about spend management. Our business customers tell us that they want to empower their teams while remaining in control of their spend. But many founders and business owners are reluctant to give spending freedom to every member of their company, choosing instead to issue cards to a select few senior leaders, who then become bottlenecks for spend approvals.

James Gibson_Revolut

James Gibson

Our spend management product eliminates the bottlenecks by allowing employees of all levels in the US, UK and Europe to spend on company cards, with predefined spending limits reflecting the company’s expense policies. It makes spending really easy while allowing for overall control. It encompasses team management, cards, subscriptions and expenses. We are about to launch Analytics too, so these business owners and heads of finance can keep track of spending in real-time, dig into trends and take action where necessary.

How will Revolut be impacted by inflation and the current geopolitical situation?

Businesses are increasingly harnessing the power of fintech to help protect their bottom line – and free them up to focus on running their businesses. In today’s environment, businesses are increasingly exposed to fluctuations in FX rates. Companies need easily accessible solutions to quickly diversify and de-risk their surplus cash. They also are looking for ways to invest their money in a more diverse set of assets.

Will gamification become an integral part of the financial world?

Businesses don’t necessarily care about gamification in the tools they rely on every day – but what they do need is frictionless, reliable, and usable technology. We prioritise usability that serves their needs and makes their lives easier, over gamification.

The future of financial services is about building trust through increased transparency and accountability, and as one of the major fintech players in this space, we’re taking a responsible approach.