London will fall behind as a world-leading fintech hub if the government does not prioritise incoming tech talent, the chief executive of Revolut warned today.
Nikolay Storonsky, a Russian native who started digital bank Revolut in 2015, called on ministers to introduce a fast-tracked visa process for technology workers, particularly within software development and data science.
London was revealed last month as the top destination in Europe for international tech talent, while the UK’s fintech sector took in a record $3.3bn (£2.5bn) in funding in 2018.
The city also plays host to the largest community of software developers on the continent, thanks to major engineering hubs established by the likes of Google and Facebook. Storonsky said 70 per cent of Revolut’s tech teams are recruited from abroad.
“With all of the political uncertainty kicking off right now, lengthy immigration processes and bureaucracy will only slow down the UK fintech industry’s growth, and we risk losing out on the best talent to other EU countries such as Germany and France,” said Storonsky.
The fintech firm said it will need to double its workforce in London this year if it is to reach certain goals, such as opening 50,000 accounts per day. Revolut currently has 1.9m monthly active users, and is opening more than 10,000 accounts per day.
The move comes as more than 80 per cent of UK startups are planning to expand their workforces this year despite Brexit challenges, according to fresh data from Silicon Valley Bank.
Additionally, 55 per cent of startups said they do not plan to move their headquarters outside the UK, regardless of whether a deal is achieved.
Former Google chief financial officer Patrick Pichette told City A.M. this week that the UK’s strong research record and university network are “huge advantages” for companies headquartered here.